Top Aggie 100 former student credits chemical engineering professor

It's not every day that a university professor gets to be part of his former student's big day. On Friday, Oct. 22, it happened to Mark Holtzapple, a professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University.Thomas Bieschke, a 1996 graduate of Texas A&M with degrees in petroleum and mechanical engineering, asked Holtzapple to introduce him when he was honored as the top Aggie in the 2010 Aggie 100 during an awards luncheon in The Zone Club at Texas A&M's Kyle Field stadium. The honor recognizes Bieschke for heading the top fastest-growing company among the Aggie 100, a collection of the 100 fastest-growing companies owned or headed by graduates of Texas A&M.Bieschke is chairman and CEO of Caltex Energy, a privately held Calgary, Alberta, Canada-based oil and gas production company he co-founded in 2005. Caltex revenues are expected to be near $146 million in 2010 and $190 million in 2011.Bieschke credits Holtzapple with showing him that he should be an engineer rather than following some other career."Dr. Holtzapple was the first professor who really exposed me to the power of engineering," Bieschke said. "He always did a great job of showing the real-life applications of problem-solving."If Dr. Holtzapple hadn't been my professor, maybe my life would have taken a different path."In 1992, Holtzapple taught the introduction to engineering courses when Bieschke was a freshman."I am honored that Tom remembered me and Engineering 109, and asked me to introduce him," Holtzapple said. "I like to think that his asking me to introduce him is a reflection on the high quality of the engineering education he got at Texas A&M."