During May commencement ceremonies the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin recognized four outstanding young graduates who have become influential leaders in the engineering community. They are Blake Battaglia, Laura Johnson O'Donnell, Amarpreet S. Sawhney and Michael W. Smart.  In addition, university-wide ceremonies honored engineer Dennis L. McWilliams as one of four 2007 Outstanding Young Texas Exes.

Blake Battaglia graduated in 1996 with a degree in electrical and computer engineering. In 1998, Battaglia joined ABRY Partners where he has worked in sourcing, structuring, financing and monitoring numerous investments in several media and communications sub-sectors. He has served as a director of Nexstar Broadcast Group, Atlantic Broadband, WideOpenWest, Hometown Broadband and Cast & Crew Entertainment and is a member of the university's Chancellor's Council and Littlefield Society.

Laura Johnson O'Donnell graduated with an aerospace engineering degree with highest honors in 1990. She is the founder and owner of Synthese, LLC and works to connect satellites with homes and cars. In 2002, she was named vice president of product development where she led the deployment of innovative services including DVR, HD and Interactive. O'Donnell is an active supporter of the university's aerospace engineering program and served on their external advisory council from 1996-1999.

Amarpreet S. Sawhney, founder, president and chief executive officer of I-Therapeutix, Inc., graduated in 1989 with a master's degree and in 1992 with a doctoral degree, both in chemical engineering. Before founding Therapeutix, which works to serve ophthalmic surgical needs, he founded two other companies, Confluent Surgical, which produces medical devices and Focal, Inc., a medical sealant manufacturer. He is also a Friend of Alec in the Cockrell School of Engineering.

Michael W. Smart earned his master's degree in structural engineering in 1996 and is a senior bridge engineer at International Bridge Technologies, Inc, a business he co-founded with his mentor, Daniel Tassin. In 2004, the company won the American Council of Engineering Companies Grand Award for Excellence in Engineering Design for the Santa Catarina Bridge and has completed other bridge projects in Australia, India and the United States. Smart is also a longtime supporter of UT's structural engineering program.

Outstanding Young Graduates are selected based on

          - distinguished contributions to the practice of engineering,
          - excellent direction to an organization that has made noteworthy 
             national or international contributions,
          - exceptional community service,
          - strong interest in the Cockrell School of Engineering,
          - exceptional role modeling to current or prospective engineering students.

As a 2007 Outstanding Young Texas Ex, McWilliams was recognized as an alumnus no older than 40 making significant career achievements as well as performing honorable service to the university. McWilliams graduated in 1993 with a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering.  He is chief executive officer of Apollo Endosurgery, Inc.in Austin, a biomedical start-up company seeking to commercialize devices that transform flexible endoscopy into a minimally invasive interventional practice.  This month Apollo signed a licensing agreement with The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) to commercialize technologies developed by the medical school's gastroenterologists.  The newly-licensed technologies seek to allow surgeons to transform common major surgeries such as organ biopsies, tubal ligation, and gastric bypass surgery into minimally invasive procedures.

This article was taken from the Cockrell School of Engineering website.