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College Mourns Passing of Michael Pao, Distinguished Research Professor and NAE Member

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By: 

Toby Weber

Yin-Ho Michael Pao, Distinguished Research Professor of mechanical engineering with the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering and a member of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering, died last month from heart complications.

Pao who received a Ph.D. in fluid mechanics from Johns Hopkins University in 1962 had a long association with the college’s mechanical engineering department and an incredibly successful career as an entrepreneur and businessman.

He founded and led six technology companies in his career, and took three public on the NASDAQ stock exchange. One of these, Flow international Corp., was named by the third-best performing initial public offering in the nation in 1983 by the financial publication Barron’s. That firm developed and commercialized the use of ultrahigh-pressure water-jet and abrasive-jet technology for industrial cutting, drilling, and milling, and is credited with creating the water-jet machining industry.

His other publicly traded companies were FlowMole Corp., which developed and commercialized horizontal directional jet-drilling technology for the trenchless installation of underground cables and pipes; and FloWind Corp, which developed in collaboration with Sandia National Laboratory and then commercialized vertical-axis wind turbine technology for electricity generation.

His most recent venture was Floating Windfarms Corp., which he founded in 2005. True to its name, that firm specializes in the development of offshore wind farms that utilize vertical axis turbines.

Pao’s efforts earned him membership in the National Academy of Engineering. The official citation for his induction recognized his “research, development, and commercialization of water-jet technology for machining, trenchless boring, and surface preparation.”

Joseph W. Tedesco, Elizabeth D. Rockwell Dean and Professor, recalled Pao as one of the Cullen College’s biggest supporters.

“Dr. Pao was an extremely accomplished individual who was also one of the best friends the Cullen College could ask for. Through his insights on science, technology, and trends in the world of business and industry, he was an incredible person to have on our side. He will be deeply missed by everyone here,” he said.

A memorial service for Dr. Pao will be held on Nov. 2 in Houston. For more information on the service, please click here.

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