EAA Announces 2014 Annual Gala Honorees
April 15, 2014
Melanie Ziems

The 2014 Cullen College of Engineering Alumni Awards Gala will be held at the Petroleum Club of Houston on Thursday, June 12, 2014. The annual event, hosted by the Engineering Alumni Association, recognizes the professional achievements and contributions of college alumni and faculty. This year's honorees are:

Lifetime Achievement Award – Raymond G. Bailey
Gerald Bailey, Ph.D., P.E. (BSChE ’63) is a product of the UH Cullen College of Engineering's chemical engineering department and studied under notable professors such as Dukler and Tiller, who set the standards for the department. He was active in the AIChE student chapter and won first place in the 1963 regional paper contest among Texas universities with a paper on Fuel Cells. He joined Texaco after graduation and over a period of 15 years worked in Port Arthur, Texas, and New York, NY in the petrochemicals department, rising to a plant supervisor position. He then took a position with Exxon in Libya, where he had operations supervisory posts in production and LNG. Subsequently, he served as operations superintendent in the Exxon refinery in Aruba. He then traveled back to the Middle East on loan to Qatar Petroleum as field operations manager, and then to the post of assistant general manager of the Abu Dhabi Onshore Oil Company where Exxon was a partner. In 1992, he was appointed President, Exxon, Arabian Gulf, with responsibility for all operations in the region. He retired early in 1997 to return to the United States after many years abroad.

Since then, Gerald remains active in consultations as Bailey Petroleum, where he is involved in business development consulting and operations management of several oil and gas production ventures, both domestic and international. Gerald has over 50 years of experience in the petroleum industry with extensive engineering, management, and executive assignments. He was recognized by AIChE for this service. He currently serves on a number of industry boards and holds Chairman and CEO positions, among which are BCM Energy, MCW Energy, Trinity Energy, and Origin Oil. Along with being a UH Alumni Life Member, he is a member of the Middle East Policy Council, Society of Petroleum Engineers, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and is a registered Professional Engineer in Texas.

Gerald is a native Houstonian and an Aldine High School graduate. He has written books on his hobby, golf, and on political science. A recent novel portrays his experiences in Libya. He is a frequent public speaker and several textbooks highlight his engineering work. He credits his success and support to his wife, Sue, who has relentlessly accompanied him in all these adventures for the past 51 years, from time in the trenches to state dinners with royalty, along with two now married daughters, Debra and Barbra, who likewise have shared this challenging and exciting engineering lifestyle.

Distinguished Engineering Alumni – Randy J. Wester
Randy Wester (BSME ’89) joined FMC Technologies in 1980 after receiving an associate degree in mechanical design and drafting from North Dakota State School of Science. He took night classes for eight years while working full time as a draftsman and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Houston in 1989. After a three year assignment in Brazil, where he participated in the oil industry's first installation of a deep water guidelineless well completion system, Randy worked as a project and system engineer for seven subsea projects in Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico and offshore West Africa. He moved into management in 1998 and has held multiple engineering and product line management roles at the regional and global levels. Randy has been at the forefront of developing the engineering talent and technology needed to meet the ever increasing technical challenges of the subsea industry in deep water basins around the world. He received a Special Meritorious Award for Engineering Innovation from Petroleum Engineer International in 1994 and holds six patents.

Randy initiated the nation's first subsea engineering program at the University of Houston, which won the World Oil Award for the industry's best outreach program in 2011. He currently serves as the chair of the Industrial Advisory Board for the subsea program and previously served on the Industrial Advisory Board for the mechanical engineering department at UH.

Randy is an active member of New Life Christian Reformed Church in Spring, Texas, where he presently serves as an elder and president of the church council. He is also a member of a mission-focused group that is partnering with Old Town Spring Heights to foster community renewal in that neighborhood.
Randy is married to his wife Tari of 34 years and has two adult daughters and one granddaughter.

Distinguished Engineering Alumni – David L. Collins, Sr.
David L. Collins, P.E., RPLS, F.ASCE (BSCE ’71) is a semi-retired consultant to FCM Engineers, PC, a consulting civil engineering, planning and construction management firm in Houston. He was selected as a Fellow in the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2013. He was also a Principal of PTI, Inc. from 1982 to 2010. During the course of his 40 year career, David designed and managed civil engineering projects domestically and around the world, such as at the University of Riyadh, Internal Security Forces College, Jeddah Maritime Academy in Saudi Arabia, and the University of Maiduguri in Nigeria. He served as an Owner's Representative for the construction of the Toyota Center, Greater Houston Wastewater Program, City of Houston, Lake Houston Dam Restoration and numerous other civil engineering projects.

David has served as a board member of the Texas Department of Health for nine years, the City of Houston Planning Commission for 13 years, the Fort Bend Independent School District for 10 years and the Houston Area Urban League for eight years. During this time, he has also been a member of ASCE and served as an officer and committee member of Houston Branch, Texas Section and National ASCE.

David has received numerous awards during his career, such as the 1991 Texas Section-ASCE John A. Focht, Jr. Citizen Engineer Award, the 1991 Citizen Engineer Award for Outstanding Volunteer Activities in Zone III, the 1995 Texas Section ASCE Professional Service Award, the 1997 Award of Honor from the Houston Branch of ASCE, the National Ad in the American Society of Civil Engineers Magazine for Contribution to Education as Board Member of Fort Bend ISD, and the City of Houston 1996 Outstanding MWBE in Professional Service Award.

David is married to Mary A. Sampay-Collins and the proud parents of David, Jr. and Stacy Collins. 

Distinguished Young Engineering Alumnus – Okechukwu A. Ofili
Okechukwu Ofili (BSME ’04) is a project/design engineer at FMC Technologies, the global leader in subsea technology solutions for the exploration, production and processing of petroleum.

In January 2000, he entered the University of Houston as an international student studying mechanical engineering. Despite struggling with school fees and cultural barriers, Okechukwu was able to graduate Summa Cum Laude in 2004 and was also amongst the top five most outstanding engineering students in his class. He was also recognized as the homecoming king and received the Dean's Service Award in that same year; both awards are given for outstanding leadership and service to the community.

Okechukwu has devoted much of his time and resources giving back to the University, speaking at various student organizations' activities and serving as a mentor to several students. He has also worked actively to raise scholarship funds for various organizations including the University of Houston Nigerian Students Association and the UH Engineering Alumni Association (EAA) amongst others.

He was also responsible for establishing the FMC and EAA partnership for the annual Eweek Engineering Community Outreach Program, a program that recognizes engineering organizations for utilizing their skill sets to positively impact the local community. Since its establishment in 2007, more than $16,700 has been disbursed and over 35 community programs completed.

Okechukwu currently shuttles between Texas and Lagos, Nigeria. Beyond his engineering life, he is a published author of three books and runs the popular blog. He is also the founder/owner of, a fast growing and easy-to-use award winning app (MTN 2013 app of the year) for reading African books.

Okechukwu’s rule of life is that engineering should be used as a tool to make a difference in the community. This is what drives him every day.

Abraham E. Dukler Distinguished Engineering Faculty – Matthew Franchek
Matthew Franchek is the founding director of the University of Houston's subsea engineering program. He received his PhD. in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University in 1991 and started his career at Purdue University as an assistant professor in mechanical engineering.  He was promoted to an associate professor with tenure in 1997 and then to full professor in 2001.  While at Purdue, he initiated and led two industry-supported interdisciplinary research programs: an automotive research program and an electro-hydraulic research program.  From 2002 to 2009, he served as chair of mechanical engineering at the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering while simultaneously initiating the Cullen College's biomedical engineering undergraduate program.  After his term as department chair, Matthew worked with Houston-area companies to create the nation's first subsea engineering degree program. His expertise is in model-based methods for diagnostics and control of aerospace, automotive, biomedical and energy systems.  His current research program focuses on multiphase pipeline flow, artificial lift, blowout preventers and electrical power distribution. He has authored over 70 archival publications and over 100 conference publications. He has served as the advisor to 18 doctoral students and 31 master's students. Currently, Matthew is creating a STEM program at Memorial Elementary School, an HISD school serving a largely Hispanic population.

Entrepreneur/Innovation Award – Ardeshir Tajvari
Eddie Tajvari (BSEE ’75, MSEE ’76, PhDEE ’79) is co-founder, president and chairman of the Board of Americo Energy Resources, LLC. Americo is a privately-held, independent oil and gas company based in Houston with operations in several counties throughout Texas and New Mexico.

Prior to his graduation from the University of Houston’s Cullen College of Engineering, he worked as a consultant to AMF Tuboscope working on a leak detection system for the ExxonMobil Alaska pipeline. After his graduation from UH, Eddie worked at TRW Control as a software engineer and was involved in the design and implementation of control systems for electric utilities. During his 19 years of employment, the company experienced a number of major changes, takeovers and downsizing, but he remained one of the key employees and ended up as a manager of international projects for ABB Corporation.

As an entrepreneur, Eddie was involved in a number of business transactions that include real estate, retail, and restaurant businesses. However, his lifelong dream of being his own boss came true in 1997 when he and his two partners formed an oil and gas company known as Americo Energy Resources. They started the company with one small gas producing field in Kansas. Eddie’s many years of management skills, technical background and business experience led his team to grow the company to where it is today, operating at over 700 wells.

His wife, Sherry, and his two daughters, Ashley and Neekie, are now taking over the management of the real estate business while Eddie has his goal set on expanding Americo to a larger independent oil and gas company.

During his free time, Eddie maintains involvement in several community service organizations, such as Texas Children’s Hospital, and he participates in and contributes to several major projects for the Museum of Fine Arts. He also enjoys spending time with his three grandchildren.

Roger Eichhorn Service Award – Kenneth E. Tand
Kenneth E. Tand, P.E. (BSCE ’72, MCE ’76) is a practicing civil engineer specializing in geotechnical engineering. He received both degrees from UH by attending evening classes while working full time. Kenneth contributes his success in his professional career to the University of Houston’s support of economically challenged students. UH helped Kenneth grow a love for engineering, and at the age of 69 he still has a fire for engineering in his heart.

Kenneth is presently the principal engineer at Kenneth E. Tand & Associates, which was incorporated in 1981.  He was the geotechnical engineer of record for more than 4,000 projects in his 30+ years of practice including: Petrochemical Units,  Retail Developments, Industrial Plants, Road/Utilities, Multi Story Office Buildings, Retaining Walls/Docks, Office/Warehouse Buildings, Hospitals/Schools, Geotechnical Forensic Studies, and Governmental Buildings.

Kenneth lectured at 25 classes at UH on Case Histories in Civil Engineering, and he was a speaker at the annual CIGMAT Conference at the UH on five occasions.  He is the author/co-author of 10 technical papers published in professional proceedings, and he has been a speaker at numerous technical meetings.  He was honored as a Distinguished Civil Engineering Alumnus at UH in 2013.

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