UH-Fluor Industrial Conference - University of Houston
Skip to main content

Friday, October 12 · 9:00 AM — 4:00 PM
Ballroom, Student Center South · University of Houston


UH and Fluor

Fluor and UH are proud to host the UH-Fluor Industrial Conference.

Over the past 27 years, Fluor has worked with UH's College of Technology and Cullen College of Engineering to advance the engineering and construction industry, and prepare the next generation for success.

Through our Industrial Construction Management Education Partnership, externships, sponsorships, outreach events and classroom instruction, the Fluor-UH relationship demonstrates the value of strong industry and university ties to develop solutions to real-world construction challenges. Both Fluor and UH are investing in the future, developing top construction minds and embracing innovative ideas that lead to successful projects.

This conference will bring together students from across UH's colleges for exciting collaboration and real-world insights on construction-driven execution from leaders in our fields, just as our projects bring together employees from across Fluor's global offices.

We look forward to seeing you at the conference!

Register for the Conference

Once you've registered for the conference, you are eligible to enter the Design Challenge.
See details below.


Conference Agenda

Time Activity Speaker
9:30 AM Conference Opens  
10:00 AM Announcements Aishwarya Mantha
10:05 AM Welcome Dr. Joseph Tedesco
10:10 AM Opening Remarks Dr. Anthony Ambler
10:20 AM Keynote Address Tricia Thibodeaux
10:50 AM Break  
Morning Session · 11:00 AM—12:45 PM
11:00 AM A Job Well Begun Is Half Done: AWP Silvana Lara
11:15 AM Engineering & Construction: A Love-Hate Relationship Collin Tsui
11:30 AM Smart Engineering: Constructability and Innovation Using CDE John McAnulty
11:45 AM Data-centric Execution and Standardization Nagu Vangury
12:00 NOON Design Challenge Introduction David Vogel
12:05 PM Design Challenge Student Presentations  
12:30 PM Design Challenge Awards Jack Penley
12:45 PM Lunch and Networking Dr. Dan Wells
Afternoon Session · 1:45—4:00 PM
1:45 PM Getting the Right Materials at the Right Place and at the Right Time? K. C. Rounsaville
2:00 PM To Modularize or Not to Modularize? Preston Wendel
2:15 PM Transportation and Logistics of Modules Deanna Lutz
2:30 PM Digitizing Construction through Automation and Tools Max Eklund
2:45 PM Keep the Site in Sight Mariel Molina
3:00 PM The Big Picture of EPFC: What Is the Future? Todd Novak
3:15 PM Closing Remarks Dr. Anthony Ambler


Speaker Information

Tricia Thibodeaux, Keynote Speaker

Keynote Speaker: Tricia Thibodeaux

Tricia Thibodeaux is the Global Director of Construction-Driven Execution, responsible for developing the Construction-Driven Execution model, communication and roll-out plan across all business lines for Fluor Corporation. She drives the three pillars of Construction-Driven Execution: people, planning and delivery of construction projects.

Prior to this role, Thibodeaux was the Houston Office Manager of Projects for Fluor, responsible for managing the project management group and for project execution excellence in the office. She was previously the Global Director of Supplier Quality and Material Planning responsible for driving commercial strategy for Supplier Quality Surveillance (SQS) and Material Planning across all business lines for the company. Prior to the global role, Thibodeaux was a Project Manager for the Energy and Chemicals Business Group, leading EPC domestic and international projects in Downstream, Upstream and Chemicals Business Lines.

Thibodeaux has held diverse positions at construction sites and execution centers during her 24 year career with Fluor. These positions have included project management, project engineering, engineering management, project controls, strategic sourcing and mechanical engineering.

Thibodeaux graduated from Louisiana State University with a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering. Active in a number of professional and business organizations, she is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, and the Project Management Institute. She is past-chair of Louisiana State University’s College of Engineering Diversity Advisory Board and a member of the Construction Industry Institute (CII) Board of Advisors and Funded Studies Committee. She holds Professional Engineer (PE) licenses in Texas and Louisiana, and has achieved Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. She and her husband reside in Sugar Land, Texas with their two sons.

Silvana Lara

Silvana Lara A Job Well Begun Is Half Done: AWP

Silvana Lara's Professional Engineer (P. Eng) experience of more than 23 years working in different areas of project management and execution within the oil & gas industry in North & South America allows her to play a key role in the Fluor's Construction Management Team. Lara's experience includes Advanced Work Packaging (AWP) implementation, constructability support in the engineering design office, procurement and supply management, module fabrication and installation coordination, construction site workface planning as well as wide experience in quality assurance.

John McAnulty

John McAnulty Smart Engineering: Constructability and Innovation Using CDE

John McAnulty is a registered Professional Engineer (PE) with more than 20 years' experience with oil and gas facilities, modularization and offshore platforms. McAnulty has more than 10 years' combined experience as a field engineer or international assignments in various Fluor offices and fabrication yards. He received both his bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering and master's degree in Civil Engineering from Texas Tech University prior to joining Fluor in 1998.

K. C. Rounsaville

K. C. Rounsaville Getting the Right Materials at the Right Place and at the Right Time?

K.C. Rounsaville is the Construction Manager for the Marathon STAR project and is currently responsible for all constructability and pre-construction activities for the project. The Marathon STAR project is a major revamp of several units in Marathon's Galveston Bay Refinery in Texas City, TX and is currently in the detailed design and procurement phase with effective construction planned to start in mid 2019. Rounsaville has more than 14 years' Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) project experience in pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, liquefied natural gas (LNG), downstream refining and disaster response projects. He has completed field assignments in California, Texas, Maryland, Alabama and Louisiana and has worked in Fluor's offices in California and Texas.

Deanna Lutz

Deanna Lutz Transportation and Logistics of Modules

Deanna Lutz is the Director of Commercial Strategies for Fabrication and Modularization. Leveraging her Supply Chain expertise with Fabrication and Construction experience, Lutz is responsible for developing fabrication and modularization strategies for projects across all business lines for the company.

She has served in diverse cross-functional roles during her 20-year career with Fluor. These positions have included process engineering, estimating, construction, project management, business development, and have been with the Supply Chain organization since 2010.

Lutz graduated from Texas Tech University with a with a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering. She is a registered Professional Engineer (PE) in the state of Texas. She and her husband reside in Houston, Texas with their daughter and son.

Mariel Molina

Mariel Molina Keep the Site in Sight

Mariel Molina is a Construction and Fabrication (C&F) Construction Coordinator. In this role, she is responsible for supporting Jack Penley, Senior VP C&F, on global C&F initiatives and general support.

Molina has advanced expertise in project execution planning, construction execution planning and permitting, constructability analysis, construction estimating and civil engineering. She has been involved in the execution and front-end development planning of several multi-billion-dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities worldwide, including Australia, Peru and Mozambique. She is currently leading Construction and Fabrication digital transformation efforts from the Houston office for Fluor.

Prior to joining Fluor, Molina worked for McDermott and AECOM where she was responsible for construction management and field engineering for petrochemical and LNG facilities along with highway jobs.

She is a graduate of the University of Houston with a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering.

Collin Tsui

Collin Tsui Engineering and Construction: A Love-Hate Relationship

Collin Tsui is the Manager of Performance Solutions in Fluor's Construction and Fabrication group. In this role, he measures and improves craft workforce time on tools, looking at construction planning, site setup, and work processes to improve productivity. Tsui's industry experience includes project engineering, sales, innovation initiatives, field engineering, and mechanical engineering. He is a Professional Engineer (P. Eng) in the province of Alberta, Canada, with a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Calgary.

David Vogel

David Vogel Design Challenge Introduction

David Vogel manages the Houston Pipeline Department that consists of onshore and offshore pipeline subject matter experts. Vogel is also the global technical representative for pipeline that leads the discipline in the development of technology, processes and procedures. He has worked in the pipeline industry for 20 years and has been a part of the design for over 10,000 miles of pipeline that is currently installed.

Preston Wendel

Preston Wendel To Modularize or Not to Modularize?

Preston Wendel is the Global Director of Fabrication for Fluor. He has 15 years' experience in the industrial construction industry, and has worked for the top three Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) firms in planning and execution of liquefied natural gas (LNG), refinery, and fossil power megaprojects. Wendel received his bachelor's degree in Construction Science from Texas A&M, and holds a master's degree in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship from University of Houston-Victoria.

Max Eklund

Max Eklund Digitizing Construction through Automation and Tools

Max Eklund is a Fluor Fellow and Fluor's Global Construction Automation Integration Manager.

Eklund has spent most of his Fluor career working on construction sites – starting in 1998 as a site IT specialist. In 2006, he moved into a construction automation lead role on refinery projects in Ohio and Michigan. He then served as the Central, Western and South America regional Construction Automation Manager supporting the setup and implementation of the construction automation tools on multiple projects, before assuming his current role as Global Construction Innovation and Visualization Lead. Eklund is constantly challenging the status quo in the areas of automation and site IT to support project execution.

In addition to his passion to promote the effective setup, implementation and benefits of Fluor's suite of construction automation and services, he is a subject matter expert (SME) on visual communications.

Eklund is honored to be a Fluor Fellow and is committed to strengthening Fluor's position as a leading innovator in the Engineering, Procurement, Fabrication and Construction (EPFC) industry.

Todd Novak

Todd Novak The Big Picture of EPFC: What Is the Future?

Todd Novak has more than 20 years' service with Fluor. He is currently the Regional Construction Director for Central and Western US. Todd is a graduate from Texas Tech University with a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering and obtained his master's in Business Administration (MBA) in International Management from Houston Baptist University after starting his career with Fluor. Novak started his career as a process engineer and has held various positions in home office and field execution.

Aishwarya Mantha

Dr. Aishwarya ManthaChair, UH-Fluor Industrial Conference

Dr. Aishwarya Mantha is the Global Construction and Fabrication (C&F) coordinator and C&F Knowledge Manager. Previous experiences include being the Project Engineer on the SASOL LCCP and Northwest Redwater Project, and as a Flow Assurance Engineer working on multiple projects.

Dr. Mantha has more than five years' experience in project management, engineering, procurement and construction, with emphasis on managing key sub-contracts and with material management component of the projects. She aspires to be proficient in the area of Construction and Supply Chain, specifically, Material Management in order to positively impact and support Fluor's strategy of Modularization, Fabrication and Construction-driven execution.

Dr. Mantha has held several leadership roles in various company initiatives such as the Emerging Leaders Group, Employee Giving Campaign, GROW, etc. She graduated with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from University of Houston. Her research work was featured in National Television for the positive impact it had in the realm of Biomedical Engineering. Her strengths lie in her data analytical skills, which she constantly utilizes to improve day to day work processes and to bring in innovation.

Dr. Mantha has a passion for social entrepreneurship and currently runs a Non-Profit called Cradle India Foundation based in India. The organization provides free day care services to children below 5 years of age whose mothers are in the un-organized working sector such as the construction industry, etc. She and her husband Ajish currently live in Houston, Texas. They have one son, Govind, age 9, and a Jack Russell, Cookie.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When will the conference take place? Where is it located?

    Friday, October 12 | 9:00 AM — 4:00 PM
    Ballroom, Student Center South | University of Houston

  • What is the registration fee? How can I register for the conference?

    Guess what? It's FREE! Simply go to the conference website to register and submit your application for the Design Challenge.

  • Is there free food?

    Yes, light morning snack (granola bars, fruit and coffee) and afternoon snack (coffee, and snacks) plus a boxed lunch will be provided.

  • What about free giveaways?

    Conference T-shirts will be given away to the first 150 eligible registrants. We remember the times when we signed up for anything to get free T-shirts. Some things never change, do they?

  • Who is eligible to register for the conference?

    Anyone who is curious, energetic and interested in learning more from construction industry leaders is encouraged to attend. In addition, those with engineering, math and computer science, technology and construction management backgrounds will get the most out of the event.

  • Is there a photo booth at the conference?

    Yes. You and other attendees are encouraged to take pictures in our conference photo booth and share on social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn). Preferred hashtags will be provided shortly.

  • Why is Fluor sponsoring and going through the effort of having a UH-Fluor Industrial Conference?

    Fluor has worked closely with the University of Houston since 1991. In 2016, the Fluor Foundation donated $1 million to its College of Technology to establish the Fluor-UH Industrial Construction Management Education Partnership, focusing on research and professional development. The UH-Fluor Industrial Conference is an extension of Fluor's long-term commitment to the university and its students. By organizing such events that promote knowledge sharing and professional development, Fluor is hopeful that some of University of Houston’s best and brightest choose Fluor when making career decisions post-graduation.

  • What is Construction-Driven Execution?

    At Fluor, we define Construction-Driven Execution as the strategies, work practices and accountabilities that drive the delivery of construction and fabrication services in the safest, most cost-efficient, predictable manner possible. We strive to deliver cost-effective, safe, and innovative solutions to our Clients’ toughest challenges. We do this through an integrated Engineering – Procurement – Fabrication – Construction solution.

    The Construction phase of projects typically exposes us to the most risk at both a personal safety and commercial level – and the best way to address that risk is by eliminating and/or mitigating it during the design phase. That is what Construction-Driven Execution is all about!

  • Why is the theme for the conference "Construction-Driven Execution"?

    Simply put, construction-driven is the right way to execute projects. We want students to be aware of the tenets of a construction-driven approach, as well as the latest execution methodologies so they are better prepared to make informed decisions when they’re working in the construction industry post-graduation.

  • What can I expect to learn at the conference?

    Get ready for a day of learning and networking! Throughout the day, you will learn about the latest trends in the heavy industrial construction industry and basic concepts regarding all aspects of a construction-driven approach to project execution. You will also have the opportunity to network with Fluor leadership and peers from other colleges and disciplines.

  • Who are the speakers at the conference?

    Throughout the day, you will hear from Fluor leaders who are equally as passionate about mentoring and sharing knowledge as they are about construction. Each speaker will leverage their broad experience in all aspects of project execution — engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction and project management — during their presentations to provide you with a valuable learning experience.

  • What is the Design Challenge?

    Leading up to the conference, we're asking students to take part in our first-ever Design Challenge — Operation Restore Puerto Rico. The Design Challenge replicates the Construction-Driven Execution approach that Fluor takes on Pipeline Projects. Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico destroying the majority of infrastructure on the island and leaving its residents in dire need of electricity. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to provide fuel to the power generation plant to get the island back on track. For Design Challenge details and to register, see the details below.

  • Is the registration for the conference separate from the Design Challenge?

    Yes, you must register separately for both events. Registering for the conference does not automatically register you for the Design Challenge, and vice versa.

  • How can I participate in the Design Challenge?

    It’s easy! First, bring your quintessential go-getter attitude. Second, we strongly encourage diversity in curriculum, as the different approaches and perspective often lead to more efficient and effective results.

  • What are critical dates for Design Challenge?

    • August 20, 2018: Instructions and guidelines of the Design Challenge will be posted.
    • August 27, 2018: The actual challenge will be published. Be on the lookout!
    • August 27 — September 25, 2018: Teams work on Operation Restore Puerto Rico.
    • September 17, 2018: Portal for submissions opens. You can submit your solution here if you are ready. Keep in mind, once submitted, you cannot resubmit your solution.
    • September 25, 2018: Portal for submissions closes. But we know you are always ahead of time and you will beat the deadline! (Not responsible if the website is slow or shuts down due to internet traffic).
    • September 26 — October 1, 2018: Evaluations of submissions by Conference Design Team.
    • October 2, 2018: Results published on the conference website and Top five teams will be notified via email. Be ready with your 10 minute presentations ahead of time in case you are in the top five! Design team will work with Top 5 teams to help prepare for the presentations.
    • October 4 — 5, 2018: Top five teams will be invited to Fluor Campus to make presentations, interviews by the Design challenge panel and top three will be picked. Results will be published on the conference website and notifications of which the top three teams are will be sent via email.
    • October 12, 2018 (the day of the conference!): Student presentations of top-three teams and announcement of the winners by Jack Penley, Senior Vice President of Fluor’s Global Construction & Fabrication organization.
  • What are the prizes for the Design Challenge?

    • Cash awards
    • A year of mentorship by a Fluor leader
    • Certificates that can go into your resume builder
    • Unlimited bragging rights!!!!!
  • Why should I participate in Design Challenge?

    To showcase your Cougar brilliance, of course. Can there be a greater purpose than that?

  • I have more questions, whom do I talk to?

    Feel free to email aishwarya.mantha@fluor.com. She is a fellow Cougar, UH alumna and the conference chair.

Design Challenge

Ready to Show Your Cougar Brilliance?

After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, destroying the majority of the infrastructure on the island, the commonwealth has been in dire need of getting electricity to its people. Your design team has been tasked with providing a solution to get much needed fuel to the power generation plant to get the island back on track. A power plant in the city of Caguas, central to the island, has been retrofitted to burn natural gas, but will require a new natural gas pipeline to feed the power plant. Your task is to provide a design solution for a cost effective and constructible pipeline transmission system to move natural gas from the coast to the gas fired power generation facilities at a location central to the island near the city of Caguas. Formulate your team and join us in this challenge competition!

Design Challenge Finalists

  • BSR Solutions
  • E.B.C.
  • SEF Construction


Jack Penley

Jack PenleySenior Vice President, Construction and Fabrication, Fluor Corporation

Jack Penley is senior vice president of Fluor's global Construction and Fabrication organization. In his 30-plus-year career, Penley has overseen the successful completion of several of Fluor's largest, most complex construction projects, spanning a wide range of industries, contract arrangements and execution approaches.

Previously, Penley was vice president of construction on the North West Redwater Partnership Sturgeon Refinery Project in Alberta, Canada, a highly modularized project with direct-hire labor. He also led construction efforts on other notable projects including the Sunoco Expansion Project in Toledo, Ohio and the Marathon Detroit Heavy Oil Upgrade Project in Detroit, Michigan.

Throughout his career, Penley has focused on continuous improvement and innovation to advance Fluor and the construction industry. Under his leadership, best practices like advanced work packaging and integrated scaffolding have become standard companywide and work processes have been refined to enhance project execution.

Penley is an advocate for employee development, committed to growing the industry's next generation of construction leadership. He has supported many community development efforts during his project assignments over the years.

Safety is a primary focus for Penley. He has overseen multiple projects with more than one million work hours without a recordable incident, and one project with more than two million safe work hours. Penley is a board member for Supreme Modular Fabrication Inc., Fluor's joint venture fabrication yard in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Frank Dishongh

Frank DishonghVice President, Houston Office General Manager

Frank Dishongh is vice president and general manager for Fluor's Houston office, a major Energy & Chemicals operations center and hub for megaprojects.

Dishongh has more than 36 years' engineering and construction experience with over 32 years of service to Fluor, supporting projects in the refining, chemicals, petrochemicals and manufacturing industries.

Prior to assuming his current role, Dishongh served as Regional General Manager for the Middle East and North Africa where he was responsible for all in-country execution of Energy & Chemicals projects in the region. He also simultaneously served as the General Manager for Fluor Arabia Limited in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, supporting project execution for all of Fluor’s business lines.

Dishongh has also served as project director on major Energy & Chemicals projects globally, including locations in Azerbaijan, Germany, Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. He has worked in various project management, engineering management, construction management, and project controls roles. In addition, Dishongh has supported operations and business development opportunities in Fluor’s Amsterdam office.

Dishongh holds a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Rice University.

Allison Welch

Allison WelchUH-Fluor Executive Sponsor, Fluor Corporation

Allison Welch is a Project Director at Fluor Corporation, one of the world's largest publicly-traded engineering and project management companies. She is a graduate of the University of Houston with a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering. Welch joined Fluor working as a process engineer and has experience primarily in the execution of international and domestic projects in the energy and chemical industry. During her 18 years at Fluor, Welch has worked varying project phases, from initial conceptual design through the construction phase. She is currently the project director on a feasibility project for a diesel hydrotreater in the US Gulf Coast.

As a proud alumna of the University of Houston, Welch has been Executive Sponsor of the Fluor and University of Houston Sponsorship Program and works closely with the university on improvement of its Industrial Construction Management program curriculum. During her spare time, she loves spending time with her husband and three children traveling, cooking, hiking and cycling. She is an active supporter of the MS 150.

Dr. Anthony Ambler

Dr. Anthony P. AmblerDean, College of Technology

Dr. Anthony P. Ambler is the Dean of the College of Technology at the University of Houston. A native of the United Kingdom, Ambler has worked with many UK, EU, and US companies in the field of test technology for electronic components and systems, a discipline that gained him election to Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. After appointment as one of the youngest chaired professors at Brunel University in England, he accepted an invitation to join the faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.

After five years, Ambler assumed the duties of chairman of that department for the next nine years. While there, he created the first major interdisciplinary master's degree in Engineering Management. In 2011, he accepted the position of Dean of the College of Engineering and Computing at the University of South Carolina, and in 2016 accepted the position of Academic Director and Workforce Development in the Office of Economic Engagement, which provides leadership within the university for major industry, commerce, and government investment.

Joseph Tedesco

Dr. Joseph W. TedescoDean, Cullen College of Engineering

Joseph W. Tedesco is the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Dean of the UH Cullen College of Engineering. Tedesco's primary research interests are in modeling of load-bearing and stress on concrete and other structural materials. An outstanding educator and researcher in the field of civil engineering, Tedesco authored two textbooks on structural dynamics and served as an author, coauthor, or editor of over 170 books, book chapters, presentations, and conferences. He has also been the principal investigator on several dozen granted research projects.

Tedesco earned his doctorate degree in civil engineering from Lehigh University. Prior to his role as Dean of the Cullen College, he taught civil engineering at the University of Florida (Gainesville), Auburn University, and Oregon State University. He received the Loyd M. Carter Award at Oregon State University and the Outstanding Professor Award at Auburn University for his excellence in teaching.

Dan Wells

Dr. Dan WellsDean, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Dr. Dan Wells is the Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Consistently recognized for his teaching, research and mentoring, Wells received the University's Excellence in Research and Scholarship Award in 1997, the Cooper Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1998 and UH's Career Teaching Excellence Award in 2011. He received two National Science Foundation (NSF) grants for teaching and undergraduate research, was the principal investigator of a student success grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and served as co-principal investigator (co-PI) for the NSF ADVANCE grant and the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation grant. He is currently the co-PI for a Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant focused on student success in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics. At UH, he has graduated 19 master’s students and 18 doctoral students and worked with 27 undergraduates on research projects.

His research focuses on genetics. One of his long-term interests is the molecular and genetic characterization of a series of human syndromes characterized by defects in proper cartilage and bone development. Wells has published 90 research articles, with 46 of them focusing on human genetic disease.

Wells earned his Ph.D. in cell, molecular and developmental biology from Indiana University in 1983. Following his Ph.D., he was awarded an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University School of Medicine. He received his bachelor’s degree in biology and master’s degree in zoology, both from California State University.