Camden named MechSE Distinguished Alumna
Alumna Heather Camden (BSME ’95) was back on campus last month to receive one of the 2019 MechSE Distinguished Alumni Awards. She and her fellow distinguished alumni were honored at MechSE’s annual awards banquet on March 29.
Camden, now the Managing Principal and Project Manager at E&C Engineers & Consultants Inc., in Houston, worked as an undergraduate research assistant in Professor Pega Hrnjak’s lab—where he taught her how to braze copper and create a refrigeration system that was more than one just in theory and on paper. Camden had known that she wanted to work in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) design, but the work she did in Hrnjak’s lab made this goal more real.
At Illinois, Heather was also a member of Chi Omega sorority. She served as a rush chair, and found the sorority a great place to relax, meet friends, and be part of something larger than her freshman dorm room.
After graduation, Camden attended Texas A&M University, where she earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1999. While there, she worked in the Energy Systems Laboratory to improve energy efficiency in state buildings. She also served as president of A&M’s ASHRAE chapter (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers). Upon graduation, she began work for a mechanical contractor, where she learned how buildings are constructed and gained knowledge of how air and water worked in the HVAC field. In 2001, she returned to campus to teach a class on heat loads in commercial buildings.
At E&C, she was able to continue her work in energy efficiency. As an initial project, she surveyed the laboratories in medical school buildings with the goal of transitioning them from constant volume to variable volume systems. Now she is working closely with the UT Health Science Center at Houston to reduce energy usage across campus. As a result of these efforts, the university won an energy savings award from local utility companies.
Additionally, Camden was part of the disaster recovery and replacement projects for the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and Baylor College of Medicine after Tropical Storm Alison hit in 2001. She worked on two new research buildings at the University of Houston that helped them achieve Tier 1 status. One of the buildings was a surgical suite and laser center for optometry, and the other housed the pharmacy department and the College of Medicine. She also designed the installation of the first MRI/Linear Accelerator in the world to see patients at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
“My studies at the U of I really gave me a strong base that enabled me to tackle tough issues in building design and to push the design to be its most efficient either in energy or space usage,” said Camden.