SITES Award Employee Recognition SITES Awards Home Page

2017 SITES Awards Winners

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Sipriana Arellano (“Ben”)

Project Manager, Project Management & Construction Services


In 2010, Ben transformed the University Events schedule for Commencement. Since then, he has continued to develop his event planning and significantly expanded his shared files, using UT Box as the platform and enabling all event production team members to benefit from his database. Now, University Events and the contracted production teams are all invited to UT Box for their Explore UT, UT Remembers, Commencement, and Gone to Texas information. University Events and others can add to the Box file, and Ben updates his master production schedule with their information. The 2017 Texas Tribune Festival especially benefitted from his efforts, as he skillfully assembled input from Texas Tribune and South by Southwest for this three-day event. Ben has simplified event communications and enhanced collaboration and teamwork while carrying out his primary job of planning and executing campus renovations with PMCS shops.

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Ana Castillo

Sr. Administrative Associate, Utilities & Energy Management


The 2017 UT System Facilities Conference took place at UT Austin this year, and Ana was assigned to coordinate this annual statewide networking event for UT System’s academic and health institutions. She coordinated the entire event in less than three months for over 45 participants from 14 institutions, enabling department heads, project managers, engineers and administrative professionals to come together to discuss issues related to facilities and construction. Ana solicited topics and created the agenda and registration; secured hotel rooms and payment methods; coordinated meals, rooms and transportation; suggested the use of headsets for tours to ensure a great tour experience; arranged all event communications and created event materials; oversaw a team to assist with activities; and processed forms and invoices. She delivered an exceptional experience for participants on behalf of UT Austin.

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Mark Engelman

Supervisor, Facilities Services


Mark has improved on the Surplus Property program through innovative tactics and outreach to new customers. For 40 years, the method of disposal had been sales through live auctions. These worked well for some items, but not for the greatest volume of surplus: furniture. Once the decision was made to try online sales, Mark dedicated time and effort to ensuring success. As a result, revenue has grown and the customer base has expanded ten-fold. He works with student interns to find alternative methods for promoting items, a learning experience for the students. When Surplus Properties had an opportunity to market a significant number of items from Athletics, Mark worked diligently to achieve the highest possible sales prices. Although Athletics expected only about $200 from the sale, through Mark’s hard work $22,000 was garnered for the Athletics Sustainability Program.

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Matthew Frymire

Carpenter, Project Management & Construction Services


In summer 2017, Matthew was tasked with reinforcing a log cabin at the Winedale Historic Complex. Over time the cabin had fallen into disrepair. After a collaborative meeting with project managers, engineers and PMCS management in which he listened to and validated all the parties’ concerns, Matthew formulated a plan for saving this historic structure. Due to his service, integrity, teamwork, knowledge of construction, and leadership, his plan was used after review by several structural engineers and project managers. Although the work was expected to take two days, he executed it in a single day, keeping in mind stewardship of time and funds. By caring enough to ensure that the cabin did not deteriorate further, Matthew did his part to guarantee future generations of Texans have this treasure to experience.

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Felicia Garcia-Hildenbrand

Strategic Program Coordinator, Project Management & Construction Services


Unafraid of learning new things, Felicia takes on unfamiliar tasks and finds solutions. When the Contracting unit was shorthanded and under interim leadership, a lot of work was needed to prepare for a large solicitation for professional services. PMCS was undertaking an electronic submission of qualifications for the first time. Having worked briefly in Contracting, Felicia volunteered to assist. Quickly, she developed an email to send to prospective professional service providers (PSPs), documented the submission process for the PSPs in PMCS’ new Sharepoint system, and created the presentation that was delivered at each of the four pre-proposal conference sessions. Through her teamwork and service, Felicia put the Contracting team at ease by putting together excellent tools to aid with the solicitation.

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Alejandro Hernandez (“Alex”)

Buyer III, Business & Financial Services


When Project Management & Construction Services had an emergency on campus for which they needed to purchase a specific drill set that drills in complicated angles, they found the cost was over their procard limit. They reached out to Central Stores and Alex stepped in for the designated buyer, who was out that day. He listened carefully as the need was explained and quickly came up with an action plan that used a vendor who had the items in stock at a good price. The PMCS client said, “Not only did Alex save us time and money, he gave our team a sense of reassurance that this would be taken care of . . . . We are so glad to have Alex as one of our buyers we can go to when we need something.” As another example of Alex’ kindness and supportiveness, when a PMCS Construction crew installed screws to help him hang frames in his office, the next morning he delivered fresh donuts to the crew to say thank you.

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Aziz Hussaini

Manager of Facilities Engineering Services, Project Management & Construction Services


On March 1, 2017, the university discovered a leak at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center and closed the pool. PMCS was brought in to coordinate an effort to determine the cause of the leak and develop a solution. Aziz led the investigation and pool repair. He assembled and led a team of UT Austin stakeholders, leak detection companies, engineering consultants and contractors. He also kept other stakeholders informed, which, among other benefits, helped in responding to media. Once the cause of the leak was determined, Aziz championed an option to address it, for which he was able to gain support of the swimming coaching staff. This option saved UT Austin hundreds of thousands of dollars and time. Throughout, Aziz coordinated with Environmental Health and Safety to assure compliance with environmental commitments related to Waller Creek, the outfall for the pool sump system. On May 3, the pool successfully reopened.

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Amanda Moore

Accountant I, Business & Financial Services


Amanda was hired as an entry level Accounting Technician in 2016. Her subsequent promotion to Accountant I was due to her performance in the short time she was with BFS. From the beginning, she contributed to improving work processes. During her probationary period, she revised the invoice tracking log to create formulas and codes to make data entry easier, enabling BFS to gather metrics from the log information for the first time. As BFS took on more customer departments, Amanda was selected to be a point of contact for several departments. One of her customer departments stated that “Amanda has tremendous knowledge of the UT accounting system and takes careful time to educate me when I have questions. Her level of customer service has exceeded my expectations!”

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David Neagley (“Tollan”)

Crew Leader, Project Management & Construction Services


Tollan strives to achieve his clients’ vision. On rare occasions when a project does not meet a client’s expectations, he works tirelessly to make it right. He collaborates with other shops and assists in any way he can. For example, he took the initiative to catalog and organize all of the Commencement signage, saving hours of installation time. He voluntarily serves PMCS and the employee recognition programs by taking professional quality photos at events and ceremonies. Within the Sign Shop, Tollan brought 3D capabilities into the shop’s array of services, keeping more work in-house. He took the initiative to develop ADA signage, which also keeps work in-house and reduces costs. In addition, he promoted purchase of a laser system that allows him to design and engrave commemorative plaques used on benches, frames and award boxes that make their recipients feel truly honored.

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Michael Phalan, Cabinetmaker, Project Management & Construction Services

Carpenter, Project Management and Construction Services


The Peregrine falcon that lives on top of the UT Tower has captivated the campus community since her arrival. The fact that she is still there is in part due to the careful construction and installation of a nest-box. Michael jumped at the opportunity to do the work. He spent hours talking with experts and researching designs as well as optimal location in order to construct the most inviting box possible. After he constructed the box, he was part of the team that installed it on top of the Tower. Michael recently installed indoor/outdoor carpeting in hopes that, should there be chicks one day, the carpeting would help them maintain their footing when close to the edge. The excellent research and carpentry skills which Michael brought to bear on this project continue to be key to its success.

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Patti Soskins, Manager, Facilities Services

Supervisor, Business and Financial Services


When the idea was forming to charge for certain services performed by Facilities Services (FS), Patti demonstrated teamwork, excellence and service. First, she created a document to represent the current state and tasks required to get to the future state. She analyzed each affected crew and worked closely with TRecs to design the new model in FAMIS in a tight timeframe. Patti also worked with each FS assistant/associate director to ensure understanding of the new rate structure and how FS would charge. Additionally, she worked collaboratively on issues such as aligning new Dell Medical School crews with new account numbers. Patti worked with TRecs to test the billing and make it ready. She worked many long days to tackle this project, and she approached it with care, accuracy and efficiency to ensure that all possible conditions that could occur were identified and addressed.

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Nick Thompson, Project Manager, Project Management & Construction Services

Supervisor, Business and Financial Services


Nick was assigned as project manager for a fire alarm project in Sutton Hall. Being done in one of UT Austin’s older buildings, the project had many construction challenges, including a tight schedule and a poor performing contractor. After some contractor mishaps, Nick implemented a new protocol for daily work completion check out and required a new superintendent for the overnight shift. When the contractor’s manager quit, Nick coordinated with the contractor’s regional operations manager to ensure project management continued while a new manager was assigned. When the decision was made to tighten the schedule to complete the project before start of the fall semester, Nick worked days, nights and weekends to ensure contractors met the new schedule. Due to his dedication and focus on service, the project finished on time and the clients expressed their satisfaction with the end result.

Team Award – Team #1


The Utilities and Energy Management Mechanical Distribution team is responsible for the repair and maintenance of the water and wastewater utilities for all the UT campuses located in Austin. This team works hard and collaboratively to serve its customers. An example that stands out is when the crew was near end of shift and they were called out to a water main break on 24th Street. The team worked diligently all night to repair the 8-inch water line, in water up to their knees. By morning, the line was repaired with no service interruption. Some crew members caught about two hours of sleep before starting their shift, while others stayed at the shop to ensure they were on time for work.

Team members: Thomas Parker, Dwight Moore, Larry Belding, Stephen Blackburn, Danny Braun, Alfredo Campa, Coy Deviney, Brandon Johnson, William Laubach, Michael Tischendorf, Luis Lemus, Gabriel Lopez, James Michalke, John Moore, Lucy Moreno, Timothy Rich, Andy Russell, and Stanley Krause

Team Award – Team #2


In 2017, the Utilities and Energy Management Power Plant Maintenance Operations group worked on the overhaul of Gas Turbine 8 (GT8), one of six turbines that provide power to the UT Austin campus. Although the group provides annual turbine maintenance, the major overhaul of GT8 created tough obstacles. Thorough examination of GT8 required dismantling, cleaning, inspecting, repairing and replacing parts as needed, reassembling and testing the turbine components. The group determined that the rotor needed replacement, so they properly installed a refurbished one. Although project planning for the rotor replacement started 18 months in advance, the actual disassembly of GT8 began in March 2017, with startup in June. All work was done in-house. While GT8 was down, the power plant successfully operated the other gas turbines without service interruption.

Team members: Stanley Krause, James Minton, David Arocha, Mauricio Callejas, Shivaj Chirayil Appukattan, Mike Groneck, Sr., Mikey Groneck, Jr., Mark Harris, Billy Headrick, Stephen Huddleston, Ryan Hudson, James Jackson, Tommy Johnson, Garry Jones, Eric Keefer, Monte Long, Tinh Pham, Chad Richter, Martin Ruiz, Terry Todd, Jeff Ulrich