15 YEARS BACK...
The path to a graduate degree in engineering is seldom a straight line from high school to an undergraduate degree and beyond. “The Road Less Traveled: Ph.D. in Engineering” allowed seven prominent doctoral graduates of the Cullen College of Engineering to talk about their journey when it came to higher education. The subjects profiled, and where they are now:
Bonnie Dunbar, Biomedical Engineering, '83. Dunbar completed her degree while working for NASA, and on five different missions, she logged more than 50 days in space. She retired from the organization in 2005. On terra firma, she served as the president and CEO of the Museum of Flight in Seattle until 2010. Dunbar was a member of the Cullen faculty until 2015. She is now a professor at Texas A&M.
Patrick Fink, Electrical Engineering, '02. Fink is now the Chief Technologist for the Wireless and Communication Systems Branch of NASA. A 20-year veteran of the organization, he has worked extensively in the areas of antenna design and development, computational electromagnetic simulations and radio frequency identification systems. In 2020, he was selected for the NASA Inventors Hall of Fame.
Ven Pinjala, Chemical Engineering, '85. After a 24-year career at Aspen Technology – also known as AspenTech, an asset optimization software company – Pinjala retired in the summer of 2021. For his last seven years there, he served as Regional Business Director for the company, which has close to 1,500 employees nationally and more than $600 million in yearly revenue.
Xiuli Wang, Chemical Engineering, '00. Wang is now a consultant with more than 20 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, thanks to long stints at industry leaders like Baker Hughes and BP. In addition to being a past lecturer at UH, Wang also served as the associate editor-in-chief of The Journal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering.
Daniel Wong, Civil Engineering, '88. Wong is President and CEO of Tolunay-Wong Engineers, Inc., which is headquartered in Houston and has 10 offices in Texas and Louisiana. The firm employs hundreds of engineers, scientists and other professionals, and consults on a variety of projects in the Gulf Coast region. Wong has given generously to the College, establishing an Endowed Professorship in 2020, and he was named the 2022 Houston Engineer of the Year.
Victor Zaloom, Industrial Engineering, '70. Zaloom was named Associate Dean of Engineering at Lamar University in 2006, and served in that role until 2010, as well as a tenured professor. Since then, he has also served as an Interim Dean of the school's Graduate School, as well as the College of Engineering, through 2019. He is currently the Interim Chairman of the Department of Industrial Engineering.
Feng Zhang, Mechanical Engineering, '05. After four years as a research engineer for Ford and two years for an automotive company in Shanghai, Zhang transitioned into the energy industry. After seven years working for Envision Energy, digitizing aspects of the wind turbine industry and dealing with product engineering, he became a product director for Utopus Insights. His work focuses on wind, solar, battery and hybrid renewable energy farms.