- BS Mechanical Engineering 1965
Paul Fernstrum: A Tech Education Proved to be ‘Perfect’
Paul Fernstrum recalls his father, Robert, with fondness and admiration. He says his father was a “self-made man” who started out as a draftsman and ended up a chief design engineer. “The right place. The right time. No college education,” Paul recalls.
His father went on to establish R. W. Fernstrum and Co. in 1950 in Menominee, Michigan. The marine business went from “humble” origins to an industry leader that has engaged three generations of Fernstrums.
Paul, the president, earned a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering in 1965. His father paid his way through school—what Paul calls “the pain of my education”—meaning tuition, room and board, and books. At the time, he was motivated primarily by a sense of responsibility. “I didn’t want to let my folks down.” The education proved to be “perfect.”
Besides education, “tenacity” contributed to his success, as well as a positive attitude. “I look at a problem as an opportunity. If you do that, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.”
In addition to serving on the Michigan Tech Fund Board of Trustees, Paul is a life member of the Alumni Association and a member of the McNair Society, which recognizes those who include Tech in their estate plans.
Paul and his wife, Sandra, support four scholarships at Tech. “A lot of people need just a little encouragement. Hopefully our gift will enable them to get their education and follow their dreams. For a better tomorrow, educate people.”
“Giving is almost like getting an award,” he adds. “You get a lot more back than you give in your time and treasure. It’s easy not to give. It’s easy to do nothing. If you do that, though, this wouldn't be a nice world.”
Paul and his wife have two sons, both of whom went to Tech, and five grandchildren.
Used with permission from the Spring 2010 issue of the Michigan Tech Fund Trustee Link