Terrance “Terri” Ivers, P.E. (BSME ’80), is coming home to the UH Cullen College of Engineering as the featured speaker at its commencement on Dec. 13 at the NRG Arena. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from UH in 1980 and has remained involved in the Cullen College community throughout the course of his 37 year-long career.
Ivers – who currently serves as executive president of Bilfinger North America Inc., leading a division comprised of four companies with more than 4,000 employees and $700 million in revenue – considers himself the epitome of a UH student.
A lifelong resident of Houston, he grew up about three miles from the University and attended Stephen F. Austin High School, which is right across the freeway. He was a first-generation student and worked his way through college, taking a lot of night classes.
“I think that’s true of a lot of University of Houston students,” Ivers said. “There are a lot of first-generation potential college students, a lot of working students, in the city of Houston, and UH is the place for them.”
While he’d been considering another school – Texas A&M University – in the end he chose UH, and appreciates the quality of education he received.
“I had people who were my lab mates at night who had been working in industry for 20 years,” Ivers said, adding that his classmates not only shared invaluable industry insights during class discussions, but also taught him a lot of important lessons – going after a goal, perseverance and work ethic. “If I didn’t have them with me, I wouldn’t have appreciated the experience. I benefited from them being there with me.”
He is also proud of the growth the University has seen under the leadership of UH President and Chancellor Renu Khator. “It’s important as we’re pursuing all that comes with Tier One designation, we don’t lose sight of our original mission,” he said. “We celebrate all the things that make us UH.”
Building on success
Ivers’ long and successful engineering career includes extensive international project and business management experience in the global energy sector.
He launched his career at Brown & Root, where he developed a comprehensive and extensive knowledge of the oil and gas industry during his 27 years with the company. He retired in 2004 as KBR Officer and Vice President of Global Offshore Engineering.
From 2004 to 2007, he served as the Chief Operating Officer of Alliance Wood Group Engineering; from 2007 to 2011, he served as President of AMEC Paragon, Inc. and was responsible for Natural Resources Americas’ oil and gas operations; and, from 2011 to 2013, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Oil and Gas, Compression and Solutions Business Unit for Siemens. In this role, Ivers was responsible for global compression manufacturing and oil and gas business solutions from hubs in Germany, Norway, Singapore, Brazil, China, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
Most recently, Ivers was a member of the executive leadership team of SNC-Lavalin’s Resources, Environment & Water group. As the Executive Vice President of the group, he was responsible for leading oil and gas regional centers around the world and providing perspective on the company’s strategic vision, development and execution. His drive and business acumen strengthened business growth, particularly in the Middle East and new markets, and his unwavering commitment to safety, teamwork, technical and commercial excellence, ethical practices and integrity were critical to his success. Ivers departed SNC-Lavalin in August of 2015 after the successful integration of Kentz Oil & Gas, which the company acquired in 2014.
During the course of his career, Ivers maintained a deep commitment to his community, to UH and to engineering education. He is once again the chairman of the Cullen College’s Engineering Leadership Board (ELB), having served also in 2013-2014. Previously, he served on the Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) for the mechanical engineering department. His unwavering commitment to the Cullen College earned him the Distinguished Alumni Award from the UH Engineering Alumni Association in 2016.
“As engineers it’s part of our credo, our responsibility, to give back however we can,” Ivers said. “As engineers we really should be involved in fixing problems, addressing issues and raising awareness of engineering as a profession.”
Coming full circle
Ivers and his wife Mary, both lifetime Houstonians, celebrate 37 years of marriage. Mary, who received her degree in political science, is also a University of Houston alum and both are proud UH Alumni Life Members. They have four grown (two of whom are UH alumni) children andand three grandchildren, with a fourth on the way in February.
Ivers sees the opportunity to serve as commencement speaker as a chance to come full circle, making up for something he missed out on during his own college days: Ivers didn’t go to his own graduation.
He had vowed to graduate at 22. As a result, in his last year – spring, summer and fall – Ivers ended up taking more than 40 course credit hours while working at Brown & Root, where a full-time position awaited him after graduation.
On top of it all, his grandparents – who had raised him – were not in the best of health and it would have been difficult for them to attend his graduation.
“If my grandparents couldn’t be there, then what would be the point of it all? So I didn’t go,” Ivers said. “When I walked out of that last class, I was exhausted and I didn’t look back.”
Ivers is looking forward to the commencement and plans to make the most of this second chance.
“I’m going to have as much of my family there as possible because I want to share this with them,” he said. “I know I’m going to look out there and I’m going to see so many different faces, from different places and they have all got this thing in common which is UH.”
The fall 2018 UH Cullen College of Engineering commencement will be held at NRG Arena on December 13 at 6 p.m. For more information, please click here.