Michael Swenson

Mechanical Engineering Hall of Fame
B.S., Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, 1975

Michael graduated with his BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1975. He really enjoyed his time in Austin and his Fraternity for two semesters before he met Patti, his future wife of nearly 48 years. She convinced him that going to College was not the same as going School, so he adjusted a few of his study habits. While on Campus, he actively participated in the ASME chapter, and the Student Engineering Council. During his Junior year he was President of the SEC, and under the cover of night they recovered Alex the Patron Saint of Engineering, from the Law School and rightfully returned him to the College of Engineering where he resides today.

1975 was a great time to be a graduating engineer. He accepted a role in Conoco beginning his career as a Project Engineer in their Mid-Stream business. He held multiple assignments and supervisory roles in Engineering before moving into an Operations assignment running natural gas pipelines and processing plants. This role allowed him to experience the results of engineering work from headquarters that didn’t mesh correctly with the field operating systems. From then on, he helped champion collaboration to improve quality and fit-for-purpose results throughout his career.

After several natural gas commercial assignments, he was asked to lead the engineering and business development organization for Conoco’s Natural Gas and Gas Products Business. This group ran all the engineering functions including recruiting, training and development. This allowed him return to campus and speak with engineering organizations and hire some of UT’s best and brightest students. In the business development group the team identified opportunities for expansion and growth in North America and spent $800 million on these new pipelines, plants and supporting acquisitions.

In his last role , Michael was responsible for ConocoPhillips’ Power Generation and Technology Business. His team developed and built a $1 billion - 1200 MW Cogeneration Power Plant in the United Kingdom, which is Europes largest and most efficient gas fired power plant. The Technology businesses consisted of licensing to global third parties, the proprietary Optimized Cascade Liquefaction Process technology, as well as the solids Gasification Technology for converting coal into Syngas and allowing for the capture of CO2 from the exhaust gasses.

In his 35 year career, he and his family lived in 6 different states and the United Kingdom, experienced 11 permanent relocations and belonged to 6 churches. He currently lives in Round Top where he enjoys woodworking, golf, and supporting UT events locally and in Austin. They spend their summers in Colorado where he adds fly fishing into his hobbies. He has used his engineering background to serve on the ME EAC, build a new sanctuary for their church in Brenham and rewrite the HOA for their Colorado community. In their estate plans, they have provided for an Endowed Professorship in Alternative Energy, and Presidential Scholarships for the College of Education.