Alumnus Kelcy Warren credits UT Arlington's civil engineering program for his professional success. And what a career—he started an energy company and a record label and owns homes throughout the world, including an 8,000-acre exotic animal ranch near Austin.
Warren considered himself an average student until civil engineering Professor Syed Qasim encouraged him.
"He recognized my talent and helped me be a better student, a better person," Warren said.
Dr. Qasim became Warren's mentor through a National Science Foundation program designed primarily for students with high grade averages. Qasim convinced the engineering faculty of Warren's talent regardless of his grades, which allowed Warren to conduct research through the summer program. His project won the top award.
Warren wanted to give something back to his alma mater, so he established an endowment in 1997 and most recently challenged the Civil and Environmental Engineering Advisory Committee in a fundraising effort. He pledged to match up to $75,000 raised by the group’s members.
"Dr. Qasim was good to me," he said. "One of the reasons I support the University is that it has professors like him who take a personal interest in students."
Qasim's influence launched Warren toward success as a pipeline design engineer in Dallas, beginning with Lone Star Gas Co. after graduation in 1978. Within about two years, he took a position with Endevco, a small energy development company.
"I wanted to be rich," he said as he chuckled. "It was clear at Lone Star that it would be hard to accomplish the goals I had set for myself."
He soon became president of Endevco and moved from working as a civil engineer into the commercial aspect of energy development. In 1996 he started Energy Transfer Partners.
Warren's dad introduced him to the energy business in East Texas. His father worked with Sun Pipeline, and young Kelcy worked with him as a welder's assistant for several summers.
Those early years and his UT Arlington experience helped Warren realize his career objectives. And he has gone a step beyond by establishing Syren Records, a label focused on progressive country music.
"Music is my passion," he said. "But I should call it money-pit records because I haven't had the time to spend building it like I really want to."
Instead, he has taken the time to help the University build a stronger civil engineering program.
— Kim Pewitt-Jones