The 2015 Cullen College of Engineering Alumni Awards Gala will be held at the Petroleum Club of Houston on Thursday, June 11, 2015. 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:
Distinguished Engineering Alumni – Kenneth “Kenny” Mercado
As senior vice president of CenterPoint Energy’s electric utility business, Kenny Mercado (BSEE ’85, MSIE ’91) has financial and operational responsibility of the company’s 5,000 square-mile service territory, as well as power delivery to more than 2.2 million homes and businesses in the Houston metropolitan area. Prior to his current position, he was division senior vice president of Grid and Market Operations, responsible for automating and integrating the company’s nearly 53,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution grid to serve the Texas competitive market. He was also responsible for the deployment of a smart grid system, which includes the installation of smart meters and intelligent grid technology.
In his 30-year career at CenterPoint Energy and predecessor companies, Kenny has held numerous leadership positions in engineering and operations in the company’s electric utility business.
Kenny received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and his master's degree in industrial engineering from the University of Houston. He also received an Executive MBA degree from Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.
A licensed professional engineer registered in the state of Texas, Kenny serves on the boards of the March of Dimes in Houston, the University of Houston Honors College and Engineering Leadership Program, Southeastern Electric Exchange and the Texas Center for Commercialization of Electric Technologies.
Distinguished Engineering Alumni – Frederic Wasden
Frederic Wasden (Ph.D. ChE ’89) currently serves as general manager for Shell’s Carmon Creek heavy oil development in Alberta, Canada. After joining Shell in 1989, Fred’s career included research and development assignments supporting nearly all of Shell’s early deepwater host and subsea fields, followed by management assignments in oil shale and materials technology, corporate HSE and deepwater operations. Fred then moved into general management roles supporting Shell’s global deepwater field developments prior to assuming his current role.
Fred’s early career followed on from his UH doctoral research with professor Abraham Dukler, and led to a wide range of technical publications in the field of multiphase fluid mechanics and flow assurance. He co-founded the Institute for MultiFluid Science and Technology in 1994 along with several industrial and academic colleagues to provide a focused collaboration setting for the growing discipline.
After graduation, Fred stayed active in the UH community, teaching graduate and undergraduate chemical engineering courses. He was recognized in 1993 by the student AIChE chapter for his excellence in instruction. Fred continues his service to the UH community as a member of the Chemical Engineering Industrial Advisory Board. He served as technical editor for the ASME Journal of Fluids Engineering, chaired many technical conferences and served on the International Steering Committee for the 2001 International Conference on Multiphase Flows. Leveraging his deepwater field development experience, he represented Shell in deepwater national outreach conferences in Norway and Mexico. His recent publications focus on balancing heavy oil development with sustainability/profitability challenges.
Fred and his wife, Kay, currently reside in Calgary, Alberta with their two children. Fred coaches little league baseball, judges speech and debate tournaments and remains a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Houston.
Distinguished Young Engineering Alumnus – Kenneth Flakes
Kenneth Flakes, PE (BSME ’02) is an engineering manager at OneSubsea, a joint venture between Cameron and Schlumberger. OneSubsea is the global leader in integrated solutions, products, systems and services for the subsea oil and gas industry.
Kenneth enrolled at the University of Houston in the fall of 1997 after graduating from Ross Sterling High School as valedictorian. While studying mechanical engineering at UH, he was active in NSBE, ASME, Pi Tau Sigma, and Tau Beta Pi. While in NSBE he served as the co-membership chair and on the planning committee for the Regional Conference that NSBE hosted in 2003.
Upon graduation from UH as cum laude, he began working for Cameron. After completing an 18-month training program, he worked in surface wellhead for two years before going to subsea systems. He worked for nearly four years as a flowline connection systems engineer before relocating to Malaysia to work a two-and-a-half year assignment as a systems engineer. Once he completed his project in Malaysia he returned to Houston as an engineering manager in the flowline connection systems organization.
On a professional level, Kenneth is a member of the ASME South Texas Section where he has served as the chairperson for diversity and outreach. He was recognized by ASME as one of the finalists for New Faces of Engineering. He has served as the program chair for the NSBE Houston Alumni Extension and was recognized as their 2007 Young Engineer of the Year. Kenneth has also served on the UH EWeek committee.
In his spare time, Kenneth enjoys teaching and mentoring. While in Malaysia, he spent 15 months teaching math to Burmese refugees. He was a graduating member of United Way’s Project Blueprint Class XXVI. Kenneth enjoys traveling, has visited 18 countries, and is an avid sports fan.
Abraham E. Dukler Distinguished Engineering Faculty – Gangbing Song
Gangbing Song is the founding director of the Smart Materials and Structures Laboratory, the John and Rebecca Moores Professor of mechanical engineering, and professor of civil and environmental engineering and electrical and computer engineering at the UH Cullen College of Engineering. Gangbing was the recipient of an NSF CAREER award in 2001.
Gangbing earned his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees from the department of mechanical engineering at Columbia University in 1995 and 1991, respectively. He received his B.S. degree in 1989 from Zhejiang University in China. He has expertise in smart materials and structures, structural vibration control, piezoceramics, ultrasonic transducers, structural health monitoring and damage detection. He has developed two new courses in smart materials and published more than 300 papers, including 118 peer reviewed journal articles.
Gangbing is also an inventor or co-inventor of four U.S. patents and eight pending patents. He has received research funding in smart materials and related research from the NSF, DoE, NASA, U.S. Department of Education, Texas Higher Education Board, Texas Space Grant Consortium, University of Texas Medical Branch, Ohio Space Grant Consortium, Ohio Aerospace Institute, Ohio Department of Transportation, Hewlett Packard, OptiSolar, GE and Cameron.
In addition to his research efforts, Gangbing has a passion for improving teaching through the use of technology. He is a leader in internet-enabled remote experiment/laboratory and a pioneer in systematically implementing remote experiments in engineering education. He received the prestigious Outstanding Technical Contribution Award from the aerospace division of ASCE, the Excellence in Research & Scholarship Award at the full professor level from UH, the Celebrating Excellence Award for Excellence in Education from the International Society of Automation, the IEEE Educational Activities Board Meritorious Achievement Award in Informal Education, among many others. Gangbing is a member of ASCE, ASME, and IEEE. He served as the general chair of the Earth and Space Conference 2010, Aerospace Division, ASCE.
Roger Eichhorn Service Award – Anthony “Tony” Catalano
Anthony B. “Tony” Catalano, P.E. (MSChE ’79) received his maseter's degree in chemical engineering from the UH Cullen College of Engineering, working under the direction of professor Raymond Flumerfelt. He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Cooper Union in 1977.
Tony began his career at Chevron, holding a variety of positions during his 17-year tenure with the company, including production research, gas processing plant operations and management. He spent one year with NGC Corporation as a natural gas trader before co-founding Sago Energy, a mid-stream energy company with natural gas pipelines in West Texas and Louisiana, as well as a West Texas natural gas processing plant. Upon the successful sale of Sago, he co-founded Tristream Energy, another mid-stream energy company with natural gas pipelines and a natural gas processing plant in East Texas. He retired from Tristream as COO in 2014, and his next objective is to commercialize technology from his U.S. patent.
Tony has supported the Cullen College of Engineering in several ways: he served as a board member of the Engineering Alumni Association for six years, served on the UH Alumni Council for two years, and served on the Cullen College’s Engineering Leadership Board (ELB) for 10 years, spending one year as the ELB chair. Tony was also a member of the EWeek Committee for eight years, serving as host of a game show featuring Cullen College students. Tony delivered the spring 2007 commencement address for the college. He was a volunteer instructor in the college’s Engineering Leadership and Entrepreneurship Program (ELEP) for five years and mentored two groups of ELEP students attempting business startups after graduation.