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Chrysta Castañeda and Ricardo Garza with friends and family at the 2017 Women in Energy Awards.
Chrysta Castañeda (middle) has established a scholarship in memory of Ricardo Garza '69 (far right). | Image: Courtesy of Chrysta Castañeda

Chrysta Castañeda did not attend Texas A&M University herself, but she felt the impact of the Aggie spirit when meeting and working alongside Ricardo Garza ’69. Castañeda was motivated by Garza’s unique career to establish a scholarship to honor his legacy and support and inspire petroleum engineering students at Texas A&M.

Garza’s successful career began while he was a student in the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M. He worked two jobs during the semesters, and over summer breaks, he worked on offshore drilling rigs to finance his college education. After graduation, Garza served as a lieutenant on the USS Lewis and Clark nuclear submarine for five years before starting his career in the energy industry.

As a skilled entrepreneur, Garza founded Solo Engineering Inc., where he was CEO for 36 years. During retirement, his heart for service guided him to spend his time mentoring young entrepreneurs to create dozens of successful business ventures. In his free moments, he served as an expert witness in oil and gas litigation.

In 2016, while preparing for what was then one of the largest legal cases of her career, Castañeda selected Garza to testify as an expert witness on behalf of T. Boone Pickens, a well-known figure in the oil and gas industry.

“Garza used his incredible analytical talents to help companies in litigation over oil and gas rights,” Castañeda said.

At the trial, Garza shared his knowledge by creating 3D models as a visual aid for jurors and others involved to understand the technical details of the case. With his expertise, Castañeda and Pickens won the trial after five weeks of intense deliberation.

Castañeda’s interactions with Garza inspired her not only to author a book detailing the events of the trial but to establish a scholarship at Texas A&M in his honor. The Ricardo E. Garza ’69 Petroleum Ventures Program Endowed Scholarship will provide opportunities for petroleum engineering students within the Petroleum Ventures Program (PVP).

I hope this endowment will broaden the horizons of budding engineers to realize how useful their degrees can be to a variety of pursuits.

Chrysta Castañeda

PVP combines business-finance concepts with the technical knowledge of petroleum engineering to prepare students for a variety of opportunities in the energy industry. The program sets Aggie petroleum engineers apart by giving them unparalleled exposure to business concepts, entrepreneurship, industry leaders and case-based learning opportunities.

In honoring her friend and colleague, Castañeda inspires petroleum engineers to set out of their comfort areas and gain an understanding of the various avenues available to them in the energy industry. Just as selfless service was at the core of Garza’s life, his memory and legacy will continue to impact the lives of future leaders in the energy industry.

How To Give

Endowments supporting students in the college have an immeasurable impact on their education. If you are interested in supporting the College of Engineering and its departments or would like more information on how you can give, please contact one of our development officers.