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Congratulations 2022 Distinguished Alumni graphic with headshots of each honoree: Mark W. Albers, General Joe Ashy, Mark Fischer, Dr. Joe R. Fowler, Elaine Mendoza, Travis Logan Smith Jr. and Dr. Jimmy Williams Jr.
Seven College of Engineering former students have been selected as recipients of the Distinguished Alumnus Award. From left are Mark W. Albers, General Joe Ashy, Mark Fischer, Dr. Joe R. Fowler, Elaine Mendoza, Travis Logan Smith Jr. and Dr. Jimmy Williams Jr. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

On Friday, Sept. 16, 12 Texas A&M University former students will be recognized as recipients of the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Presented jointly by the university and The Association of Former Students, this award is the highest honor bestowed upon a former student and has been awarded since 1962 to only 318 of Texas A&M’s more than 555,000 former students.

The College of Engineering is proud to claim seven of the honorees. They are:

  • Mark W. Albers ’79 — Petroleum engineering
  • General Joe Ashy ’62 — Mechanical engineering
  • Mark Fischer ’72 — Aerospace engineering
  • Dr. Joe R. Fowler ’68 — Mechanical engineering
  • Elaine Mendoza ’87 — Aerospace engineering
  • Travis Logan Smith Jr., class of 1898 — Civil engineering
  • Dr. Jimmy Williams Jr. ’83 — Mechanical engineering
Mark Albers headshot
Mark W. Albers ’79 | Image: Courtesy of The Association of Former Students

Albers was the senior vice president of ExxonMobil Corporation and retired after 38 years of service in development, operations, production and engineering. He is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and the Institution of Engineers Australia. He was awarded the Core Values Coin by The Association in 2018, the Rodney D. Chipp Memorial Award by the Society of Women Engineers in 2017 and the Texas A&M College of Engineering Outstanding Alumni Award in 2010. He has served on the board of trustees of the United States Council for International Business and is a trustee of Grace School of Theology. In addition, he is an assistant chair of the board of CEO forum; the board of advisors, Texas University Lands; and the MD Anderson Cancer Center board of visitors. At Texas A&M, he serves on the boards of The Association and the engineering advisory council. Albers and his wife Cindy have funded classroom improvements in the Zachry Engineering Education Complex, an endowed scholarship and an endowed fellowship.

Joe Ashy headshot
General Joe Ashy ’62 | Image: Courtesy of The Association of Former Students

Ashy is the founder, president and CEO of Ashy and Associates LLC, an aerospace consulting company. Prior to these positions, he served in the United States Air Force for 35 years as a four-star general, was the commander in chief of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Space Command and was the commander of Air Force Space Command. Among his many military decorations are the Silver Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Air Medal and the Distinguished Service Medal. He has also been honored with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Roy Wilkins Award in 2004, was one of the Texas A&M Department of Mechanical Engineering Academy of Distinguished Graduates in 2002, received the National Defense Industrial Association’s General James V. Hartinger Space Award in 1997 and was inducted into the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets Hall of Honor. Ashy continues his involvement and service as president of Texas A&M’s Sul Ross Group and through his appointment to the Independent Strategic Assessment Group as a mentor in the capstone and Pinnacle programs.

Mark Fischer headshot
Mark Fischer ’72 | Image: Courtesy of The Association of Former Students

Fischer is the CEO of Pointe Vista Development, a mixed-use community along Lake Texoma. Previously, he founded and was chairman and CEO of Chaparral Energy for 28 years. He chairs the boards of Dippin’ Dots, Skybridge Development, Doc Popcorn and Resource Oil and Gas. Fischer has been recognized for his success through the Texas A&M Foundation Sterling C. Evans Medal in 2021 and the College of Engineering Outstanding Alumni Award in 2014 and was named a national finalist for the 2012 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. He serves and sponsors several nonprofits, including the Boy Scouts of America, Habitat for Humanity and Big Brothers Big Sisters. He remains involved with Texas A&M, where he served on The Association’s board of directors from 2013-21, including his time as chair in 2019 and as a representative at large from 2020 to the present. He and his wife SuSu co-chaired Texas A&M’s Lead by Example Campaign and sponsored the Zachry Engineering Complex’s Fischer Engineering Design Center.

Joe Fowler headshot
Dr. Joe R. Fowler ’68 | Image: Courtesy of The Association of Former Students

Fowler, now retired, was co-founder and president of Stress Engineering Services, an engineering consulting firm based in Houston with offices across the United States and Canada. Under Fowler’s leadership, the company received multiple awards, including #1 Best Place to Work in Texas and #2 Best Place to Work in Ohio in 2010, and was also among the Best Places to Work in Houston and Best Places to Work in New Orleans in 2011 and 2012. Fowler was awarded the 2012 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and in both 2009 and 2005, he received the Aggie 100 Entrepreneur Award. He earned the American Society of Mechanical Engineers at the University of Houston Titanium Crawfish Award in 2004 and the Rhodes Oil Drop Industry Award in 2003. He has served in leadership positions with the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, College of Engineering advisory council at Texas A&M, Offshore Technology Conference and American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Fowler endowed the Fowler Distinguished Lecture Series with his brother Donald in the J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering and, together with his wife Linda, has established several scholarships across the department and the College of Engineering.

Elaine Mendoza headshot
Elaine Mendoza ’87 | Image: Courtesy of The Association of Former Students

Mendoza is the founder, president and CEO of Conceptual MindWorks Inc., a biotechnology and medical informatics company in San Antonio, Texas. She has previously been chairman of the Texas A&M Board of Regents and now chairs the Committee of Academic and Student Affairs. She has spearheaded many efforts to improve health care, education and economic growth both locally and nationally. Locally, she served on the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce board of directors and several committees to advance early education in the San Antonio area. She has served on the CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System and the Health Care Service Corporation director boards and as a member of the Academic Health Science Centers of Texas “Code Red” task force. Gov. Rick Perry appointed Mendoza to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Committee on Closing the Gaps, Commission for a College Ready Texas and Special Commission on 21st Century Colleges and Universities. Nationally, Sen. Trent Lott appointed her to the Commission on the Advancement of Women in Minorities in Science, Engineering and Technology. Mendoza was selected as the 2016 Texas A&M San Antonio Dream Maker and was inducted into the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame in 2016. In 2014, she earned the Women’s Legacy Award from the Aggie Women’s Association, and in 2013, she received the College of Engineering Outstanding Alumni Award.

Travis Logan Smith Jr. headshot
Travis Logan Smith Jr. | Image: Courtesy of The Association of Former Students

Smith was the founder of the Sul Ross Group and one of the original members of the Ross Volunteer Company. Entering Texas A&M when he was only 15 years old, he graduated at 17. He undertook many business and engineering ventures, including developing one of the first fixed radial engines for aircraft, which was used to convert airplanes for crop dusting and spraying. Smith engineered the plans and development for the major pumping and rice irrigation plants throughout the Rice Belt in the early decades of the 1900s. With community and generosity at the heart of his actions, he led a student housing construction project that employed mostly students and World War II veterans. He gave the deed to The Association, asking that proceeds from the sale of the property be used to establish scholarships. Smith personally established two Presidents’ Endowed Scholarships at Texas A&M.

Dr. Jimmy Williams headshot
Dr. Jimmy Williams Jr. ’83 | Image: Courtesy of The Association of Former Students

Williams is a distinguished service professor of engineering and public policy and the executive director of the Engineering and Technology Innovation Management Program at Carnegie Mellon University. He held influential positions at both Alcoa, Inc. and Pall Corporation, where he implemented systems and strategies that saved millions of dollars and brought additional revenue in the hundreds of millions. His development team at Alcoa earned the RoadStar Magazine Most Valuable Product Award in 2002. He also held several significant research, development and program management positions during his nearly 20-year career at Boeing, where he was given the Black Engineer of the Year award in 2001. Williams has served on the boards of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, Innovation Works, Tech-Solve, Inc. and the Washington University Alumni Association. Additionally, he is heavily involved with Texas A&M, where he co-chaired the university’s Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in 2020, became the first African American chair of the board of The Association in 2018 and was a recipient of the College of Engineering Outstanding Alumni Award in 2017.

These seven honorees have committed their lifetimes to uphold the Aggie core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service. They have made significant contributions to their fields as industry leaders and innovators and continue to shape the College of Engineering through their example to coming generations.