The Cullen College’s electrical and computer engineering department recently welcomed five new members to its Industry Advisory Board (IAB).
The IAB connects leaders in industry, government and academia with students and faculty from the Cullen College. Through collaboration and idea sharing, the IAB strives to enhance the overall academic and research experience for ECE students, as well as to support the department in educating the next generation of global, world-class engineers.
The IAB’s newest members include team and division leaders, a project manager, industry vice presidents and three University of Houston alumni. Cary Gallaway, Michael Hanson, Mark Laber, Trey Mebane and Dave Thompson bring an array of diverse industry experience and expertise to the table. Learn more about each new member below!
Cullen College alumnus Gallaway joined the ECE Industry Advisory Board last fall to contribute to developing the next generation of electrical engineers.
Gallaway serves as a project manager and senior electrical engineer in Burns & McDonnell’s Transmission and Distribution Division. He said he looks forward to sharing his industry expertise to help further the ECE department’s mission and continue to bring the school recognition.
“I’m excited by the opportunity to advise and provide feedback to professors regarding the program, the curriculum and how to keep recruiting the best student candidates,” he said.
In addition to sharing insights with the department’s faculty and administrators, he looks forward to connecting with students. He said he hopes to encourage more students to explore the engineering industry by providing real world perspective and advice.
“[Students should] never stop asking questions,” he said. “It’s just as important to know what you don’t know as it is to know what you do.”
Hanson, also a Cullen College alumnus, began attending IAB meetings in 2014 and became an official member of the board in the fall of 2015.
As a University of Houston student, Hanson was a member of the original ECE Student Advisory Board, an experience he found to be enriching and informative. He said the IAB provides him the chance to help current students in a similar way. As an IAB member, he hopes to mentor current students and share his perspective on the benefits of a Cullen College education.
“It can be a tough few years and it’s not always evident that it is worth the effort. It definitely is in the long run, and connecting what they’re learning on a day-to-day basis with what they’ll use in their future careers helps keep the engines burning as they power through,” he said.
Hanson leads a diverse team of electrical, mechanical, thermal and control engineers as an engineering manager at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. His team is responsible for solving complex and multidisciplinary problems associated with large-scale Modular Datacenters (MDC) and the integration of IT products within them.
“It’s been great to reconnect with the staff of the Cullen College as a member of the industrial community. I feel like my education has served me extremely well in the past 16 years and I want that to be evident to the staff and students. The IAB is the best way for me to engage on that level,” he said.
Laber, the third new alumnus of the Cullen College, joined the ECE IAB to help current UH students develop their future career paths.
“By allowing industry an opportunity to communicate concerns and to understand the direction of the University, [the ECE IAB] will ultimately result in graduates that represent a greater value proposition to the hiring companies,” he said.
Laber is the Vice President and General Manager for the Motors & Drives Division of Toshiba International Corporation; he also serves as Toshiba’s Global Medium Voltage Business Manager and is on the board of directors for Toshiba’s Canadian Manufacturing facility in Hamilton, Ontario.
Inspired by a belief in giving back to the community and seeking the opportunity to join a network focused on value creation, Mebane joined the ECE IAB in September, 2015.
Throughout his extensive career, Mebane has concentrated on “wealth creation through innovation.” As the Vice President of Innovation for National Oilwell Varco’s (NOV) oil field services unit in Cedar Park, Texas, he is currently focused on strategically establishing a culture of innovation through an executive development program called NOV Ventures.
“The talent being developed through the UH ECE program has both a practical and hands-on ability to ensure equipment not only works smarter, but that it also works longer and is more reliable,” he said.
Thompson, who serves as the Director of Emerging Technologies and Neuromodulation at health innovation company LivaNova, said he was motivated by the desire to help guide and improve the Cullen College’s ECE department and program when he joined the IAB in late 2015.
“Valuable industry input [from the IAB] will help the ECE department to be stronger, as well as improve the value of the education the students receive,” he said.
The IAB strives to provide constructive feedback to the ECE department to help align the academic program with industry-desired outcomes.