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Mike Plank, mechanical engineering graduate and Texas A&M University System member of the Board of Regents
Michael Plank with a plaque honoring department namesake and fellow Outstanding Alumni Award recipient J. Mike Walker | Image: Steve Kuhlmann/Texas A&M Engineering Communications

Mechanical engineering department namesake J. Mike Walker and incoming Texas A&M University System Regent Michael Plank were recently honored with the Outstanding Alumni Award by the College of Engineering.

Walker, who died in December, received the award posthumously. His wife, Donna Walker, was present at the banquet in his place.

A class of 1966 graduate, Walker earned his bachelor’s degree and doctoral degree from Texas A&M. He went on to co-found Dril-Quip, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of offshore drilling and production equipment. When he retired in 2011 as chairman, president and CEO the company had a market cap in excess of $4 billion and more than 2,200 employees worldwide.

Walker’s generous support of mechanical engineering at Texas A&M was acknowledged in October 2018 when the department announced it would be renamed in his honor.

Plank, who graduated from the department in 1983, said he was honored by the recognition.

“It’s so lovely to be recognized by the university and my peers,” Plank said. “It’s a combination of a lot of years of hard work and effort. It’s wonderful knowing that the efforts you put forth have come to fruition.” 

Plank serves as chairman and CEO of The Plank Companies, Inc. and three affiliated companies: National Property Holdings, Rail Logix and Speed Shore Corporation. He is a member and past chairman of the Young Presidents’ Organization and past president of the Trench Shoring & Shielding Association of America and the Houston Equipment Distributors. He has also served as a gubernatorial appointee to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Governor's University Research Initiative Board. 

 Earlier this year, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Plank would be one of three incoming members to serve on The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. He will be sworn in later this year.