In Memory of John T. Patton

John T. Patton

We are saddened to announce the passing of John T. Patton, a longtime supporter and former professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. He passed on April 11, 2024, in El Paso, Texas at the age of 92. 

Patton served as a chemical engineering faculty member for 9 years, starting in 1968. He played a definitive early role in the quality of design chemical engineering experiences at Michigan Tech. Within three years his design students started receiving national recognition from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). During his tenure at Michigan Tech, his students twice won the national AIChE Design Contest for undergraduates. Patton also initiated a viable graduate program and elevated the quality of the undergraduate curriculum, which then received full national accreditation.

“John Patton was the ‘father’ of our senior design program in chemical engineering, having taught it for many years at Michigan Tech starting in the early 70s,” says Michael Mullins, chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering. “John then mentored the next two generations of process design professors in Bruce Barna, who was his Ph.D. student, and then Tony Rogers. John’s impact on the chemical engineering department was not only profound, but has lasted for generations—over 50 years!”

In 1977, Patton left Michigan Tech to become Professor and Department Head of Chemical Engineering at New Mexico State University; a position he held until 1989, retiring as professor emeritus in 1994. 

A Fort Worth, Texas, native, Patton earned his BS (1953), MS (1958), and PhD (1959) in Chemical Engineering from Oklahoma State University. He joined Exxon USA as a section head responsible for research on enhanced petroleum operations in 1959. He held progressively responsible positions at Exxon until 1968 when he brought his extensive process design and operations experience to Michigan Tech as a professor of chemical engineering, plant design, and economics. 

Patton founded a design and research corporation, Computer Bio/Engineering Institute Inc. of El Paso, Texas in 1967. As president and chief engineer, he maintained an active consulting practice on the design and operation of a multitude of chemical plants ranging from biosynthesis processes to oil field production facilities.

Patton has 26 patents and over 42 publications in areas of enhanced oil and gas recovery, biosynthesis, and advanced co-generation.

Over the years he remained a strong supporter of Michigan Tech. A major gift endowment from Patton has helped to sustain the Michigan Tech Presidential Scholars Award Program, supporting 84 chemical engineering student recipients to date. He was inducted into the Chemical Engineering Distinguished Academy, and in 2016 he received the Michigan Tech Honorary Alumni Award.

Patton is survived by his wife, Maureen, six children: John, Jr. (Heather) of Angola, IN; Nancy (Jerry Burton) of Palmer, AK; Bob (Anne) of Kalama, WA; Jim (Tracy) of Phelan, CA; David (Anna-Kristina) of Oakton, VA and Carolyn (Royce Brodie) of Ashburn, VA; three step-children: Robin (David Solid) of Woodbury, MN, Heidi (George Nadjek) of Cumming, GA and Andrew F. Green (Jennifer) of Chesterfield, VA; twenty-eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Also surviving are six nieces and a nephew. 

Read John Patton’s obituary.