The University of Texas at Arlington College of Science Fall 2011  

Alumni profile

Belief in education has led to success for Holt

     The story of UT Arlington alumnus Amos Holt's favorite teacher is proof that an educator can make a significant impact on students in a short amount of time.
     In the small north Texas town of Godley, southwest of Fort Worth, where Holt attended high school, he had a math and science teacher named Mr. Pierce. Holt remembers Pierce as having a major influence on his life and for helping instill a love of math, science and engineering in him. Pierce left a year later for an engineering job, but the impact he made on Holt was lasting.
Amos Holt
Amos Holt
     "He was a key to unfolding the path that I chose," Holt said. "He helped me realize that math is just another language that you have to learn, like any other. He was a thoughtful, direct, to the point individual. I remember he had a degree in physics and one in engineering, 'physics for the understanding of why and engineering for the practice of how,' he would say. With him, failure was not an option."
     Holt, 71, used the inspiration he drew from Pierce and the teacher's high expectations to help propel him in his education and his career. He is vice president of Environmental, Safety and Quality Systems at Southwestern Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, an independent, nonprofit applied research and development organization specializing in the creation and transfer of technology in engineering and the physical sciences. He joined SwRI in 1985 as vice president of its Nondestructive Evaluation Science and Technology Division.
     "The institute is a fantastic place," Holt said. "It's unique and it really encourages creativity. You get to help solve problems in virtually every industry."
     He also serves as a leader in the field of engineering, having been elected president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 2008. He figures he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles around the world for various conferences and other events in his role as ASME president.
     He is also a member of American Society for Quality, Society of Manufacturing Engineers, American Nuclear Society and Sigma Pi Sigma, the physics honors society. He has five U.S. patents and more than 40 publications in all areas of NDE and diagnostics, specifically in ultrasonic imaging and aural perception.
     Holt was born in Grand Canyon, Arizona. The family soon moved to Texas, where both his parents grew up. After graduating from Godley High School, he was set on going to Texas A&M University, but opted for Arlington State College (later renamed UT Arlington), then a two-year school in the A&M system, so he could continue working a part-time job in Fort Worth. At the end of his second year, ASC became a four-year school, and "the rest is history," Holt said.
     He earned a B.S. in Physics from ASC in 1963 and an M.A. in Physics from the renamed UT Arlington in 1971. He was in the ROTC at Arlington State College and went on to serve in the U.S. Army from 1963-65. In 1994, he received a Ph.D. in computer information sciences from NOVA Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale-Davie, Florida.
     Holt and his wife, Carolyn, live in Boerne. Holt's strong belief in education has been passed on to his four children, all of whom have master's degrees, and two of whom also have doctoral degrees. He is a firm believer that improved education in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields is critical to the United States' future success.
     "In the U.S. today, we spend thousands of dollars on education, only to rank in the lower quartile of all developed and many developing countries who spend much less on education," Holt said. "So there are a number of reasons to boost our education system. One – and the most important in my opinion – is a true desire to teach all students science, technology, engineering and mathematics and then proceed to the depth necessary for those students with an interest to make these subjects a career choice."