Cullen College Names 2012-2013 Outstanding Students
February 6, 2013
Esmeralda Fisher

The University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering has chosen two mechanical engineering students as Outstanding Senior and Junior for the 2012-2013 academic year. Senior John Alred and junior Ryan Hannemann were selected for superlative academic performance, representing a group of high-achieving students from each of the college’s undergraduate programs. They will be honored, along with other top engineering students, at the EAA Engineers Week 2013 Reception and Program on February 19.

Outstanding Senior: John Alred

Before college, John Alred became interested in mechanical engineering while working at a job involving automotive mechanical systems. Although he began his academic career as a biomedical engineering major, he switched to mechanical engineering shortly thereafter. Alred is an active member of the Program for Mastery in Engineering Studies (PROMES) action committee, which organizes volunteering events, as well as the Honors Engineering Program, in which he serves as the tutoring officer.

Since his sophomore year, Alred has conducted research with Pradeep Sharma, M.D. Anderson Chair Professor and mechanical engineering department chair. Alred works on theoretical research in nano-scale materials science, particularly quantum mechanical simulations and molecular dynamic simulations.

"If you can see what’s going on at the atomic level, you can build up from that and see why different phenomena happen," Alred noted.

Alred will graduate in Spring 2013, and looks forward to continuing his research in materials science in graduate school. In the future, he hopes to conduct high-level research on an industrial level. He is actively seeking opportunities with companies that are expanding research and development.

As a senior, Alred has learned that the most important factor for success in engineering at the University of Houston is not to wait on anything. His advice to new engineering students is to become involved early. He says it’s essential to find opportunities in research if you are planning to attend graduate school. Additionally, attending engineering career fairs to find internships often leads to full-time opportunities after graduation. Alred has attended every career fair since starting at Cullen College and emphasizes that opportunities do exist for underclassmen. "Four years seems like a lot of time, but it’s not," he said. "I’ve accomplished a lot because I didn’t wait, like getting involved in research my third semester of college. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have the experience or relevant coursework. Don’t wait on anything."

Outstanding Junior: Ryan Hannemann

Ryan Hannemann has always been interested in the mechanics of things, and even specialized in engineering while a member of the U.S. Army. Returning home to Houston, Hannemann chose to continue his education in mechanical engineering at the University of Houston, noting that the well-rounded curriculum enables students to learn aspects of many other fields of engineering.

Hannemann emphasizes that engineering students at the University of Houston have a definite advantage in the job market. "We're so lucky to be in Houston," he said. "We're just integrated into the oil and gas network because of location." Aside from the benefit of education in the Energy Capital of the World, Hannemann says that the key to landing your dream job is to focus on grades and networking. "Try and keep your GPA as good as you can, and start networking early," he said. “Go to the career fairs. Those career fairs are so effective and the fact is the majority of people I talk to aren’t using them. Create that networking base beforehand; it makes it easier when you talk to company reps at the career fairs. Also try and volunteer for the career fairs. I usually volunteer whenever I can. It’s not a waste of your time, it’s an investment."

In the near future, Hannemann's goal is to supplement his engineering background with the business side by earning an MBA.

Major, Outstanding Senior, Outstanding Junior

  • Biomedical: James Romero, Tony Roshan
  • Chemical: Ann-Marie Leba, Alexander Brayton
  • Civil: Yohanna Ruocco, Hayley Redweik
  • Computer: No selection, Vinh Phung
  • Electrical: Drew McLean, Richard Dettloff
  • Industrial: Orlando Jose Salemi, Maria S. Nacinovich
  • Mechanical: John Alred, Ryan Hannemann
  • Petroleum: Mikhail Alekseenko, Christopher Mayo 

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