The 4th annual Open House, Alumni, and Partnership Luncheon of the College of Science and Technology of Texas Southern University was held on November 8th. It was an occasion for alumni and partners to get to know each other and be informed about the Colleges activities.Each year we highlight one of our partners for their contribution to the programs of the College, and point to alumni who are achieving success in their professions. Each year we have a theme for consideration and this year’s theme is “Science and Technology drive the Economy.” Everyone may have sense of that fact, but here briefly considered some of the implications of the situation.
There is an unemployment problem in our society, but corporations and businesses are doing fairly well. They have cash, but they are only hiring in a few areas. They do not seem to need a very large workforce at present, although that will surely change. Workers who can help with the competitive advantage and who are technologically capable to interact with the contemporary technology are needed. So in the College, we must produce a product, our graduates, who satisfy that requirement. Understanding our customer’s requirements helps us to formulate programs that are competitive. The Houston Port Authority (HPA) is a major partner and customer of COST and is the 2012 Partner of the Year.
HPA was instrumental in the establishment of the Maritime Transportation Management and Security degree program with an investment of $2 million. The program has significantly increased the pipeline of students entering the maritime industries. This is the first such university degree program related to Maritime Transportation Management and Security in the Houston area, and the first such at any Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in the country.
The Bachelor of Science degree in Maritime Transportation Management and Security will address three nationally recognized priorities: logistics, security, and the environment in a single curriculum. Graduates of the program will be qualified to work in a variety of administrative and managerial positions in the maritime industry and port operations; function effectively in the disciplines of logistics, security, and environment; and pursue advanced studies in the field of maritime transportation or its affiliated areas. The College pays very close attention to the requirements of our customers and of the Houston Port Authority, in particular.
We also pay very close attention to the capabilities of our suppliers to deliver the raw material that satisfied our requirements. That close communication between our customers and our suppliers gives COST the ability to produce quality products, i.e., competitive graduates. The College is, in many ways, just like a business. We take in a raw material, bring it through our processes, and produce quality products; those products are our alumni, some of whom were honored in the Distinguished Alumni Awards for 2012.
On the supplier side, we want to develop close relationships with the secondary school communities. The issue we need to consider is that we are not getting enough of the raw material. Most students coming to college today are choosing not to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the STEM subjects. But STEM subjects are driving the economy.
Even with the amount of money being spent on direct and supplementary programs in STEM, student aspirations to STEM careers have declined. For example, NSF statistics show that the number of students intending to study computing in college has declined in the past decade by 70% for men and for women the decline is 80%. These numbers are striking and have very serious consequences for the College. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board requires that our programs have a certain level of productivity. If we have too few students in the program, then meeting the productivity requirement is difficult and therefore the program is in jeopardy from the State. The College is, therefore, seriously interested in influencing the aspirations of students toward the study of science and technology.
The Open House was a showcase for the cutting edge programs in COST that prepare students for the contemporary workforce. Among the exemplarily programs are the tracts in computer science that have been constructed to meet the demand. Dr. Aladdin Sleem gave the Faculty Presentation, which focused on the cutting edge programs and research in computer networking and communications. Dr. Sleem is the Chair of the University Curriculum Council and is deeply involved in curriculum matters in the University. Dr. Sleem also shared a letter from a student who expressed his gratitude for the advisement and mentoring he received in the College, which led him to achieve more than he expected.
The keynote speakers were introduced by Dean Lei Yu, who observed that Commissioner Burke was at the inception of the maritime program. Port Commissioner Jimmy A. Burke deliver a stirring address that highlighted the development of the port with the city of Houston and the exciting future the port has as Houston moves toward becoming the leading port in the nation. The commissioner highlighted the volume of shipping and the number of vessels that utilizes the facilities of the port each year. He described the economic impact of the Port in terms of the employment that throughout Texas that is the result of activities at the Port.
Ms. Gilda Ramirez is the co-chair of the industry advisory board of our Maritime Transportation Management and Security program. She has been the key person in the past three years who drove the development of our maritime program from its birth to its full success. Ms. Ramirez joined the Port of Houston Authority in 2002 as manager of Small Business Development. She became the director in March 2004 and was promoted to Vice President of Small Business in 2009.
Distinguished Alumni Awards
COST recognized its alumni with the annual Distinguished Alumni Awards. The awardees for 2012 are: Ms. Athena Perkins from the Department of Aviation Science and Technology, she is Acting Federal Security Director at William P. Hobby Airport; Dr. Sheri Mitchell, a Houston practicing pediatrician, from the Department of Biology; Ms. Christian Zeigler from the Department of Chemistry, a teacher at The Kincaid School; Ms. LaKeisha Melton from the Department of Computer Science, a systems analyst for Cameron International in Houston; Ms. Stephanie C. Osuji from the Department of Engineering Technology, an Air Transportation Systems Specialist for the Federal Aviation Administration; Dr. Renard Thomas from the Department of Environmental Science and Technology, a scientific researcher on the toxicity of polluting substances in the environment at the cellular level; Mr. Christopher McDaniels from the Department of Industrial Technology, proprietor of CMH Consultants, a design, construction, and project management firm; Dr. Alicia Martin, from the Department of Mathematics, is Assistant Principal of Channelview High School; Mr. John Metyko, from the Department of Physics, is a radiation specialist from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer center; and Mr. Donald Perkins, from the Department of Transportation Studies, is agenda director for Houston City Council Member Larry Green and supervisor of District K council office. See the Article on Distinguished Alumni for more information.
Maritime Transportation Students, Faculty, and sponsors