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Four distinguished alumni honorees for the AFS Gala
Four College of Engineering former students have been selected as recipients of the Distinguished Alumnus Award. From left are Albert G. Pfaff, Mike Havel, Michael J. Plank and Anthony J. Wood | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Texas A&M University will bestow 12 alumni with the highest honor a former student can receive — the Distinguished Alumnus Award on Friday, Oct. 6. This award will be presented in conjunction with The Association of Former Students. These former students are being recognized for their outstanding accomplishments and purposeful and significant contributions to the university and their communities.

This year, the College of Engineering is proud to have four honorees. They are:

  • Michael J. Plank, Class of 1983 – Mechanical engineering
  • Anthony J. Wood, Class of 1987 – Electrical engineering
  • Mike Havel, Class of 1976 – Industrial technology
  • Albert G. “Bert” Pfaff, Class of 1925 – Electrical engineering
Man posing for a photo up against a photo backdrop.
Michael J. Plank ’83 | Image: Image: Courtesy of The Association of Former Students

Plank is chairman and CEO of The Plank Companies, Inc., along with three affiliated companies — National Property Holdings, Rail Logix and Speed Shore Corporation. He graduated from Texas A&M in 1983 with a degree in mechanical engineering and was in Squadron 11 in the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets. The Department of Mechanical Engineering’s Academy of Distinguished Graduates inducted Plank into their academy in 2000. In 2019, he was appointed to The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents and received the College of Engineering’s Outstanding Alumni Award that same year. Appointed by the Governor of Texas, he is currently serving on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Governor’s University Research Initiative Board. He served as a past chairman and current member of the Young Presidents’ Organization, which promotes becoming better leaders and impacting people’s lives through business.

Man getting his headshot taken.
Anthony J. Wood ’87 | Image: Image: Courtesy of The Association of Former Students

Wood is the founder, chairman and CEO of Roku, Inc., a major streaming entertainment device provider. He grew up writing software in high school, which led to him getting the Opportunity Award Program scholarship to study electrical engineering. While at Texas A&M, Wood started his second company, SunRize Industries, which unfortunately negatively impacted his grades. He was faced with a decision to be kicked out of school or shut down his company, which led to the closure of SunRize Industries. He continues to give back to his hometown and gives grants that have crossed international borders through the WoodNext Foundation, a philanthropy he and his wife, Susan, manage. Through this foundation, he strives to achieve his goal of “advancing human progress and remove obstacles to a fulfilling life.” He remains involved at the university as a named donor of the new stage in Aggie Park that students and organizations use daily. He also incorporates Texas A&M’s culture in California, starting his meetings by greeting everyone with the famous “Howdy.” 

Man posing for a photo.
Mike Havel ’76 | Image: Image: Courtesy of The Association of Former Students

Havel is the former president, owner and founder of American Protectors Inc. and the current president and owner of Metro Custom Plastics Inc. These two companies have earned him eight Aggie 100 awards, an award honoring the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or led by Aggies. During his time at Texas A&M, he was a member of Company F-1. Then he was commissioned into the U.S. Army Reserves and now serves as a director of the Texas Aggie Corps of Cadets Association. During a board meeting with The Association of Former Students, he pitched the idea of having a giant Aggie ring for people to take pictures with, which is now a staple for future, present and former Aggie students. Havel has not only mentored and shaped students during his time at Texas A&M but continues to foster mentoring relationships with current students. He continues to give his efforts to our school, serving on many boards and volunteering whenever possible. Havel and his wife, Kathy, have a few scholarships tied to their name, one being the Kathy and Mike Havel ’76 Scholarship, dedicated to helping full-time students find their passion in engineering and hoping to find those who want to share their passions with others through teaching.

Distressed photo of a man's headshot
Albert G. “Bert” Pfaff ’25 | Image: Image: Courtesy of The Association of Former Students

Pfaff founded McCord-Lane Co., an East Texas oil company whose success would later impact Texas A&M football. When the football team struggled financially from the effects of the Great Depression, he helped secure a loan that would help bring the team to their latest national championship title in 1939. Because of his willingness and kind heart, Pfaff helped develop one of our most successful teams. Not only did this loan help finance scholarships to recruit the best student-athletes, but he continued his support of the field. When the student-athletes were in their offseason, he employed them in his oil fields. He served on The Association of Former Students’ Board of Directors for eight years. In 1940, he served as the chair of the Board of Directors for a one-year term.

These four honorees continuously show what it means to be an Aggie, and their impact on the College of Engineering, Texas A&M and their communities will forever be remembered and exemplified by those who learn from our honorees.