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The words, 2021 Outstanding Alumni Banquet, over a photo of the following people standing in front of a mural at the banquet: M. Katherine Banks, Cedric J. Sims, James Peery, Mike A. Hernandez III, Kirk A. Shireman, Phillip McDivitt, Joe Wright and Starlee Sykes.
From left: Dean M. Katherine Banks, Dr. Cedric J. Sims ’94, Dr. James Peery ’84, Mike A. Hernandez III ’83, Kirk A. Shireman ’85, Phillip McDivitt ’87, Joe Wright ’82 and Starlee Sykes ’97. | Image: Courtesy of Michael Kellett

The Texas A&M University College of Engineering honored eight former students during the 2021 Outstanding Alumni Awards Banquet. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the College of Engineering was unable to host the 2020 Outstanding Alumni Awards Banquet last year and instead recognized the honorees with a banquet April 29, 2021.
Receiving the Outstanding Alumni Award were Captain Eric C. Doyle ’95, Mike A. Hernandez III ’83, Phillip McDivitt ’87, James Peery ’84, Kirk A. Shireman ’85, Dr. Cedric J. Sims ’94, Starlee Sykes ’97 and Joe Wright ’82. 

Outstanding Alumni Honor Awards

Captain Eric C. Doyle ’95
Civil Engineering
Director of the Blue Angels, Super Hornet Transition Team
Captain Eric C. Doyle attended Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida, where he earned his commission as an ensign in the U.S. Navy in December 1996. He was designated a naval aviator in April 1999, and received orders to the “Rough Raiders” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125 at Naval Air Station in Lemoore, California, for F/A-18C Hornet training. In July 2003, he was selected to attend Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN), where he remained as a staff instructor.
Upon completing his tour at TOPGUN, he served as a training officer and deployed aboard the USS Harry S. Truman in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Following this tour, he was a department head and deployed aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During his tour he was named the 2009 LCDR Michael Hoff G. Attack Aviator of the Year. Doyle flew the F-22A Raptor from February 2011 to January 2014 as an operational test pilot and was executive officer of the “Stingers” of VFA-113 in August 2014.
He assumed command of the Stingers in December 2015 and led VFA-113 through the transition to the F/A-18E Super Hornet. Doyle joined the Blue Angels in September 2017. His decorations include two Meritorious Service Medals, seven Strike/Flight Air Medals, five Navy Commendation Medals, Navy Achievement Medals and various personal, unit and service awards.
Doyle received his bachelor of science degree in civil engineering in 1996 from Texas A&M.

Mike A. Hernandez III ’83
Industrial Distribution
Owner and chief executive officer, D&M Leasing
Owner and dealer principal of Four Stars Ford, Four Stars Chevrolet Buick, Four Stars Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram and Four Stars Toyota
Mike A. Hernandez is owner and chief executive officer of D&M Leasing, and owner and dealer principal of Four Stars Ford, Four Stars Chevrolet Buick, Four Stars Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram and Four Stars Toyota. He is a member of the National Automobile Dealers Association and the Texas Automobile Dealers Association.
Hernandez is a member of the advisory committee to Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp for the McAllen Campus of Texas A&M and the advisory committee to Lt. Governor Dan Patrick on workforce training. He was appointed a member of the Texas A&M System Board of Regents by Gov. Greg Abbott in 2019, his term expires Feb. 1, 2025.
Hernandez is founder and president of the Hernandez Foundation and a member of the Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate. He has served on the boards of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation of Fort Worth, the Family Shelter of Arlington and the River Legacy Foundation of Arlington. He also founded the Brownsville Scholars Program.
He received a Bachelor of Science in industrial distribution from Texas A&M.

Phillip McDivitt ’87

Chemical Engineering
President and CEO, Ascend Performance Materials

Phillip McDivitt is president and chief executive officer of Ascend Performance Materials, the world’s largest fully integrated producer of polyamide 66, the primary material used in items such as car air bags, high-performance plastics for the lightweighting on vehicles, cable tie fastening systems and athletic wear.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Ascend developed Acteev Protect fibers, fabrics and plastics. Acteev has proven effective at destroying bacteria and viruses on contact and can be utilized in a broad range of applications such as face masks, medical clothing and equipment and air filtration.
McDivitt joined Ascend in 2015 and became chief executive officer in 2017. Under his leadership, Ascend has achieved record financial performance, environmental, health and safety performance, and expanded its reach into local communities through the Ascend Cares Foundation. Prior to joining Ascend, McDivitt spent over 27 years with the Celanese Corporation. He serves on the advisory council for the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, and he and his wife Kim provide support to the faculty, students and facilities by giving back to the department. They have also established endowed scholarships in three other departments at Texas A&M.
McDivitt earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Texas A&M in 1987, and his master’s in business administration from The University of Texas at Dallas in 1996.

Dr. James S. Peery ’84
Nuclear Engineering
Laboratories Director, Sandia National Laboratories
As the director for Sandia National Laboratories, Dr. James S. Peery provides leadership and management direction for the safe, secure execution of all Sandia missions. Before his appointment as Sandia director on Jan. 1, 2020, Peery served as associate laboratory director for national security sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, overseeing research and development programs that support the national security missions of the U.S. Department of Energy and other government agencies.
Peery began his career at Sandia in 1990. He worked in the Computational Solid Mechanics and Structural Dynamics Department and the Computational Physics Department. Peery has been responsible for the development of state-of-the-art, massively parallel computational tools spanning the fields of high energy density physics to structural dynamics.
His major research areas are in Arbitrary Lagrangian-Eulerian algorithms and parallel algorithms, where he has published more than 50 papers.
As part of the Salinas team, he was awarded the 2002 Gordon Bell Award. Peery holds a doctoral degree in nuclear engineering from Texas A&M.

Kirk A. Shireman ’85
Aerospace Engineering
Vice President, Lockheed Martin Space
Kirk Shireman currently serves as vice president for the Lockheed Martin Lunar Exploration Campaign (LEC), a position he has held since July 2020. LEC is responsible for the development of the Ascent Element of the Human Lunar System’s National Team. The LEC is also responsible for the development of future systems and vehicles to support human space exploration on the lunar surface, in lunar orbit and beyond.
Prior to joining Lockheed Martin, he served as the International Space Station (ISS) program manager. He was responsible for the overall management, development, integration and operation of the ISS.
In March 2019, Shireman received the National Space Club Astronautics Engineer Award. He has also been recognized with NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal, NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal for successful integration of the ISS’s Russian elements, the Silver Snoopy Award in 1990 and the Presidential Rank Award twice, in 2010 and 2017.
In 2013, Shireman received the Eagle Manned Mission Award for his outstanding leadership of the ISS from the National Space Club at its 56th Annual Robert H. Goddard Memorial Dinner in Washington, D.C.
Shireman holds a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering that he received in 1985.

Dr. Cedric J. Sims ’94
Computer Science and Engineering
Senior Vice President – Booz Allen’s Justice, Homeland Security and Transportation
Dr. Cedric Sims is a senior leader within Booz Allen’s Justice, Homeland Security and Transportation business. Sims develops strategies to foster integration across the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and delivers expertise, primarily cyber and analytics, to support complex missions. He has more than 25 years of experience in acquisitions and risk management, cybersecurity, capital planning, portfolio and program governance, and systems engineering applied to homeland security missions.
From 2010-12, he established and led the DHS Office of Program Accountability and Risk Management. He also chaired the Centers of Excellence Council and provided strategic leadership to component acquisition executives.
Sims served as executive director of the Enterprise Business Management Office within the DHS Office of the chief information officer. Before joining DHS headquarters, Sims served in leadership roles within the U.S. Secret Service. While with the Secret Service, he also served as branch chief of network management, DHS senior infrastructure officer and interagency communication coordination at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, G8 Summit in Sea Island and various United Nations General Assemblies.
Sims holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and in journalism, and a doctoral degree in engineering, all from Texas A&M.

Starlee Sykes
Mechanical Engineering
BP Regional President, Gulf of Mexico and Canada
Starlee Sykes serves as regional president for the Gulf of Mexico and Canada region, the highest revenue generating business in the BP upstream portfolio.
With more than 20 years of international oil and gas experience in project management, performance, operations and finance, Sykes has been a strong proponent of standardized hardware for BP’s projects worldwide and improving the company’s collaborations with industry partners.
She was named an outstanding leader in energy by the Houston Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business, and is also a recipient of the 2018 STEP Ahead Award from the National Association of Manufacturers’ Manufacturing Institute. Sykes is an advocate for women and girls in STEM careers and is active in her community.
Sykes received her mechanical engineering degree from Texas A&M.

Joe Wright ’82
Petroleum Engineering
Concho Resources
Joe Wright began his career working on rigs in the Texas Panhandle for Mewbourne Oil Company as a field engineer.
He moved to Midland, Texas, in 1984 to oversee the company’s Midland Basin assets until he was transferred to their headquarters in Tyler, Texas in 1988. There, Wright was responsible for developing a waterflood in Lea County, New Mexico. He helped create a public partnership offering that Mewbourne still uses today.
After 16 years of working for Mewbourne, Wright relocated to Midland in 1998 to start an oil and gas company with his long-time friend and college roommate, Tim Leach, CEO, chairman of the board and founder of Concho Resources. Wright participated in the founding of all three versions of Concho. In 2013, he became the executive vice president and chief operating officer, a role he served in until his retirement in 2019.
Currently, he serves as a member of Concho’s board of directors. Wright is a member of First Christian Church and strong supporter of COM Aquatic and Texas A&M where he currently serves as trustee of the 12th Man Foundation. He is a member of Oil States International board of directors. In 2014, he was named recipient of the Texas A&M Petroleum Engineering Academy of Distinguished Graduates.
Wright earned his bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M in 1982.