By Stephen Greenwell
A professor at the University of Houston's Cullen College of Engineering earned yet another national distinction, as his work in providing unique learning experiences for students was recognized by the Career Communications Group's U.S. Black Engineer and Information Technology magazine, and the Council of Engineering Deans of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Jerrod A. Henderson, the director of the Program for Mastery in Engineering Studies (PROMES) and an Assistant Professor in the William A. Brookshire Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, earned the Black Engineer of the Year (BEYA) Educational Leadership – College-Level Promotion of Education Award. He was nominated for the honor by Michael P. Harold, the chairman of the department at the time.
Henderson was notified of the honor in early December.
“My immediate reaction was an overwhelming sense of joy, appreciation and gratitude,” he said. “It’s nice to be recognized for simply doing what you love doing — teaching, mentoring, and providing leadership, academic and engagement opportunities for students. This recognition is full circle for me. My first time attending a BEYA conference was as a sixth grade student in the 'MENTOR Program,' founded by Mr. Nathaniel Vause in Kinston, North Carolina, now here I am earning a BEYA award.”
According to correspondence from the magazine's editor, “Dr. Henderson’s achievements in STEM stood out among the hundreds of nominations that were evaluated by the BEYA Selection Panel.”
Henderson attributed his success to support he has received from the administration at UH and fellow professors.
“I've only been at UH for four years, but I’ve had the opportunity to dream big and have received so much support to do so from Minerva Carter, Dean Joseph Tedesco, Dr. Fritz Claydon — my first supervisor at UH — Dr. Roshawnda Anderson, Monique Jones, Rachell Underwood, Dr. Hanadi Rifai, and Dr. Michael Harold to name a few,” he said. “I come up with lots of ideas, find funding to support the ideas, and these folks have helped me make the dreams come true.”
Henderson also identified a few of the efforts he's been proud of in his time at UH. For example, Henderson is the co-founder, with Rick Greer, of the St. Elmo Brady STEM program, which is now at three schools in Houston.
“I helped initiate a faculty-led engineering learning abroad experience, first in Brazil in 2019, and earned the CIEE [Council on International Educational Exchange] grant to take students to Ghana,” he said. “We've been able to provide paid opportunities for engineering students to conduct Engineering Education Research, and I’m proud of being the director of the Program for Mastery in Engineering Studies, our amazing PROMES Scholars, and the things we’ve been able to accomplish in just three years.”
Going forward, Henderson said he is focused on growing the PROMES program from 400 to 600 scholars in the next year, as well as branching into new programs.
“I am a part of a team that is planning to develop an Engineering Education Department at UH, which is my research area, and I’m excited that we have administrative support to make this happen,” he said. “I’m excited that this is recognized on our campus as a viable area of scholarship. We’ve also developed a support program for PROMES Scholars who are interested in graduate school. We look forward to sending at least five PROMES Scholars per year over the next five years to graduate school.”