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July 2016

July 2016 

  Lending a Helping Hand… For Life!

Thanks to the kindness of our awesome, multi-talented IT Manager Gautam Taneja, a sweet little girl born without a hand is now getting one. The story begins with Dahlia, the 6-year-old great granddaughter of Dean’s Assistant Donna Shaw. “I’ve been looking for ways to get her a hand since she was born, and I never really knew if it would be possible,” Donna said. The cost of prosthetics – nearly $50,000 to start – has made it unattainable for Dahlia’s family to even pursue. Enter Gautam, our resident techie and a 3-D printing enthusiast who just happened to show Donna a Game of Thrones doorstop he had printed at UH’s COUGARBYTE. Donna, who knew about the 3-D printing of artificial limbs for growing children through her correspondence with Dr. Medhat El Nahas in UH’s Dept. of Engineering Technology, didn’t miss a beat. “Well, can you make my grandbaby a hand?” she asked. It was a fluke conversation that would connect the three for life. “Donna and I have been friends for a while, but I’d never heard about her granddaughter’s story,” he said. The more Gautam learned about Dahlia, the more he wanted to help. He got online and found e-NABLE, an organization dedicated to providing cheaper, more accessible ways to build prosthetic hands through the use of 3-D printing. After reading the forums and researching the best options for a child Dahlia’s age, Gautam downloaded free 3-D drawings from the site and sent them to COUGARBYTE. “It took 19 hours to print, about five hours for me to assemble, and it cost less than $100,” Gautam said. Emotions ran high when Gautam met Dahlia for the first time to see if the hand would fit. Donna calls Gautam her “miracle man.” Dahlia can now do the little things that other kids take for granted, like counting to 10 using all her fingers, picking up apples and getting a better grip on her scooter. And how does Dahlia feel about her new hand? With a huge smile, she summed it up in one word – “Happy!” Her prototype hand is being replaced with one made of softer materials. Her special request? A pink hand with purple fingers. High fives all around to this life-changing act of kindness! (Photo: Katie Guidroz)


  Students Spend Summer SURF-ing!

While many students are taking a break from academics this summer, Kristina Infante and Van My Luong have been busy digging deeper into the science and theories that affect the hospitality industry. The two are participating in the annual Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), a 10-week program supported by The Office of the Provost, Division of Research and The Honors College. Kristina (pictured left) is working with her faculty advisor Dr. Sujata Sirsat to examine bacteria found in leafy greens that can cause foodborne illnesses. She hopes her research will pave the way for better washing and packaging techniques that can reduce the amount of harmful bacteria found in produce. Van, who is working with her faculty advisor Dr. Priyanko Guchait, is studying the culture of error management and how it affects the health of hospitality employees. The results of Van’s research can provide insight on how to improve employee engagement and productivity. Kristina and Van will present details of their studies with a research poster during Undergraduate Research Day this October. What’s in store for Kristina and Van after SURF? Both plan to attend graduate school, armed with the skills they have learned this summer. According to Dr. Sirsat, SURF is an extremely competitive program with only the best and brightest chosen among hundreds of applicants. What an honor to have Kristina and Van represent the HC! (Photos: Pearl Cajoles) 


  Hilton College Extends Its Global Reach

Putting Hilton College on the map is always on the agenda for Dean Dennis Reynolds and Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies Ki-Joon Back. Both recently traveled to Asia, where they networked with deans, faculty, directors and other industry leaders from leading hospitality programs around the world. The first stop was Bangkok, where Dean Reynolds attended the 14th APacCHRIE Conference to give a talk titled “Crisis Management and Business Continuity in the Tourism Industry.” The Asia Pacific CHRIE (APacCHRIE) is a federation of ICHRIE, the largest global advocate of hospitality and tourism education. Dean Reynolds then flew to Hong Kong to meet Dr. Back for the 2nd Global Tourism & Hospitality Conference and 15th Asia Pacific Forum (held concurrently). There, Dean Reynolds shared his expert insight on a panel about the “Internationalization of Hospitality and Tourism Education: Global Perspectives,” and Dr. Back served as moderator for a panel about “Current Issues and Trends in Tourism and Hospitality Research.” Next, the two traveled to Seoul to explore further collaborations with Korean partners. “The highlight of the trip was our alumni dinner with members of the College’s Korean Alumni Association,” said Dean Reynolds. “While assembled for only a year, this chapter presented the College with a $1,000 check (pictured) for a scholarship!” In Seoul, Dr. Back also attended the Academy of Global Hospitality and Tourism Conference, where he served as a panelist for global hospitality education. He also visited Beijing to attend the Asia Pacific Tourism Association 2016 Conference as a regional representative. Back in the States, Dean Reynolds made a final stop in Chicago for the National Restaurant Association Show, where he attended numerous ICHRIE meetings. He also met with students and staff who he said represented Hilton College very well. “These trips have been invaluable, and have given the College and the University great exposure as we continue to expand our international presence,” Dean Reynolds said. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Ki-Joon Back)


  Summer Campers Get a Taste of Hospitality

After spending three days at Hilton College, 73 high school students got a glimpse of university life and a taste of what it might be like to have a career in hospitality. The College’s High School Summer Camp program, held each year in June, gives prospective Cougars experiential learning opportunities in both the classroom and by visiting a few of the area’s top hospitality venues. The camps also introduce students to some of the industry’s top executives, showing them firsthand the kinds of invaluable networking opportunities they’ll have as students here. This year, during tours and activities at their respective properties, campers spent time with Joe Bendy, general manager of River Oaks Country Club, and Paul Schultz, vice president of hospitality for Landry’s Inc., the parent company of The San Luis Resort in Galveston. “This year’s camps were probably our best ever,” said Danny Arocha, director of enrollment. “It’s huge when a camper can walk away with business cards from executives like Joe and Paul. It shows them that this College is really connected to the industry.” Campers also got a behind-the-scenes look at the College’s hotel kitchens and cooked a meal under the direction of Chef Mark Riley. They met with faculty and staff, and got the student perspective on life at Hilton College by getting to know the College Ambassadors, who served as camp counselors. Campers also visited TDECU Stadium and spent time at the University Center. The experience was especially valuable to Alexandra Martin (pictured right) and Dejean Carter. Both traveled from Louisiana to check out the College. “I’ve always wanted to help people, and I thought working in this industry would be a good way to do that,” said Alexandra, who plans to go into hotel management or event planning. Alexandra said the camp’s activities taught her about teamwork. Dejean, an aspiring chef, said winning the cooking challenge sponsored by The San Luis validated his skills in the kitchen. Perhaps the best part? Alexandra and Dejean, as well as many of their fellow campers, said their experience this summer definitely puts Hilton College at the top of their list! (Photo: Pearl Cajoles)