The University of Houston College of Technology is the recipient of a nearly $2 million gift to endow scholarships and support new infrastructure in its University of Houston at Sugar Land building. The gift generously comes from Heavy Construction Systems Specialists, Inc. (HCSS), a Sugar Land innovative software company for the construction industry, as a memorial to Sophie Rydin, wife of HCSS CEO, Mike Rydin.
“By all accounts, Dr. Rydin was a passionate and influential educator who touched the lives of many,” said Eloise Brice, vice president for university advancement. “These endowments and support for the College of Technology will extend her wonderful legacy while inspiring and supporting so many of our students to achieve their academic potential.”
A large portion of the gift, $600,000, will support students in the college’s programs of Computer Information Systems, Construction Management, Digital Media, and Technology Leadership & Innovation Management. An additional $400,000 was given to support endowed scholarships in the College of Nursing and the C. T. Bauer College of Business.
Sophie Rydin passed away after a two-year battle with cancer.
“We are humbled and honored that HCSS has chosen to invest in the future of our programs and students in this very profound way,” said Anthony Ambler, dean of the college. “This gift carries with it the commitment to the industry and, more importantly its people, as Dr. Rydin always taught.”
In recognition of the generosity of this transformative gift, the first floor of the UH College of Technology at the University of Houston at Sugar Land will be named the HCSS Floor.
“Because we are a Sugar Land company, we are excited about this opportunity to help the University of Houston College of Technology and honor Sophie at the same time. We are impressed with the plans that Dr. Ambler has for being a leading technology center, and we are proud to be on the ground floor of these plans,” said Mike Rydin, husband to Sophie and CEO of HCSS.
In 2019, the George Foundation, in donating $1 million to the college’s new Sugar Land building construction effort, issued a $2 million matching grant challenge to its community partners. The challenge was answered by HCSS, whose $1 million facilities gift is now eligible for the matching support making the total HCSS gift to the University $2 million. The funds also will be used to outfit an advanced manufacturing laboratory space in the college. Additionally, monies will support the build‐out of IT infrastructure to support a diversity of course delivery methods.
HCSS, a Sugar Land company, has developed integrated software, from inception to completion, for infrastructure, heavy/highway, and utility contractor clients since 1986. Like the College of Technology, HCSS is an innovator—in technology, service and business, as their mission statement conveys—but also in its company culture. They strive to be an employer of choice and a valuable part of the Sugar Land community, committing to give back to both. These are values that are the foundation of HCSS and values exemplified by Sophie Rydin.
Sophie Lin Rydin’s remarkable life began in Taipei, Taiwan, where she was born. She left for the United States in 1976 to lead a student’s life of waiting tables and pursuing her studies. She later earned a master’s degree in occupational therapy from Texas Women’s University. It was a field she would devote more than 40 years to as a professional and as a professor. She married Mike Rydin in 1984 and began a journey with him that included two sons and a software company. Her work in human resources earned her the title of vice president of HR and the company the title “Best Place to Work in Texas” 11 years in a row by Texas Monthly Magazine.
“The students who will benefit from Dr. Rydin's generosity will truly know what it means to live life like Sophie would, ensuring that our community not only thrives in skill and in leadership, but also in kindness and in passion,” said Jay Neal, UH at Sugar Land associate vice president, academic affairs and chief operating officer. “That is her legacy.”