Faces of Texas Engineering

In just eight short years, Payam Banazadeh (B.S. Aerospace Engineering 2012) skyrocketed from a passionate high school student sitting in an astronomy class to becoming the founder and CEO of Capella Space, the first commercial space company to launch and operate Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites.

Jerry A. Yang is a PhD student in electrical engineering at Stanford University. He received his B.S. in electrical engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 2020. He currently works on strain engineering in two-dimensional materials in Prof. Eric Pop's lab. In addition, he works on exploring the role of internships in first-generation and low-income engineering students' professional identity development in Prof. Sheri Sheppard's Designing Education Lab. He is a member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers as well as a student member of the American Society of Engineering Education. He is also pursuing his M.A. in Education.

Landon Watson, who will graduate with his bachelor's degree in electrical and computer engineering this spring, discusses his time in the Cockrell School of Engineering and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, what led him to engineering and to UT Austin specifically, and where he's headed after graduation.

Women’s History Month is a time to highlight and celebrate the extraordinary women whose legacies empower women today in the pursuit of their dreams. “It wasn’t always this easy for women to learn STEM and be respected in this field, so I am eternally grateful to the women that paved the way for me to have a career at NASA,” said fourth-year biomedical engineering student Sofia Williams.

Siddharth Thakur with FireBot

Every once in a while, a young person already so accomplished comes along and makes you wonder aloud “what am I doing with my life?” Siddharth Thakur is one of those young people. Even in the sea of brilliant future engineers at the Cockrell School, the 17-year-old stands out. 

When Hurricane Ida smashed through Louisiana in August, it left a million people without power. As they tended to fallen trees and destroyed homes, a new problem emerged — no more fuel to power vehicles and generators. That’s when alumnus Hamzah Moin (B.S. Petroleum Engineering 2020) and fellow volunteers with the nonprofit Fuel Relief Fund (FRF) deployed to the state.

In July 1997, Aimee Quon saw NASA’s Sojourner Mars Rover on the cover of Time Magazine and had a passing thought: Wouldn’t it be cool to work on that? Fast forward to April 2021, and the Mars Helicopter Ingenuity made its first successful flight on Mars…with Quon serving as the mission’s chamber test engineer.

As we prepare to celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride month throughout June, we sat down with two recent Texas Engineering graduates, Emil Yongoueth (B.S. ASE 2020) and Joey Saad (B.S. ChE 2020), to talk about their experiences as students and professionals and their involvement leading the Out 4 Undergrad (O4U) Engineering Conference, an event put on by the O4U organization geared toward helping LGBTQ+ undergraduate students excel.

Katharine Fisher is this year's Outstanding Scholar-Leader for the Cockrell School of Engineering — an award that recognizes one graduating student annually for hard work and leadership inside and outside the classroom. However, things may have been very different had she not decided to check out an engineering outreach program on a whim in high school. The California-born, Texas-raised Fisher was always interested in building things and solving hard problems as a kid, a staple of the engineer's brain. But her early schooling did little to encourage this mindset, and slowly her interest in engineering and science drifted away.

Carmen Wright is the first Black woman to graduate with a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from UT Austin. We sat down with Wright to learn more about her other "firsts" and how she encourages others to not let being the first deter you from reaching your goals, to let your idea of success evolve and change as life evolves, and to enjoy the journey rather than solely focusing on the end goal.