Jonsson School Prof Earns Honor as Titan of Tech

Four other Jonsson School finalists and one student honored

UT Dallas professor of electrical engineering Gil Lee was recently honored for his contributions to the community at the 15th Anniversary Tech Titans Awards Gala.

Lee received the Community Hero Award, which honors a technology company employee for outstanding achievements in community service to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Lee is president and founder of IntelliChoice Inc., a nonprofit organization that teaches mathematics skills to underprivileged North Texas children in kindergarten through 12th grade who lack educational opportunities and resources. IntelliChoice volunteers consist primarily of UT Dallas professors and students.

“We started with one center in 2005 and now we have six centers. Two more are on the way,” Lee said.“ The key to success with this program is in our tremendous volunteers – professors, engineers, lawyers, and college and high school students – we have 145 volunteers. This award goes to all the volunteers who make our program possible.”

At UT Dallas, Lee teaches classes and lab courses in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science on electronic devices and conducts research concerning device fabrication and material growth, among other areas.

At IntelliChoice, Lee teaches participants; recruits and supports volunteers; coordinates logistics of serving multiple learning center locations throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area; establishes new centers; and raises funds for student scholarships.

In 2014, IntelliChoice awarded $20,000 in scholarships to 40 children throughout the Dallas area.

Jonsson School faculty and students were honored in other ways through this year's Tech Titans competition and gala. The Tech Titans organization, formerly called the Metroplex Technology Business Council, is the largest technology trade association in Texas.

Community Hero Finalist

UT Dallas alumnus Steven Foland BS'08, MS'10, PhD'13 was also a finalist for the Community Hero Award. Foland, a senior lecturer in bioengineering at the Jonsson School, is founder of The Shoulders of Giants, a Dallas-based nonprofit dedicated to providing opportunities for technical professionals and science enthusiasts to collaborate on humanitarian projects and other philanthropic goals, and educational efforts.

Foland has said engineers “don't suffer from work fatigue. They love to tinker. It's great to focus that passion so that others can benefit from it. We're harnessing the energy of technical professionals to develop new ways of presenting complex topics in a meaningful way.”

Technology Inventors Finalist

Dr. Orlando Auciello, professor of materials science and engineering and holder of the Distinguished Chair in Engineering at UT Dallas, was a finalist for the Technology Inventors Award.


He led a team of scientists, students and postdocs conducting fundamental and applied research to develop, test and patent revolutionary ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD) thin films. UNCD coatings use the superlative properties of diamond – carbon-based, strong, durable and superior in conducting heat – to revolutionize the development of multifunctional devices for transformational technologies, including health care and industrial manufacturing.

Through two companies that Auciello co-founded (Advanced Diamond Technologies and Original Biomedical Implants), UNCD coatings are used in encapsulating a new generation of implantable microchips and long-life medical implants; mechanical pump seals/bearings; electrodes for transformational sensors; atomic force microscopy probes; and corrosion-resistant components in a new generation of longer-life lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) for multiple applications.

Tech Titan of the Future – University Level Finalist

Dr. Mario Rotea, who holds the Erik Jonsson Chair, received a nomination in the Tech Titans of the Future – University Level category for his work in encouraging students to choose engineering- and technology-related career paths.

“The undergraduate curriculum emphasizes flexibility and creativity through electives in advanced areas such as nanotechnology, micro electro-mechanical systems, and robotics,” Dr. Rotea said. “A two-semester senior design course provides students with an opportunity to work in teams on a corporate-sponsored project. Innovative projects are conducted with combined teams of mechanical, bio and electrical engineering students. Undergraduate students are encouraged to engage in the research of the faculty. Mechanical engineering faculty members are taking active roles in collaborating with the local community to encourage students to focus on careers in STEM fields.”


Emerging Company Innovation Finalist

Jonsson School alumnus John Olajide BSTE'04, was a finalist in the Emerging Company category. Olajide founded Axxess, a home health technology company rooted in consulting and software development.

Olajide has credited his education at UT Dallas with helping him uncover his entrepreneurial spirit and putting him on the path to creating Axxess.

“The experience and education I received from UT Dallas elevated my desire to make an impact through my professional career,” he told us in 2013. “I think I'm on my way to doing that.”

Tech Titans Scholarship

UT Dallas freshman Zachary Oldham received the Tech Titans’ $5,000 Florence Shapiro STEM Scholarship. Oldham, a graduate of Plano Senior High School, is studying engineering.

Oldham, who is an Eagle Scout and played percussion in his high school band, graduated with a 3.9 grade-point average and was an active member of the National Honor Society.