For Bernard A. Paulson (BS Chem Egr '49) the awards and accolades keep piling up, but he would rather talk about the need for more engineers. The former president of Koch Refining has spent almost two decades helping to bring an engineering program to Texas A& M University – Corpus Christi. He is retired and lives in Corpus Christi, but his belief in the continuing need for engineers has not gone away.
Paulson’s interest in engineering actually began with his father who studied mining engineering. Paulson’s love of chemistry finally steered him to chemical engineering. That, and his fascination with an oil well dug on his family’s land in 1936. However, a chance conversation with Carl Cooper, an MSU chemical engineering professor, changed Paulson’s mind about joining the Air Force and encouraged him to search for work in a refinery. After getting his degree in June 1949, he hitchhiked north from East Lansing toward home (Lakeview, Mich.) and stopped in Alma at Mid-West Refineries. He was later hired as a process engineer there and held positions with various refining and petroleum companies.
In 1971 Paulson joined Koch Refining Company and later was appointed president. He was instrumental in hiring many Spartan graduates at Koch industries and told graduating seniors to look for a safe company to work for, one that values hard work.
Paulson has always had a soft spot in his heart for MSU and has made major contributions to the department and the university. Paulson and his wife established the Bernard and Joan Paulson Endowed Scholarship Fund for chemical engineering. He was awarded the MSU College of Engineering Claud R. Erickson Distinguished Alumni award in 1994.
Paulson pushed for an engineering school at Corpus Christi because the area has the second largest concentration of process industries, such as refineries and chemical plants, in Texas, right behind Houston. In 2009 the university began offering a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, one of the most needed disciplines in the area. The program will be eligible for accreditation after graduating its first class in 2013. Because of his efforts, Paulson was named the 2008 Newsmaker of the Year by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.