by Beverley Golden
Senior Director Media Relations, Marketing and Communications, UT Tyler 

For Tyler native Mike Clendenin, a university that produces career-ready graduates is the life blood of the future of EMA Engineering and Consulting, the company that he helms as president and CEO.

The Tyler-based company currently employs more than thirty graduates from The University of Texas at Tyler, and company leaders appreciate having the university as a local source for recruiting qualified engineers. “If we did not have a local source to recruit from, we would not have been nearly this successful bringing talent in from out of town. I also believe the future health of EMA is directly tied to the health of the college,” Clendenin said.

He feels so strongly about this reciprocal relationship, that EMA recently gifted $100,000 to UT Tyler. “This was a gift to the College of Engineering, but it was also an investment in the future of our company,” said the UT Tyler alum.

“This is a very meaningful and important gift from one of our own, and we are very grateful to Mike and EMA. You cannot have a great university without great support and great philanthropy. This gift is a classic example of that symbiotic relationship,” said Kirk A. Calhoun, MD, FACP, UT Tyler president.

Clendenin grew up in Tyler and attended K-12 in the Tyler Independent School District and then Tyler Junior College.

In 1997 when UT Tyler began offering degrees in engineering, Clendenin accepted an offer from his employers, Jim Estes and James McClure, to cover his tuition and books if he continued to work for EMA while pursuing his bachelor’s degree. “I loved my job and the company, so the decision was easy!” Clendenin is one of the first graduates of the UT Tyler mechanical engineering program. 

The College of Engineering has recognized him with its Distinguished Engineering Graduate Award. He has served on the college’s Department of Mechanical Engineering Industrial Advisory Board and the College’s Advisory Council.

The $100,000 gift will establish the EMA Engineering and Consulting Dean’s Legacy Projects Endowment to support infrastructure and facility needs of the College of Engineering that are often designed by students. Legacy projects enable the college to make critical enhancements to its facilities while providing students engaging enrichment experiences that improve their career readiness, according to Javier Kypuros, PhD, College of Engineering dean.

The gift also names the College of Engineering Ratliff Building South fourth-floor terrace. 

EMA is an employee-owned corporation that provides mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering and consulting services. It is recognized throughout Texas for school engineering experience on such projects as elementary, middle and high schools, athletic facilities, performing and fine art centers, natatoriums, and private and charter schools.

Since 1974, EMA has worked with architects and educational owners on projects both large and small, in urban and rural settings. Besides its vast educational facility background, EMA also has experience in commercial, municipal, religious and other institutional projects.

Clendenin is proud of the education he’s earned and the opportunities it has created.

“I feel like my education prepared me for a successful career,” he said. “Many of the things I learned translated directly into the core values that make EMA successful. In addition to engineering fundamentals, I also learned good teamwork and communication.”

The education he received is comparable to all the major university systems across the state. And it is a good value for people who don’t necessarily want to leave East Texas, he added. 

Clendenin will continue to seek future employees by tapping into this local resource. “I think the job market is good inside a radius around Tyler. There are a lot of companies like EMA that rely on UT Tyler to provide great engineering students and prospects.”