Three men with extremely successful but vastly different career paths were recognized in May by the institution that helped set the foundation for their achievements. Harold Finch, Tom Jones and Jim Remsberg received the University of Kansas School of Engineering’s highest honor, the Distinguished Engineering Service Award. The ceremony was May 9 at the Kansas Union Ballroom.
The School of Engineering Advisory Board has given the Distinguished Engineering Service Award annually since 1980. The award honors KU engineering alumni or engineers who have maintained a close association with the university and for outstanding contributions to the profession of engineering and society.
“Our alumni make amazing contributions to society and the world,” said Stan Rolfe, interim dean of the KU School of Engineering. “These three engineers – Harold Finch, Tom Jones and Jim Remsberg – have had a tremendous influence on our lives and the lives of those around us. Whether they worked to provide health care solutions that enable people to breathe more easily, helped provide energy to a expanding populace, or protected astronauts and educated future leaders, we are proud to know they found inspiration and their foundation at KU.”
The award is given on the basis of an individual’s contribution to the theories and practices of engineering, research and development in new fields of engineering or direction of an organization that has made exceptional contributions in design, production and development.
About the recipients
A look at Harold Finch’s career shows remarkable expertise in various professions. He developed a method to keep astronauts safe from the vast temperature swings in outer space and enable humans to land safely on the moon. He served as a U.S. Air Force intelligence officer conducting top-secret studies and analyses of potential enemies, including research on UFOs. He played a key role in launching and managing Johnson County Community College in Overland Park. He founded two successful businesses. He started and funded a foundation that sponsored humanitarian projects in underdeveloped countries. He served as the inspiration and executive producer for “Unlimited,” a film starring former Sen. Fred Thompson as Finch, to be released later this year.
Finch has also given thousands of hours of his time – pro bono – to spread a message of setting lofty goals and maximizing potential. Each lecture mixes in a touch of Jayhawk pride.
Finch graduated from the KU in 1956 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and an ROTC commission as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. In 1961, he earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from The Ohio State University, and received a doctorate in education from KU in 1971.
He lives with his wife, Peggy, in Lee’s Summit, Mo.
Tom Jones earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from KU in 1967 and then spent his career applying engineering principles and techniques to achieve great heights in a home health care revolution that shortened hospital stays and eased the financial burden for patients and their families.
Jones spent more than 20 years at Puritan-Bennett Corporation – a company that dealt with medical gases and eventually became a worldwide leader in the home oxygen market – working his way up the ranks to vice president and general manager.
The products developed under Jones’ guidance were innovative for the home care industry. They moved medical care from the high-cost environment of the hospital to the lower costs of the home, and made it easier for patients to return home in a shorter period of time. His career was marked by several noteworthy contributions, including improving and lengthening the lives of hundreds of thousands of chronically ill people and helping create thousands of jobs.
Jones joined CHAD Therapeutics as its CEO in 1998 and helped re-establish the oxygen conservation firm as an industry leader providing mobile respiratory solutions for individuals. He retired from CHAD in 2008.
Jones has also maintained strong ties to KU, having served on the School of Engineering Advisory Board since 1991. He’s also provided valuable resources to the School of Engineering as a member of the Engineering Deans Club of KU Endowment.
He and his wife, Kay, live in Prairie Village.
Jim Remsberg has an unwavering commitment to the University of Kansas School of Engineering and a palpable passion for engineering education. The 1957 petroleum engineering graduate has remained close with the school throughout a 50-plus year career in the oil industry.
Remsberg started his career at Continental Oil Co. – the predecessor of Conoco – working in all phases of petroleum production, including reservoir engineering and enhanced recovery. In 1966, he moved to Slawson Companies Inc., where he assumed management responsibilities for all drilling, production, completion and reservoir activities required for nearly 1,000 company and outside-operated wells.
In 1989, Remsberg founded Argent Energy Inc., where he currently serves as president and CEO. Remsberg provides technical support for the acquisition, exploration and operation of oil and gas producing properties.
Remsberg has also dedicated significant time and energy to advancing the goals of the KU School of Engineering and in helping engineering students learn and grow during their time on campus. Remsberg has served on the School of Engineering Advisory Board since 1993 and is a longtime member of the KU Endowment Deans Club in support of the KU School of Engineering. He is a professional engineer, licensed in Kansas, and a lifetime member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers.
He and his wife, Sandy, live in Wichita.