Before his 30th birthday, Kyle Holmes had directed the installation of plumbing, piping and mechanical systems on six construction projects costing a total of almost $200 million — including one at the University of North Texas, where he received a jump start on his engineering career.
As a result of graduating from UNT's Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, Holmes received a full scholarship to attend Oklahoma State University's College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology. In 2002 — seven years after graduating from TAMS — he was overseeing the installation of air conditioning, and heating units and plumbing for UNT's Pohl Recreation Center.
Holmes, 31, will return to UNT May 9 to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from TAMS during the academy's annual commencement ceremony.
About 170 students are expected to receive TAMS diplomas plus college credit at this year's ceremony, which begins at 7 p.m. in the UNT Auditorium Building.
Established by the Texas Legislature in 1987, TAMS is a two-year early admissions program that allows students who are talented in math and science to complete their freshman and sophomore years of college two years earlier than other students. Students enroll in TAMS following their sophomore year of high school, live in a UNT residence hall and attend UNT classes with college-age students. At the end of two years, the TAMS students graduate with at least 60 hours of college credit and the equivalent of a high school diploma. The students transfer to other universities or stay at UNT to finish their bachelor's degrees.
The speakers for this year's commencement ceremony are two graduating students: Mason Fitch of Beeville and Amina Igeh of Flower Mound.
Holmes, a 1995 graduate of TAMS, attended Coppell High School before entering the academy in August 1993.
"I came from a great high school, but there's not a high school anywhere that provides the breadth of courses that a college campus does," he says. "I was excited to come to TAMS for the opportunities, and to be surrounded by other students who really cared about learning. My expectations were that I would go there and work very hard, and that I would meet great friends, and those two things certainly happened. The friends I made were better friends than I had in high school."
He says the science courses he took at TAMS and his work in a chemistry laboratory with a UNT professor helped him decide on a career in engineering.
"The most valuable thing I learned was that I'm too animated for laboratory work," he says. "I think it's great if you're 16 years old and know exactly what you want to do when you graduate from college, but I also think it's great that TAMS gives you two years to explore."
Holmes earned a degree in chemical engineering from OSU, thinking he would go to medical school later and needing to take organic chemistry to qualify. He worked briefly for TPA, Inc., in Dallas, designing and developing specialty plants for the petrochemical industry, before joining Brandt in 1999 as a project engineer and project manager.
He is on the TAMS Admissions Selection Committee, and also assists the academy by speaking to students at summer orientation and new student convocation.
Richard Sinclair, TAMS dean, says he remembers Holmes as "an exceptionally mature TAMS student."
"It is no surprise that he would be given important responsibility at a relatively young age," he says. "Kyle is an important and welcome voice on the academy's Selection Committee, and impressive to the current students when he relates his experiences at TAMS."
UNT News Service Press Release
Nancy Kolsti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.