Montana State University

Two inducted into Professional Engineers Hall of Fame at MSU

November 12, 2003 -- Carol Schmidt

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The late Paul Schmechel of Butte, who was a former president of Montana Power, and Leland J. Walker of Great Falls will be inducted into the Montana Professional Engineers Hall of Fame at the 2003 Joint Engineers Conference to be held in Helena on Nov. 13 and 14. Plaques honoring the inductees will be housed at the Montana State University College of Engineering in Bozeman.

The Montana Professional Engineers Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Montana Society of Engineers to honor Montana engineers who made significant contributions to the development of Montana and the engineering profession.

Schmechel graduated from Montana State College, now MSU in Bozeman, in 1953 with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. After graduation he was hired as a junior engineer with the Montana Power Company. He retired from Montana Power in 1992 after serving as president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board of directors.

Schmechel was the first employee of Western Energy Company, serving as vice president from 1966 to 1976 and president from 1976 to 1982. The Montana Power subsidiary grew into one of America's largest coal producers with operations in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Texas. Schmechel died in 1994.

Walker attended MSC beginning in 1940 and later graduated from Iowa State (College) University in 1944 with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. He founded Northern Testing Laboratories in 1958. His firm has provided geotechnical engineering and materials testing for projects throughout the Northern Rocky Mountain Region, including all units of the Montana University system; major coal mine development projects in the Powder River basin; Montana and Idaho highway and airport projects; and hundreds of government, school and private projects.

Walker is a Fellow in the American Society of Civil Engineers and served as national president from 1976 to 1977. He is a Fellow in the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology and served as national president from 1980 to 1983. He was a co-founder of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Montana. Walker lives in Great Falls.

The Joint Engineers Conference is an annual gathering of engineers from all disciplines and is sponsored by eight professional engineering societies. The 2003 conference will include sessions on seismicity, alternative energy, roadway design, water quality, computer aided design, structural design and construction contract administration. Contact MSU Burns Telecom Center at (406) 994-6683 for more information.

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Contact: Linda Wyckoff (406) 994-2223