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Work ethic, faculty key to Outstanding Junior flourishing
Stephen Greenwell
Faouzi Tahtouh, a Mechanical Engineering student, has been selected as the 2021-22 Outstanding Junior at the Cullen College of Engineering.
Faouzi Tahtouh, a Mechanical Engineering student, has been selected as the 2021-22 Outstanding Junior at the Cullen College of Engineering.

When Faouzi Tahtouh reflects upon being recognized as the Cullen College of Engineering Outstanding Junior for the 2021-22 academic year, he can't help but feel a bit surprised and a bit humbled.

“I'm just grateful for it,” he said of the honor. “I was thrilled. It was exciting because just getting recognition for your hard work, that meant a lot to me more than anything. All the hard work I'm putting into my academics is paying off. It was exciting to tell my family and my parents all about it. They were proud of me and there was a lot of excitement about it.”

The Mechanical Engineering student attributed his success to his work ethic. When asked how he developed, Tahtouh laughed and said it was thanks to the influence of his mother, first and foremost.

“As a young child, she got me right,” he said. “She made sure from a young age that she spent a lot of time helping me develop. I always wanted to do my best at everything I wanted to do. Why not do my best if I'm going to put my effort into something? She really pushed me to stay on my assignments. As a child, the last thing you want to do is sit down and do your homework, but she stressed that you had to do these things.”

Tahtouh earned his high school degree from North Shore Senior High School, which is in Houston area's Galena Park Independent School District. He then took advantage of geography when it came to continuing his studies – Before starting at UH, he took several general education courses at San Jacinto, which was close enough to his home for him to walk to campus.  

Because of his work ethic, Tahtouh said he wasn't worried about the shift in workload from high school to San Jacinto, or, from San Jacinto to UH.

“I know who I am,” he said. “Regardless of whether I start here or there, I know I can put the hard work in. When I transferred over to UH, I wasn't really concerned.”

Tahtouh cited the good reputation of the Cullen College of Engineering and the industry opportunities of Houston as prominent reasons why he decided to stay close to home.

“I love the city of Houston, and UH is right in the center of Houston,” he said. “They have an excellent engineering program, and throughout the years they've continued to make improvements.” 

He was drawn to Mechanical Engineering specifically because he's always had a fascination with how things “go” and move about in the world.

“I've always been interested in the physics of objects, and how they move,” Tahtouh said. “For example, airplanes flying and cars moving, things flowing, when I was younger I didn't know what engineers dealt with that. My interest in those kind of subjects, that's what pushed me toward Mechanical Engineering.”

At UH, Tahtouh attributed much of his academic success to Holley Love, Ph.D., instructional assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering. He noted that she was the one who informed him about the Outstanding Junior award.

“She's really been helpful for my time at UH,” Tahtouh said. “She's gone above and beyond helping me, whether it's been with classes or the opportunities with engineering. She's really gotten me excited about it.”

Tahtouh has lined up his first internship for the summer with a multinational, Fortune 500-level company. After graduating in 2023, Tahtouh hopes to explore opportunities for working in industry.

“I'm interested in getting my feet wet in industry, and gaining that valuable experience,” he said. “Energy, power systems, I'm interested in stuff like that. Everything is based on power, and I'm interested in learning more about that. There's a lot of things that I don't know, but I'm really open to learning more.”

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