Louis Manz
Louis Manz

Commencement Close-up: Louis Manz is first recipient of environmental science and engineering doctorate

(May 13, 2005)--At age 68, Louis Manz is living proof of the adage, "You're never too old to learn something new."

On Saturday, Manz will receive his fifth degree -- this one is UTSA's first doctoral degree awarded in environmental science in engineering. Manz already earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in civil engineering at UTSA, after retiring as an Air Force colonel following a 25-year career.

His contributions to UTSA are numerous, not only as a student but also as an educator and researcher. He taught classes in the College of Engineering and involved UTSA in a humanitarian effort with the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas to provide clean and safe drinking water for poverty stricken Hondurans.

"Seeing the people draw fresh water from a well we built was one of the most exciting things I have ever done in my life," said Manz. "We expect to complete 25 wells in different Honduran villages."

The research project has provided for the drilling of 12 new water wells and has blossomed into a partnership with the University of Honduras (UNAH), an institution with an enrollment of more than 80,000 students.

In October 2004, Manz joined UTSA President Ricardo Romo, UNAH Rector Guillermo Perez Cadalso Arias and Weldon Hammond, UTSA Amy Shelton and V.H. McNutt Distinguished Professor and Center for Water Research director, in Honduras to sign an agreement for both institutions to cooperate in water-resource research and address the problems of water supply in rural areas of Honduras. The collaboration allows faculty from both universities to develop research projects and plan joint courses, conferences, seminars, symposiums and lectures.

In March, Manz welcomed three UNAH engineering faculty members to tour the UTSA campus and view the Center for Water Research laboratories. He presented them with the findings from his dissertation on improving water, and an agreement was reached to collaborate on three research projects.

One project will study the water quality in rural Honduras to determine the source of the contamination and another will analyze the watershed run-off to determine how much rainfall is being deposited into local streams. The final project will study the water characterization of aquifers in the region.

According to Manz, news is spreading of the UTSA Center for Water Research project that has assisted 4,500 residents in the villages of Honduras.

"We are being asked to assist in drilling water wells in several other countries as well as other regions in Honduras," said Manz.

Manz credits his success to the support of Kathleen, his wife of 47 years, and their three children. Kathleen Manz, also a UTSA educator, followed his lead and enrolled at UTSA where she earned a master's degree in English as a second language.

--Kris Rodriguez

University Communications
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