Houston Executive Suggests Employees Refine Their Problem Solving Skills

Bob Prochnow is currently executive director of the Technology Collaboration Center of Houston (TCC-Houston). The Center was formed with the support of organizations, like Shell, Battelle, Wyle, Rice University, and NASA. The Technology Collaboration Center of Houston provides a collaboration concierge service connecting world-renowned cross-industry expertise from the space, energy and medical communities to solve difficult technological problems. Customized research teams are assembled from these communities to attack problems too complex for individual organizations to overcome.

(Photo Courtesy of Bob Prochnow)

(Photo Courtesy of Bob Prochnow)

What is your educational background?

“I graduated in 1972 from Shawnee Mission South High School in my hometown of Overland Park, Kansas. I then attended Rice University and obtained a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1976 and a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1977, specializing digital hardware and computer software.”

What do you do?

“I am currently serving as the new TCC’s executive director, establishing the center as an independent non-profit and launching the center’s first two programs. With the Technology Event series program, the TCC holds quarterly events focused on technology topic areas with the potential for the formation of new collaborations. The first event was held in March on air quality, and we just held an event this week at the Johnson Space Center on knowledge management. Future events are being planned on wearable technologies and on personalized medicine and genomics. TCC events are open to the public.”

“The TCC’s primary program will be the collaboration concierge service – a match-making service helping organizations with unmet technology challenges find development partners. Especially in this period when our universities, energy companies and the Johnson Space Center have significant technology challenges with uncertain budgets. Shifting to a collaboration model for new development can allow them to accomplish more with a lower investment of their resources and funding. This is done by leveraging the potential mutual benefits for developing shared technology, which could have applications across multiple technology sectors (such as Houston’s focus on energy, life science and space exploration). Any organization can submit collaboration requests or responses. The first group of requests are being reviewed now and we will begin looking for collaboration partners for those requests soon.”

How does education help my job?

“While the technical skills gained from my education helped considerably in my first career. When I focused more on technology, the value of the specific technology skills diminishes over time, especially due to the rapid pace of technology change. However, what stays is the ability to learn and adapt, and the ability to apply technology and knowledge to solve new challenges. In the long run, what is probably more important than the knowledge of a specific technology is the ability to find solutions to problems and build the team and strategy needed for success.”

Richard Carranza is a reporter from the Houston, Texas area and published his first work in 1990. His education includes a bachelor of arts in chemistry from Cornell College, master of science in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University, and a masters of business administration from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. In addition to writing, Richard is involved in the design of petroleum refineries, petrochemical plants, oil/gas facilities and ethanol plants. He also carries out writing assignments for publications like Chemical Processing Magazine, Maritime Executive Magazine and Chemical Online.

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