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Michael Garner
Michael Garner received the Craig C. Brown Outstanding Senior Engineer Award, which is presented to a student who excels scholastically, exemplifies leadership and whose character exceeds standards. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Michael Garner, a senior in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University, was awarded the most prestigious honor available to a graduating senior ­from the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University — the Craig C. Brown Outstanding Senior Engineer Award.

The award is presented to a student who excels scholastically, exemplifies leadership and whose character exceeds standards.

“It's surreal to receive this award," Garner said. "Quite honestly, I don't think that I'm exceptional, I've just been trying to prepare myself as well as possible for my future career. It's hard to put into words. It makes me incredibly proud that I can represent the university at such a high level and that they would see me as worthy of this award.”

Garner, who comes from a long lineage of family military ties, chose to attend Texas A&M because of its strengths in both a strong military education program through the Air Force ROTC (Reserve Officers' Training Corps) and Corps of Cadets programs and in the quality of engineering education and research opportunities.

It makes me incredibly proud that I can represent the university at such a high level and that they would see me as worthy of this award.

Michael Garner

Garner is also a Brown Scholar and credits part of his decision to attend Texas A&M because of his connection to Craig Brown (the namesake of the Craig and Galen Brown Foundation) and his interactions with other Brown Scholars.

“The way Mr. Brown talked about A&M and seeing all of the other students who I'd be working with, just how accomplished they were and how driven they were, really left an inspiring impression on me," Garner said. "That told me that this is the place that I needed to be."

With his eyes set on pursuing further education, he has also participated in the electrical and computer engineering fast-track program, which allows students to take graduate-level courses as an undergraduate. He was drawn to study electrical engineering because of its versatility and his interest in optics.

“I knew that I really wanted to pursue optics, angling toward the high-intensity laser and inertial confinement nuclear fusion research areas,” Garner said. “But if for some reason that didn't work out, electrical engineering would provide plenty of options for me to spin off and do something else. I thought it was a very versatile degree that teaches a lot of different things that would be useful in whatever career field I found myself in.”

Deepening his involvement in this area, he has worked alongside electrical and computer engineering professor Dr. Christi Madsen on an undergraduate research thesis in the optics field of study.

Garner will graduate in May, and because of his efforts in Air Force ROTC, will join the United States Air Force as a commissioned officer. He hopes to complete his graduate degree and continue to make an impact on those around him as a leader and in the field of optics.

“I’m proud to be carrying on my family tradition of service in the military. I’m trying to balance having a research-oriented career with a leadership-oriented career as a military officer. I hope to use my technical background to benefit the Air Force and make positive impacts in any way I can.”

Texas A&M remains one of only six senior military colleges in the U.S. where ROTC programs are offered. The Corps of Cadets is the largest uniformed body outside the national service academies and has historically produced more officers than any other institution in the nation other than the academies.