James Houston

James Houston

Briefly what you were doing immediately before graduate school. If employed, position title and employer name/location. 
In May of 1998, I graduated with my B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Prairie View A&M University. Then, I interned with E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company at their   Sabine River Works plant in Orange, TX. My projects consisted of:
Revised chlorinator’s tubing & cylinder’s piping; Designed a solution to eliminate weld failures in cooling tower sand filter, a process to use chilled water on D unit’s recycle discharge cooler, a tool for C unit’s purge compressor valve installation; Originated Change of Design (COD) for North Waste Water Handling Pump

Then what led to the graduate school decision (was it a specific course or professor, a career turning point, etc.).
My long-term goal is to enroll into an MD/PhD program no later than fall of 2008. My emphasis will be in biomechanics and orthopedics. I want to develop innovative methods that will decrease surgical recovery time, increase the patient’s reliability and maintainability, and enhance the lifespan of artificial joints. This means I need to produce or improve methods that will strengthen (joints, tendons, etc) the body and make the body more efficient.

In order to accomplish my long term goal, I needed to take some advanced engineering courses. Hence, I applied to graduate school.

Why you applied for the GEM fellowship
A Prairie View alumnus came to campus in order to recruit for GEM. I knew him when he attended Prairie View A&M University. He told me to fill out an application and the rest is history.

What you hoped to gain from the graduate school experience.
At Penn State University, my research project addressed connecting rod deformations in automotive engines. One of the most important tools for design engineers is engine lubrication analysis. Lubrication analysis increases engine reliability, and enables a reduction in weight and friction. Engine lubrication analysis is critical to automotive engine bearings and the big-end bearings of connecting rods. My paper introduced several types of engine lubrication analysis that reduce computer costs and computer time. This means these methods were cheaper but more efficient.

The human body has joints that act similar to bearings. Methods that address engine lubrication might be useful to doctors in the orthopedic and biomechanical fields.  In other words, the medical world should benefit from the analytical and mathematical methods engineers use on a daily basis. I want to use my engineering skills in the field of medicine. During school, I realized that the human body is composed of mechanisms. In theory, this means the skeletal, nervous, and muscular systems can be interpreted mechanically. My intention is to make this theory into a productive fact.

A remarkable classroom/lab or internship experience as a GEM fellow
After I graduated in spring 2000 from PSU, I felt the need to apply my academic skills. Between fall 2000 and spring 2002, I worked in several areas. In May 2002, I began my federal career at NAVAIR. NAVAIR is a U.S. Navy Base in Patuxent, Maryland. At NAVAIR, I was a Mechanical Engineer in the Air Vehicle Division. My group handled mechanisms and actuation for all navy aircraft. After I gained tenure with the Navy, I decided to finish my long term goal.

Lastly, What are you doing now, including position title, employer name/location, and responsibilities.
Currently, I am in my third semester at the University of Maryland. I am on path to gaining a B.S. in Biochemistry. On August 19, 2006, I took my MCATS. I plan to start applying to MD-PhD schools no later than August 2007. Even more, I can add to my applications that I am a published author. I co-authored “Sprint Secrets” (ISBN 0-9776328-0-6) with two other authors. My main purpose was to write the scientific (physics, statics, dynamics, etc) part of the book. You see this book was just the beginning of my plan for bridging engineering, chemistry and biology for the betterment of man.

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