Distinguished Engineer Citations
B.S., Chemical Engineering – 1965
Master of Engineering – 1970
At Time of Nomination in 2014
Kenneth Baker was born in Brownwood, Texas. He grew up in Albany, Texas where he graduated from Albany High School. Baker was proud to be a member of the legendary football team that won the state championship for Albany in both 1960 and 1961. He received the prestigious Eagle Scout award at the age of 16 and enjoyed many years of scouting, both as a teenager and adult.
Baker attended Texas Tech University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering in 1965. After graduation, he joined Celanese Chemical Company at its chemical plant in Pampa, Texas where he was involved in both process plant design and project management. A short time later, he and several colleagues discovered a mutual interest in a graduate degree program that could be completed off campus. They approached the management of several operating companies and a few colleges to explore options for such a program. In response, Texas Tech University and a group of petrochemical companies jointly established an off-campus graduate degree program. Baker obtained the first Master of Engineering degree through this new program in 1970.
Baker worked three years for the United States Environmental Protection Agency at its Research Triangle Park facility in Durham, North Carolina. There, he managed research and development projects on the reduction of air pollution from petrochemical refineries, chemical processes and power plants.
Three years later, Baker made a major career change and became an independent consultant as President of Greene & Associates, Inc., a Dallas-based energy consultancy. He became an acknowledged expert in accident investigations, property damage assessments, business interruption claims, and other incident related matters for the downstream petroleum, natural gas, and petrochemical industries. Baker believed that the enormous variety of professions and jobs in which one can apply an engineering education allowed one to work almost anywhere and contribute to society. Because of his accomplishments, he was recognized as the Dallas Area Outstanding Chemical Engineer in 1982.
In 1989, Baker left Greene to join Muse, Stancil & Co., another Dallas-based energy consultancy, as a vice president and director. There, he met John O’Brien, a fellow chemical engineer.
In February 1993, Baker, along with his business partner John O’Brien, founded Baker & O’Brien, Inc., building it into a highly respected international energy consultancy. Baker & O’Brien, Inc. currently has offices in Dallas, Houston, and London, with clients around the globe. In February 2013, the company received congressional recognition from the United States Congress for 20 years of outstanding service.
Over the last 30 years, Baker has provided damage assessment and business interruption evaluations for almost every major petroleum and petrochemical accident in North America. He has testified in state, federal, district, and U.S. bankruptcy courts, as well as, local and international arbitrations. Baker was a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for 52 years and the American Association of Cost Engineers for 43 years.
Baker was passionate about history and became an avid and sophisticated collector of antique maps. He was fortunate to have traveled all over the world but was always the happiest when he was home at “Baker Ranch.”
Baker was a remarkable man with tremendous integrity, ethics, compassion and humility. He left a lasting impression on all that knew him and loved him. He was a vibrant person with an unwavering spirit. He was the “rock” and there will never be another Ken Baker.
Baker passed away on December 2, 2013, following a courageous battle against cancer. Baker was highly respected by his Baker & O’Brien colleagues, his clients, and his competitors alike. His passing is a loss not only to his family and friends, but also to his many associates in the petroleum, natural gas, and petrochemical industries, as well as, the insurance and legal communities.
Throughout his professional career, Baker always supported his alma mater, Texas Tech University. He continued his commitment to education as a member of the Dean’s Council for the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering. Baker once said, “I would like to be remembered as one who has influenced a life and profession in a positive way. Helping others to achieve their ambitions and dreams is a very rewarding experience. Through a Texas Tech engineering education, one can reach for the sky, achieve anything, but stay grounded in practicality.”
In Baker’s honor, the family has established the “Ken Baker Memorial Chemical Engineering Scholarship Endowment” at Texas Tech University.