Cockrell School of Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin

Head shot of Dr. Kermit E. Brown.

“Teaching has been my main objective most of my life,” said Dr. Kermit Brown during his recognition as a Legend of Production and Operations in the SPE Journal of Petroleum Technology in 2009.  “It is something that I have enjoyed more than anything else I have done.”

 Known internationally as a leader in artificial lift technologies and a pioneer of the industry-supported research consortia model in the petroleum engineering discipline, Brown enjoyed a long career in academia as well as service to the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

After completing his WWII service as a pilot, Brown attended Texas A & M University, graduating with a double major in Petroleum and Mechanical Engineering in 1948.  He began working for Stanolind Oil & Gas in Louisiana before beginning his graduate studies in petroleum engineering at UT PGE.  A contemporary of fellow UT PGE Distinguished Alumnus Dr. Ben Caudle, Brown joined the UT PGE faculty as an assistant professor in 1955, and became associate professor before moving to Tulsa in 1966 to become professor and chair of the Petroleum Engineering Department at The University of Tulsa.  Later in his career, he became Associate Dean of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, and eventually Vice President of Research and Chairman of the Resources Engineering Division.

When he joined the TU Petroleum Engineering faculty, Brown faced a department with only three full-time faculty, 50 undergraduate students, and a fledgling doctoral program with no research funding.  Brown’s leadership over the years resulted in the development of one of the earliest industry research consortia in petroleum engineering—focused on drilling technologies—which grew from just a handful of companies to over 10 different consortia conducting millions of dollars of research every year.  Brown also established TU’s Honors Petroleum Engineering undergraduate program and one of the earliest high school recruiting outreach programs in the engineering world.  Again, Brown secured industry support for scholarships and internships while presenting with other TU faculty at some 50 high schools throughout northeastern Oklahoma.

Among his many publications on gas-lift technology, Brown was most well known for his book, The Technology of Artificial Lift Methods–Volume 4: Production Optimization of Oil and Gas Wells by Nodal Systems Analysis as one of the most important efforts in which he was involved. The book is still being used by the industry as well as by many students. 

Brown was an active SPE member from the 1960s, serving on numerous committees and eventually the SPE Board of Directors during 1970–71.  Brown’s many honors include the SPE John Franklin Carll Award and SPE Distinguished Member in 1983, and SPE Honorary Member in 1990.  He was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 1987, the year he retired from his faculty position at Tulsa.  Dr. Kermit Brown passed away in 2009; he was followed by wife Katherine in July 2012, and is survived by his daughter, Sandi Kay and three sons, Stephen, Michael and David, as well as eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren.


Contact Catherine Campbell at 512-471-3208