On the Move, April 2015

The University of Texas at Austin has named Michael M. Watkins, Ph.D. (TX A ’83), as the next director of the Center for Space Research (CSR) at the Cockrell School of Engineering. Watkins will begin his new position in July 2015. He has worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for 22 years and currently oversees the JPL Science Division. “In addition to planning and overseeing the Curiosity mission operations and managing its exploration on the Martian surface, Watkins has led various teams for many of NASA’s most high-profile missions, including the Cassini, Mars Odyssey and Deep Impact probes as well as the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) and the GRACE Follow-On mission.”

Watkins received his bachelor’s degree and doctorate from UT Austin in aerospace engineering “and has worked with CSR in several capacities since the center was established in 1981.” He will be the second CSR director, taking over for aerospace engineering professor Bryon L. Tapley, Ph.D. (TX A ’56). “Tapley established the center with the goal of monitoring the Earth through satellite imaging, establishing CSR as a primary resource for research and expertise in satellite data gathering.”
Read the news announcement


The American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) has announced the election of five officers to its Board of Directors by the membership. According to the 2015 Board Election results web page, “board members will begin their terms at the society’s annual conference in June (2015) in Seattle, WA.” Tau Bates include:

President-Elect: Louis A. Martin-Vega, Ph.D, P.E. (PR A ’68)
Vice President, External Relations: Catherine K. Skikan, Ph.D. (CO A ’70)
Chair-Elect, Zone IV: Sean W. St. Clair, Ph.D., P.E. (UT G ’98)


Houssam A. Toutanji, Ph.D., has been selected as the next dean of Western Michigan University’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Currently, Dr. Toutanji is a professor and chair of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He will become acting dean on July 1, 2015. Dr. Toutanji will succeed Anthony J. Vizzini, Ph.D. (MA B ’81), who is now provost and vice president for academic affairs at Wichita State University. For more information, read the news release


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