The Technology Division's Medhat El Nahas, instructional professor of Engineering Technology, has a keen eye for potential. Whether he's reaching out to industry colleagues to keep tabs on professional openings for his students or visiting Houston-area high schoolers to promote education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, he sees opportunities to enhance his community wherever he goes.
"It's not only money that one can give to benefit their college or university. Giving back with opportunities for students – contacting friends in the industry about scholarships, internships, part-time and full-time jobs – can also make a big difference,” he said. “The worst scenario is that someone replies and says no. I am not shy, even when it comes to hearing no. if I help find even [one student a] job each year, I still consider that success.”
In 2023, El Nahas was recognized by Galena Park Independent School District and its Board of Trustees for his outstanding dedication to and support of their district and high schools. Of particular note is his participation with the North Shore High School Center's "Men of Greatness" club, with whom he discussed the future and opportunities of engineering educations and careers.
"I decided to visit as many schools as possible. I gave myself an assignment to visit at least one new high school per semester – Houston ISD this time, maybe Humble ISD next time, then maybe Richmond and then Sugar Land, and so on – so that I could truly get to know the students coming to our university," said El Nahas.
"My usual presentation is an introduction to engineering education. It explains the difference between, for example, mechanical engineering and mechanical engineering technology, and the difference between engineering and science. I also push to hear their thoughts – why do we need engineers? What are they doing today? I can have a concurrent meeting with someone who is 10,000 miles away from me. I can watch the World Cup at the same it's being played on the field from my cell phone, no matter where I am. How have engineering and technology impacted our lives, and how can our lives impact engineering and technology?"
El Nahas earned his Ph.D. from Cullen's Mechanical Engineering Department in 2011, and he has served as a senator for the University of Houston's Faculty Senate since 2017. He doesn't undertake these efforts for the public recognition or acclaim.
"When I was a student, I didn't have many opportunities to, for example, get somebody from the industry to come in and speak to us, so I decided from my first day as a professor to establish this collaboration with both my industry contacts and with high school students,” he said. “I can be the connection between all of these groups. My mission here is to promote engineering education and ensure that the next generation is aware of their options – their opportunities. … I've been able to reach out to so many people and build a very special trust with them. I'm not coming to take anything; instead, I'm building a relationship."
The one thing he does take away from these interactions is insight.
"What could improve my teaching style? What do I need to know about these incoming students? What do they need to know about the industry?" he said. "We learn from one another."