The 2019 UH Cullen College of Engineering Alumni Awards Gala will be held at the Bayou City Event Center on Thursday, June 6. The annual event, hosted by the Engineering Alumni Association (EAA), celebrates the professional accomplishments and contributions of Cullen College alumni and faculty.
Learn more about this year’s honorees below:
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
William A. Brookshire, Ph.D., P.E. (BSChE ’57)†
Co-founder & Chairman, S&B Engineers and Constructors Ltd.
William Alfred “Bill” Brookshire was a generous and self-made man. Raised without means in Lufkin, he worked a full-time day job in the Houston-area and attended night classes at the UH Cullen College of Engineering to earn his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. He graduated in 1957. His first job after college was at the Humble Oil plant in Baytown.
He went onto earn a master’s degree and his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Louisiana State University with the help of a fellowship from Humble Oil.
Brookshire and James Slaughter, Jr. founded S&B Engineers and Constructors Ltd. in 1967. The company, which started in a funeral home decorated by the business partners’ wives, now employs more than 4,500 people around the world and services clients in the refining, petrochemical and chemical, midstream, infrastructure, power generation, and pulp and paper industries. S&B ranked 53 on the Forbes 2019 America’s Best Midsize Employers list.
Brookshire created the William A. Brookshire Foundation to provide scholarships for children of S&B employees and engineering students who are also working to support themselves (as he did).
A dedicated Cullen College supporter, Brookshire founded two scholarships to help ease the financial burdens of working students – the William A. Brookshire Scholarship designed to aid students taking a full course load (12 semester hours) and working at least 20 hours a week and the William A. Brookshire IMPACT Scholarship for students who are working full-time, taking a full course load and paying for college on their own with no outside financial support.
He also donated $1 million to the Cullen College to create the William A. Brookshire Teaching Excellence Award Endowment, whose annual distributed income honors Cullen College faculty “who demonstrate an unwavering commitment to exemplifying the highest levels of teaching excellence inside the classroom.”
He ensured that the foundation would live beyond him and continue to support students. Since the creation of these scholarships, more than 450 scholarships have been awarded to UH engineering students. He often shared stories and accomplishments of his scholarship recipients, whom he got to know through annual visits to the schools and their letters to him.
Brookshire was named a Cullen College Distinguished Engineering Alumnus in 1989 and a University of Houston Distinguished Alumni. He was also a 1998 recipient of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Engineering and Construction Contracting Division Award.
He was very giving of his time and was also involved with the Government Programs Steering Committee and the Engineering and Construction Contracting Division of the AIChE, the Rice University Engineering Board of Review, and the Board of Industrial Advisors for the UH College of Technology.
He is survived by his three children, Lori and her husband John Garrison, James "Brook" and his wife Julie Brookshire, and Christina "Crissy" Brookshire. His legacy will shine on in his treasured grandchildren, William "Will" Brookshire, Connor Garrison, and Caroline Garrison, and the many scholarship recipients that benefited from his generosity.
DISTINGUISHED ENGINEERING ALUMNI AWARDS
Charles N. Grichar, P.E. (BSChE '73)
Corporate Legal Liaison, National Oilwell Varco Inc.
Charles N. Grichar, P.E., has over 40 years of experience working in the oilfield equipment and oilfield services industries. He recently retired from National Oilwell Varco, where he last served as corporate legal liaison in the Intellectual Property Group.
Grichar graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Houston in 1973, and pursued graduate level studies both at UH and the University of Texas Medical School in San Antonio from 1974 to 1976.
He started his career as an applications engineer with Pioneer Centrifuging Company in Houston in 1976. Grichar was promoted to senior applications engineer and then vice president of special projects in 1980. He remained in that position until 1987, when he joined Sweco Oilfield Services as executive vice president.
Soon after joining Sweco, he became one of three managing partners in 1989 and remained in that position until the company was sold to SCF Partners in 1995.
At that point, Grichar became president and general manager of the Brandt Group, which remains part of the National Oilwell Varco (NOV) portfolio today.
From 1996 through 2013, Grichar served in various roles – as vice president of Solids Control Technology for Tuboscope, and group vice president of Engineering and Technology for Varco Drilling Equipment.
Varco merged with National Oilwell in 2006, forming the current entity, National Oilwell Varco, at which time Grichar became group vice president of engineering for Rig Solutions, NOV’s largest division. He remained in that role until 2013, when he became senior vice president of corporate engineering for NOV, and finally, corporate legal liaison.
Grichar has been recognized as an authority in the field of oilfield solids control engineering and technology for decades. He was instrumental in the invention and application of various shale shakers/screens, centrifuges, and filtration devices which are still deployed on drilling sites today. He was also an early pioneer and enabler in the field of environmental waste cleanup and the oilfield “green movement”.
He has authored numerous industry articles on solids/liquids/gas separation technology, written several chapters concerning separation techniques in chemical engineering and oilfield textbooks, served on various industry committees and sub-committees dealing with separation technology/environmental control, and holds dozens of United States and Foreign Patents relating to oilfield equipment and separation techniques.
Grichar was past president of the Filtration Society – Texas Chapter, and is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Society of Petroleum Engineers. He currently serves on two non-profit board of directors and has held similar board positions for NOV in their various for-profit worldwide joint ventures.
A Texan and a life-long resident of Houston, Grichar maintains close ties and support of the Houston business and cultural communities.
His outside interests include collecting clocks and watches and various other horological devices, collecting early American furniture and sculpture and participating in various forest land stewardship programs.
DISTINGUISHED ENGINEERING ALUMNI AWARDS
The Honorable Dennis R. Paul, P.E., (BSCE '86, MSCE '91)
Texas State Representative for House District 129 in Harris County.
Dennis Paul is a Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives representing House District 129.
First elected in 2014, Paul is serving his third term as state representative. During his second legislative session he served as the vice chair of the Texas Ports, Innovation & Infrastructure Select Committee. He is also a member the House Rules and Resolutions committee and the Insurance and Pensions Committees.
Additionally, during his first session, he started the Aerospace Legislative Caucus and became House chairman of that caucus. The Aerospace Caucus was formed to promote initiatives to secure Texas’ ranking as a world leader advancing space exploration, science and security. He worked on various issues, including supporting the Ellington Field spaceport, a coastal barrier system, U.S. Africa Command moving to Ellington, property and business tax cuts and pension reform.
Representative Paul supported the governor's agenda for the special session, including bills pertaining to mail-in ballot fraud, creating a maternal mortality and morbidity task force, ending forced municipal annexation, looking at public school finance reform, adding money to TRS-Care (the healthcare program for Texas' retired teachers) and establishing the Texas Commission on School Finance Reform.
Paul is a native Houstonian, a small business owner and a structural engineer. He graduated cum laude in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the UH Cullen College of Engineering.
While at UH, Paul was vice president of the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers and also the president of Chi Epsilon, the civil engineering honors society. He was awarded the first ever UH Engineering Alumni Scholarship.
Paul went onto earn a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University in 1991. During his second round of studies at UH, Paul met and married fellow graduate student Eliza Ching.
After graduation, Paul was employed at CBM Engineers and worked on numerous high rise structures and several multi-million dollar projects. He then went to work for Carter and Burgess Engineers in July of 1995 and started the Structural Engineering Group for the Houston office, where he worked up to major projects project manager.
In 2002, he started Paul Engineering Inc. and has served as its president since that time. He and his company have worked on many landmark structures in southeast Harris and Galveston counties. He has also been active in many professional societies, including the Structural Engineers Association of Texas (SEAoT), Texas Society of Professional Engineers, American Concrete Institute and American Institute of Steel Construction.
The Pauls’ daughter, Elizabeth, is following in her parents' footsteps and is completing her graduate degree in engineering from the University of Texas. The family attends St. Bernadette's Catholic Church and resides in Clear Lake.
Ryan J. Baird, (BSEE '01)
Founder & President, Johnson Street Partners.
Ryan Baird, who graduated from the University of Houston in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and from Rice University in 2012 with a master’s in business administration, is an innovative entrepreneur always looking for new challenges.
He founded his current venture, Johnson Street Partner (JSP), in 2018. The business is involved in a variety of projects, including real-estate development and assisting clients with new innovative beverage products. Prior to starting JSP, he co-founded and was president of Yellow Rose Distilling, the Houston area’s first whiskey distillery. Yellow Rose whiskey has won numerous gold medals at the San Francisco and New York Spirits competitions and craft festivals. The distillery was listed in the top 10 fastest growing UH Coog-owned companies two of the past three years (Cougar 100 awards) before being acquired by a larger international beverage conglomerate.
Before entering the spirits industry, Baird worked in various sales, marketing and engineering roles at tech companies including ON Semiconductor, Micron and Hewlett Packard. He is actively involved with a variety of UH alumni programs and is a regular speaker at Rice University for strategic management and marketing classes.
DISTINGUISHED YOUNG ENGINEERING ALUMNI AWARD
Carol K. Schmidt, P.E. (BSChE '07)
Project Engineer, Wood
Carol Schmidt is a project engineer at Wood, which provides performance-driven solutions throughout the asset life cycle – from concept to decommissioning across a broad range of industrial markets, including the upstream, midstream and downstream oil and gas, power and process, environment and infrastructure, clean energy, mining, nuclear and general industrial sectors.
Schmidt, who was a first generation college graduate, earned her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering – minoring in math and chemistry – from the UH Cullen College of Engineering in 2007. She worked various jobs to help pay for her education, but was also very active in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the UH Honors College. She also received a teaching scholarship through the Program for the Mastery in Engineering Studies (PROMES) at UH.
After graduation, she married fellow Coog Nathan Schmidt (BSME ’05, MBA ’16) and started working as a process engineer at Waldemar S. Nelson. She spent almost five years there, working on various upstream onshore and offshore projects before earning her P.E. license and moving to Jacobs Upstream to become a process lead. After a working with a commissioning manager, she moved into facilities engineering. During the upstream downturn in 2015, Schmidt served as sales engineer for SGL Carbon in the process equipment sector, gaining a deep appreciation for the commercial side of engineering. In 2018, she returned to upstream as a project engineer for Wood.
Schmidt is an active member of the AIChE South Texas Section was STS-AIChE’s Young Engineer of the Year in 2009 as well as being nominated in 2017 for AIChE’s 35 under 35 award.
The Schmidts have been married for over a decade and are raising two delightful boys (doomed to become engineers). They regularly attend UH sports games and EAA tailgating.
ROGER EICHHORN SERVICE AWARD
Heidi Aldersman, P.E. (BSCE '85)
Senior Vice President, Chemical Intermediates, North America BASF Corp.
Heidi S. Alderman is an experienced global chemical industry executive, with over 30 years of experience. She heads a $1 billion business of manufacturing and marketing intermediate chemicals created in plants across Texas and Louisiana. She also serves on BASF's executive diversity council, where she actively works to increase the hiring and promotion of women and underrepresented groups at BASF.
After earning her bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, Alderman began her career in 1981 as a process engineer at Rohm and Haas in Philadelphia, PA. She went on to earn a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Drexel University and completed the Wharton School’s Management Program.
She landed a new role at Air Products and Chemicals in 1995 and climbed the ranks, becoming a procurement manager and a business manager before taking a position at BASF in 2003 as business director. In less than two years she was promoted to vice president.
With more than 150 people working under her, Alderman said she had to learn how to create an environment in which employees are united by a singular vision and feel that they are part of something bigger, something great. "If you treat others as you wish to be treated, no matter how high you go in an organization, that's what allows people to succeed," she said.
Alderman was promoted to senior vice president of procurement in 2008 followed by senior vice president of petrochemicals in 2011 before taking on her current role as senior vice president of intermediates in 2016.
As a member of the Cullen College Engineering Leadership Board for over eight years (including two years in service as chair of the board), Alderman provides invaluable input on the college's curricula and programs from the perspective of a seasoned industry leader. Along the way she has mentored and advised countless engineering students, sponsored the Program for Mastery in Engineering Studies (PROMES), spoken at events and workshops, and connected UH Cullen College students and alumni with internship, co-op and full-time positions at BASF.
ABRAHAM E. DUKLER DISTINGUISHED ENGINEERING FACULTY AWARD
Debora Rodrigues, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, UH Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Debora Rodrigues is an associate professor in civil and environmental engineering at the UH Cullen College of Engineering. For the past nine years, she has been teaching at the Cullen College and leading several research projects focused on improving water quality and sustainability.
Her goal is to understand the aquatic system and its microbial ecology, investigate the effects of nanomaterials on the environment and develop new energy-efficient and affordable technologies to remove harmful contaminants and keep aquatic systems safe. Her mission is to provide global access to clean water through affordable purifying technologies.
As an undergraduate at the University of Sao Paolo in Brazil, she participated in environmentally-related fieldwork and worked with water and sanitation issues, both of which involved her visiting communities and slum areas – called favelas – plagued with disease and high child mortality rates.
Lack of safe drinking water and proper sanitation increase the chance for outbreaks of waterborne diseases like diarrhea, typhoid, hepatitis and cholera.
In one community, after she and her team collected and tested the water, they discovered it was contaminated with Cryptosporidium – a microscopic parasitic protozoa that causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis. The community had built septic systems close to their wells, leading to contaminated ground water.
“I saw these people collecting the water from the wells. The water was very clear and fresh, but full of invisible microbes,” Rodrigues says. “They’d drink directly from the wells because they thought it was clean. A lot of people in that region suffered with diarrhea and children, especially the younger ones, were dying, because of these water transmittable diseases.”
Even today she tears up recalling those memories.
“It was sad, but it made me realize I wanted to make a difference,” Rodrigues says. “So I ended up going into environmental science and engineering.”
She earned a master’s degree in environmental microbiology from the University of Sao Paulo, a doctorate in microbiology and molecular genetics from Michigan State University and a post-doctoral degree in chemical and environmental engineering from Yale University.
Rodrigues gives back in other ways as well – from mentoring junior faculty members and students to outreach efforts and providing career-building workshops. Last summer, she conducted a NSF-funded two-week workshop for women and minority students interested in finding jobs and succeeding in academia.
For more information about the Alumni Awards Gala, visit: https://www.egr.uh.edu/eaa/activities/gala