Software engineering minor offers skills that can be game changer in employers’ eyes

January 9th, 2020

In a job market filled with applicants with plenty of high-level technical skills, employers are looking for resumes that demonstrate “differentiators.” University of Houston-Clear Lake’s minor in software engineering can make the difference on a job application, says Adjunct Professor of Software Engineering Daniel Drew, who teaches many of the courses that encompass the minor.

“Computing science majors have already taken three of the six necessary courses for the minor,” Drew said. “But that program’s focus is primarily on building code. The software engineering minor is a great complement to a computing science major because it encompasses the entire process for building software systems. Students gain the full spectrum of skills.”

Drew said that whereas computing science specializes in using program languages, the minor covers what else goes into the system besides just writing the code. “The courses in the minor offer an introduction to the total discipline of building complex systems,” he said. “Students can learn how to bring concepts and ideas for complex software systems from the formation of initial requirements all the way through deployment.”

Business majors also stand to benefit from minoring in software engineering. “Part of software engineering is learning how to manage software projects,” he said. “For a business major who seeks a career in information technology, this affords them the opportunity to understand the business space better. When you become a project manager, you must understand the business domain to be effective. These courses offer a better understanding of information systems and data structures and how to utilize them in a business environment.”

One of the classes included in the minor, said Drew, is Project Management. “We teach students how to actually manage software projects,” he said. “We’ll offer hands-on experience building project plans with the class as it would be in the work environment.” This is why, he explained, business majors and computing science majors should strongly consider the software engineering minor. “Even for those working in the medical industry, this is useful,” he said. “There are a lot of people who transfer from the clinical side to the IT side. If you’re in an IT industry, you’ll be primed to understand it better than if you just had the business degree.”

The coursework includes two programming courses in C and Java, a course in data structures, an introduction to software engineering, an introduction to software process and project management, and software testing. “The project management and software testing courses are being developed for online as well as face-to-face,” he said. “I’m developing a new software testing course over this summer in which I will use examples of code that is ‘buggy’ to demonstrate various techniques to find the problems and fix the code.”

“The software engineering minor at UHCL is a rare offering among universities,” said Associate Professor and Chair of Software Engineering Sharon White.  “It allows students from many majors to expand job horizons to include positions that integrate software management, process and testing skills into the many IT and project management jobs surrounding most of today’s industries.” She added that the minor also offers students a pathway to continuing their studies in the Master of Software Engineering program. “This is a unique opportunity for students at UHCL.”

Soma Datta, assistant professor of software engineering and pre-engineering program chair, said computer science students with this minor would be able to better organize and apply their programming skills in developing software applications, and business students would be better able to communicate with their clients and technical personnel. “Students whose career plans are to become a project manager or an entrepreneur, the minor in software engineering will give you a leading edge,” she said.

“This is about learning teamwork,” Drew said. “Not everyone can be a project manager, but if you want to work in IT for a company like Apple or IBM, you need this. Very few universities in Texas offer this minor. People interested in this field have to search for this kind of education, but we have it here at UH-Clear Lake. For computing science or business students, this minor can make a big difference.” For more information about UHCL’s minor in software engineering, visit

UHCL Year in Review highlights university community accomplishments

January 6th, 2020

The University of Houston-Clear Lake has published online the 2018-19 Year in Review, which showcases accomplishments by students, faculty, staff and alumni.

“As we enter our 45th year as a university – founded for the purpose of training generations of scientists, engineers, managers and astronauts for NASA – we celebrate the partnerships and community friends who made us successful,” President Ira K. Blake says in introducing the report. “While we look back at the year with pride, the anniversary of our inception serves to remind us to always look forward with clarity and purpose.”

The online review accompanies a printed version that is being mailed to university partners and donors. In a new tradition, the annual report covers from fall 2018 to fall 2019, rather than the university’s fiscal year, which begins Sept.1.

The web version expands upon the printed report with video, interactive graphics and enhanced content. To view,

Hispanic Heritage, leadership skills on display at Stewart Elementary

October 30th, 2019

Students perform a traditional Salvadoran dance during Hispanic Heritage and Leadership Night at Stewart Elementary.

Colorful decorations made from tissue paper lined the walls and scores of papel picado hung from the ceiling as parents, children and staff made their way to the cafeteria to celebrate Hispanic Heritage and participate in Leadership Night afterwards at Stewart Elementary on Tuesday, Oct. 22.

New Principal Melissa Sanchez welcomed the oversized crowd, many of whom were standing, before recognizing the parents, teachers and volunteers who had helped to make the evening possible.

Then, students from Pre-K through 5th grade enthusiastically performed traditional dances to music from a number of Latin countries including Mexico, El Salvador, Venezuela and Cuba. For the grand finale, members of the Ball High School Dance y Ballet Folklórico based in Galveston stomped and twirled to a final Jarabe Tapatío, or Mexican folk dance. According to former Stewart Elementary Principal Dr. Britani Moses, the celebration has been around for over 20 years though it has grown in different ways over time.

“Originally, it started as Ballet Folklórico to honor the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo,” she said. “Then as the years went on and more people from different countries started moving here, we decided to expand the celebration to include their traditions as well.”

Eventually, it also made more sense to have the event during or close to Hispanic Heritage Month since it had grown larger and was more inclusive of other Latin American countries. “The spring was always so busy anyway that we really wanted to have more time to do it well,” Dr. Moses said.

It is so popular that kids must now apply for a lottery in order to be chosen to participate.


Fourth grader Valencia Valdois performed in the Venezuelan dance this year, making it her third time overall to be included. “I like it because I get to make new friends,” she said. Others appreciate the opportunity to dress up and put on a show. “My favorite part was to see a lot of people looking at us,” said kindergartner Perla Colón. “There’s lots of different songs too.” But the children aren’t the only ones who want to be involved.

“About three years ago, the parents really stepped up and took it upon themselves to teach the children the songs and how to dance to them,” Dr. Moses said. Starting in September, the children practice twice a week to prepare for the October performance.

While it is the second year the Hispanic Heritage event was held in the fall, it was held in conjunction with Leadership Night for the first time.


The Leader In Me program, grounded in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is a school-wide transformation that develops the next generation of leaders with its focus on culture, academics and leadership. Stewart implemented the program for the first time earlier this school year.

Students and their parents could visit various rooms throughout the school and learn about different topics while also engaging in hands-on activities, which incorporated concepts like math, literacy, science and character. In the gym and cafeteria, multiple tables were set up by grade level and projects ranged from making name rockets and volcanoes to writing get well cards to be given out at a local pharmacy and painting kindness rocks. In the auditorium, students had a chance to win a free book during a “book” walk in the auditorium and books were available for purchase during the book fair in the library. There was also a petting zoo made possible by the Living Materials Center.

The Leader in Me program at Stewart is made possible through the financial support of the City of Kemah with additional support from the City of Clear Lake Shores.

Clear Creek ISD announces 2019 Teachers of the Year

July 2nd, 2019

Clear Creek ISD Superintendent Dr. Greg Smith congratulates 2019 Secondary Teacher of the Year Alaina Garza, left, of Clear Brook High and 2019 Elementary Teacher of the Year Lyzette Ruiz of Ed White Elementary during the luncheon at South Shore Harbour Resort.

The Rotary Clubs of Space Center, Seabrook and League City honored Clear Creek ISD’s 44 campus teachers of the year and announced the 2019 Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year at a luncheon at South Shore Harbour Resort May 20.

Lyzette Ruiz of Ed White Elementary was chosen 2019 CCISD Elementary Teacher of the Year. The kindergarten teacher has become a leader on her campus by supporting campus and district initiatives to build stronger literacy foundations and improve personalized learning strategies.

As she explained in her Teacher of the Year application, “I have a strong desire to empower students to take ownership of their own learning and give them the opportunity to rejoice in their capabilities.”

Clear Brook High School science teacher, Alaina Garza, is the 2019 CCISD Secondary Teacher of the Year. A 12-year CCISD teacher, Garza works to cultivate a passion for science through a variety of techniques for different learning styles.

Outside the classroom, she is dedicated to promoting self-advocacy in all her students by supporting student-centered platforms such as TEDxClearBrookHighSchool and Safe School Ambassadors. “By asking questions, students will generate their own ideas,” she said. “As educators, we must create platforms for them to express and exchange these ideas.”
“Thank you to the Rotary Clubs of Space Center, Seabrook and League City for their ongoing support of our outstanding teachers in Clear Creek ISD,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Greg Smith said. “Together with our Rotary Clubs, we are proud to applaud these special educators for inspiring their school communities.”

In addition to the award winners, Clear Creek ISD also congratulated the other four 2019 finalists: Ashley Hosek, Bauerschlag Elementary 1st grade teacher; Angela Sanders, Greene Elementary 3rd grade teacher; Kelly Boultinghouse, League City Intermediate science teacher; and Laura Dunham, Clear Lake High School Family and Consumer Science teacher.

Ruiz and Garza will now advance to the regional and then possibly state selection process for Texas Teacher of the Year. In addition to $1,500 from the Rotary Clubs of League City, Seabrook and Space Center, the Elementary and Secondary Teacher of the Year will each receive a custom commemorative ring from Balfour. Finalists received $750 each.
A total of 44 teachers were selected to represent their respective campus in the community’s search for the District’s Elementary School Teacher of the Year and the Secondary Education Teacher of the Year. They also were recognized at the luncheon.

Beyond educating students, the following teachers have also been identified as a leader on their campus, working collaboratively with co-workers to improve the school culture. The CCISD 2019 Teachers of the Year are:

Armand Bayou Elementary
Jenifer Gilmore
Bauerschlag Elementary
Ashley Hosek
Bay Elementary
Micaela Cowan
Brookwood Elementary
Kathryn Grindstaff
Clear Lake City Elementary
Natalie Szczypien
Falcon Pass Elementary
Caitlin Turner
Ferguson Elementary
Rebecca Nations
Gilmore Elementary
Jason Gardner
Goforth Elementary
Julia Simon
Greene Elementary
Angela Sanders
Hall Elementary
Heather Weger
Hyde Elementary
Allison Etzel
Landolt Elementary
Rachel Willard
League City Elementary
Janice Green
McWhirter Elementary
Lucero Munoz Raba
Mossman Elementary
Josephine Burke
North Pointe Elementary
Melody Tanigawa
Parr Elementary
Christie Morgan
Robinson Elementary
Rhonda Koenig
Ross Elementary
Alexandra Adams
Stewart Elementary
Erika Greer
Ward Elementary
Krysta Walthall
Weber Elementary
Bao Khanh Truong
Wedgewood Elementary
Cal Hitchman
Whitcomb Elementary
Melissa Hedrick
White Elementary
Lyzette Ruiz

Bayside Intermediate
Tiffany Levesque
Brookside Intermediate
Emily Soderdahl
Clear Creek Intermediate
Gilberto Bonet
Clear Lake Intermediate
Terri Nicolosi
Creekside Intermediate
Amy Watkins
League City Intermediate
Kelly Boultinghouse
Seabrook Intermediate
Katharine Moore
Space Center Intermediate
Crystal Delaney
Victory Lakes Intermediate
Veronica Quiballo
Westbrook Intermediate
Danielle Muesse-Caples
Clear Brook High School
Alaina Garza
Clear Creek High School
Elizabeth Radicioni
Clear Falls High School
Hany Rezk
Clear Horizons High School
Carmen Hampton
Clear Lake High School
Laura Dunham
Clear Path High School
Rafael Sepulveda
Clear Springs High School
Melody Hermes
Clear View High School
Ann Sebastian

San Jacinto College again in top 10 community colleges

May 1st, 2019

By Amanda Fenwick

The Aspen Institute for Community College Excellence has named San Jacinto College as one of the top 10 community colleges in the nation. The announcement was made at a luncheon in Washington, D.C.

“I am honored and humbled to accept this award on behalf of the entire San Jacinto College community,” said Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer. “This award reflects the achievements and commitment of our faculty, staff, and administration who are focused on helping our diverse student population pursue and accomplish their goals. As a college, we hold ourselves to the ultimate measure of student success, and being recognized as one of the top 10 community colleges in the nation is proof that our mission to provide innovative, accessible education is being accomplished.”

Launched in 2011, the $1 million Aspen Prize is awarded every two years to a community college achieving high marks in student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings for graduates, and access and success for minority and low-income students. From the more than 1,100 community colleges nationwide, San Jacinto College was first selected among the top 150 last spring. A selection committee then narrowed down those institutions to the top 10, and today named two Aspen Prize winners and three Rising Star recipients. San Jacinto College was a Rising Star Award recipient in 2017, placing the College among the nation’s top 5 community colleges.

“San Jacinto College offers strong workforce programs that are directly aligned to employer needs and job opportunities in the region—especially in health care, maritime, and petrochemical industries,” said Joshua Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. “The college has also made significant investments in guided pathways reforms, ensuring that students receive strong, consistent advising to help them stay on track to completion.»

Over the last 10 years, San Jacinto College has increased the number of certificates and associate degrees awarded by 169 percent. Last academic year, 7,019 students earned a certificate or degree from San Jacinto College. This increase is due to a laser focus on student success and the support students receive along their paths from when they first arrive at San Jacinto College through graduation. The college concentrates its efforts on initiatives that show results in student achievement and progress.

2019 Aspen Prize Winners
Indian River State College (Fort Pierce, FL)
Miami Dade College (Miami, FL)

Rising Star Award
Odessa College (Odessa, TX)
Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom (Lakewood, WA)
Alamo Colleges District – Palo Alto College (San Antonio, TX)

Broward College (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
CUNY Kingsborough Community College (Brooklyn, NY)
Mitchell Technical Institute (Mitchell, SD)
Pasadena City College (Pasadena, CA)
San Jacinto College (Pasadena, TX)

COM to dedicate Student Center for Trustee Bennie Matthews

September 26th, 2018

Trustee Bennie Matthews is pleasantly surprised on hearing of the College of the Mainland honor.

The College of the Mainland Board of Trustees plans to dedicate the first floor of the renovated Student Center on campus after long-time trustee Bennie Matthews.

Board Chairman Kyle Dickson made the announcement during the monthly board meeting on Monday in Texas City. While not voting on the issue, Dickson said the measure – which is expected to be unanimously approved – would be on the Oct. 22 meeting agenda.

The first floor of the two-story building that overlooks the lake on campus will be known as the Bennie Matthews Commons. Matthews, who has served on the COM Board of Trustees since first elected in 1983, was surprised by the announcement and was greeted by family and friends. During her tenure on the COM board, she has served as chairman, vice chairman, secretary and currently heads up the human resources committee.

A graduate of Samuel Huston College, now called Huston-Tillotson College in Austin, Matthews studied science and mathematics. She became a member of the local branch of the NAACP where she was a charter member and first secretary of the Texas Youth Division. She graduated with honors and began a long and rewarding journey as an educator and community worker.

As a National Science Foundation awardee and Shell Merit Fellow, she studied at New Mexico Highlands and Stanford University. She received a Master of Science in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics. She also took advanced math and science courses at Lake Forest College, The University of Texas and Northern Illinois University as a National Science awardee.

Matthews taught school for 42 years in La Grange and La Marque, Texas. Her assignments in La Grange included teaching algebra, geometry, physical science and physics plus band, tennis, and girls’ basketball. In La Marque, Matthews taught mathematics and computer science at the former Lincoln High School and then La Marque High School.

When Matthews first ran for the COM board, she stressed that she wanted College of the Mainland to be a leader in education. “I think we all can agree that COM is a leader in education and the college owes much of that to Mrs. Matthews’ leadership,” Dickson said. “As such, as chairman of this board, I recommend, and I am sure my fellow board members will concur, that it is appropriate to recognize Trustee Bennie Matthews by naming the first floor of the newly renovated Student Center as the “Bennie Matthews Commons.” The student center currently is being renovated and is expected to be completed by year’s end. The dedication in honor of Matthews will take place in early 2019.

Bay Area Houston Magazine