staff excellence awards 2022

Every year, Texas Engineering recognizes our staff across the school with the Staff Excellence Awards, which are based on exemplary performance and outstanding and creative contributions to the Cockrell School. Recipients are non-teaching personnel who have distinguished themselves in the Cockrell School. They receive a plaque and a cash award of $1,000. Cockrell School Interim Dean Roger Bonnecaze presented this year's awards on May 13. In addition, the Cockrell School recognized the recipient of this year's Texas Exes' James W. Vick Award for Academic Advising.

The 2021-22 Cockrell School Staff Excellence Award recipients are:

Ila Awasthi, software developer and analyst for the Construction Industry Institute, was recognized for technical expertise, teamwork, problem-solving skills and respect toward her peers and community members. She was key to the success of a collaborative effort with UT's Texas Advanced Computing Center to deploy a high-performance computing infrastructure that produces more advanced construction performance assessment analytics.

Terrie Chandler, assistant director of the Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering, was recognized as a much-adored team captain of the department who is always ready to do whatever needed to get the job done. She engages students, faculty and staff, seeing them all as valued members of the department. One faculty member said that "Terrie is perhaps the most critical staff member who keeps the department running smoothly."

Monica Choi, associate director of the Engineering Career Assistance Center, was recognized for her positive energy and attitude, trust, leadership skills and collaborative spirit. She has assisted thousands of students to build their confidence through her critical career guidance, while developing relationships with companies to create connections and networking opportunities.

Valerie Croft, senior administrative associate in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, was recognized for her commitment to the Cockrell School and her care for the students, faculty and staff that she works alongside. She has been described as indispensable in her behind-the-scenes role as the department's purchaser, one of the most critical positions, helping to advance the research mission of the department.

Gabriel Hernandez, director of information technology services in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was recognized for his professionalism, passion and dedication to the department. In additional to his rapid response time for classroom support, he has been instrumental in supporting students by spearheading the department's laptop loner program, as well as creating Canvas pages and generating all student listservs.

Jennifer Horsak, senior financial analyst in the Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering, was recognized for excelling in her role in both the technical financial side as well as the customer service side. She works closely with faculty, staff and graduate students and continually reviews the financial processes and looks for ways to streamline and pull more data out of what is available.

Selina Keilani, chief business officer for the Center for Transportation Research, was recognized for her creativity, forward thinking, positive attitude, diligence and leadership. As the center transitioned to a shared services model, she organized staff across three units and developed a framework to handle accounting, purchasing, appointments and other timely administrative needs, making the implementation seamless.

Cindy Wilson, director of academic projects in the office of Academic Affairs, was recognized for her enthusiasm, expertise and diligence to ensure that all program reports for accreditation are exemplary, in addition to providing advanced planning and administrative support activies for the associate dean for academic affairs as well as many other projects with faculty and advising staff.

The 2021-22 recipient of the Vick Award for Academic Advising is:

Kelly Frazier, academic advisor in the Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering, was recognized for her great attitude and strong trusted relationships having truly impacted students in positive ways. She goes above and beyond and they all speak very fondly about her, saying she is quick to answer questions, genuinely cares about students and always provides resources to help them succeed.