Mechanical Engineering – 1940
In 1940, Richard W. Hurn graduated from Texas Tech with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree, but his interests predate this achievement by a considerable number of years. Principal among his early memories of childhood days in the North Texas rural community of Hurnville are those of "... fixing farm machinery and improvising devices that used levers, pulleys, gears and whatever." He was hooked on engineering long before his college days began.
After graduation Mr. Hurn worked in Texas oilfields as a field engineer for the Humble Oil Company. That early job experience was interrupted by four years of World War II military service with the U.S. Navy. In 1946, he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin and the following year graduated with an M.S. degree. In 1948, he terminated his employment with Humble and began his long time association with the U.S. Bureau of Mines, now a part of the U.S. Department of Energy.
Mr Hurn has authored more than 65 research publications, but he regards as most gratifying his success in generating solid engineering data to place technical problems in correct perspective, particularly his wok in explaining fuel composition and its relationship to smog effect, and the true fuel economy costs of emission control. Presently much of his research is concerned with alternative fuels including the use of methanol in blends with gasoline and as a straight fuel. Other current research deals with coal, alcohol, and oil shale as gasoline sources and with the effects of diesel engine exhaust in underground mining. In all of these areas, he is recognized as an international authority. His membership on numerous high level boards and panels testifies to this.
Texas Tech is not the first to recognize the achievements of Mr. Hurn. The University of Wisconsin presented to him its Distinguished Service Citation in 1976. In 1968, he was awarded the Department of Interior’s highest award, the Distinguished service Award. He was also named Engineer of the Year in 1968, an award presented by the Bartlesville Chapter of the Oklahoma Society of Professional Engineers. In 1976, he was recipient of the Energy Research and Development Administration’s Special Achievement Award, and in 1977 was named Boss of the Year by the Bartlesville Chapter of the National Secretaries Association. He has provided leadership to the Bartlesville Chamber of Commerce, the Society of Professional Engineers, his Rotary Club as a director, and his church as a ruling elder.
Through exceptional achievement, Richard W. Hurn has brought credit to Texas Tech. The University now seeks to add to his credits by designating him: DISTINGUISHED ENGINEER.