UT Tyler Alumnus and Family Engineered for Success
Publication Date: 05/28/2020
Michael “Mo” Morrison of Athens attended UT Tyler in the early ‘90s and graduated from the mechanical engineering program in 2004. He would later start a family tradition that includes a second generation of mechanical engineers. Learn more about the alumnus and how UT Tyler has impacted him and his family.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am one of the owners of Cole Air Conditioning Co. Inc., and my partners are my sister and mother. My stepfather started Cole Air Conditioning Co. in 1967, and in 1980, I started working there after school and during summers. We have a true family business, and I love working with my family. My titles are son, brother, husband, father and grandfather, but I usually answer to Mo, Dad or MoMo.
Describe your educational journey ... How did you discover UT Tyler?
I started at UT Tyler in the mid-1990s working on an accounting degree, but when UT Tyler began its engineering programming, I started college all over to enter the engineering program. I went back to Trinity Valley Community College – because UT Tyler was still just a two-year university at the time – and took the prerequisites in math and science then entered the mechanical engineering program. I liked accounting, but absolutely loved engineering. As a working father it took me an extra year, maybe two, to graduate, but when I received the Outstanding Senior of Mechanical Engineering Award for 2004, it was one of the proudest moments of my life.
What do you like about the College of Engineering?
The faculty’s wide array of experience, the ratio of students to faculty and the assortment of companies that are partnered with the college are what I find unique. UT Tyler offers students an opportunity to do actual engineering work in a real-world environment while having genuine support from professors who actually know them; their names, interests and skill strengths. The College of Engineering has grown and expanded their programs, but the dedication to the individual student has not changed.
Who was your favorite professor, and why?
Picking a favorite is impossible, as I have benefited from all the professors who I met at UT Tyler. When I hear “engineering professor,” I do think of Dr. Tom Crippen because he exemplified how to use math and science to analyze a system, identify problems and design solutions. He made me want to always be better, not through an intimidation of temperament, but through an intimidation of professionalism. I owe much to the College of Engineering and to Dr. Crippen. I have gained personally from my encounters with all the professors at UT Tyler, both during my time as a student and with the professors I have met since my children started. The University is truly a unique place with many special people.
How did UT Tyler prepare you for a successful career?
When I graduated with my engineering degree it gave me an enormous amount of confidence. I know the stereotype of engineers is that they are “nerds,” but I have met the most fearless and creative individuals at the College of Engineering. Learning to work as a team to solve complex problems becomes second nature. Knowing how to solve complex problems and knowing you can rely on the people around you, gives you an enormous amount of confidence to tackle any situation.
What advice do you have for current UT Tyler students?
Persist. Stick to it. Grind away and continue moving toward your goal. Don’t beat yourself up, and stay positive. View a setback as a setback, not a failure. A college degree is timed with a calendar, not a clock.
What are your hobbies/interests?
I attempt golf, fantasy football, vegetable gardening and cooking. I am absolutely awful at all of them. I am fortunate to really enjoy my job, and that is where most of my excess energy is spent.
Any family information you'd like to share?
Ginger and I have five daughters and one son and have accumulated three sons-in-law, one daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. We are very thankful and proud of our family; they are the most wonderful people you could hope to meet. Ginger graduated from UT Tyler in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science in interdisciplinary studies and is in administration with Athens Independent School District. Two of my daughters, Emilli and Marissa, graduated in 2019 with their BSME degrees, and one of our sons-in-law, Mark, is currently working on his mechanical engineering degree.
Anything else you'd like to add?
UT Tyler has had a profound impact on our family, as I’m sure it has for many others around East Texas. I cannot imagine what life would have been like without our UT Tyler experience. The East Texas area is so fortunate to have this resource to not only improve the student’s lives, but also to support the businesses in East Texas. I am so excited to see what the future holds for UT Tyler as it expands more into the medical fields and the impact that expansion will have on the College of Engineering as well as the other disciplines.