When Kermit returned from the war, he accomplished two milestone achievements: he married Katherine Bunkley Brown in 1945 and enrolled at Texas A&M University, where he earned two bachelor of science degrees in mechanical engineering and petroleum engineering in 1948.
After graduation, he joined Stanolind Oil & Gas Company (changed to Amoco, and now BP America Production Company) as a petroleum engineer. He then worked for Garrett Oil Tools, Inc. (now part of U.S. Petroleum Equipment, a division of U.S. Oil Company, Inc.) and was a research engineer for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. But he felt a calling to expand his scholarship and enrolled at the University of Texas (UT) in 1955 as a teaching assistant and graduate student. He earned both his master’s and doctoral degrees from UT and conducted groundbreaking field research that had a long-term influence on the field of artificial lift engineering.
In 1965, as an evaluator for ECPD (Engineers’ Council for Professional Development), now ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology), Kermit visited TU to evaluate its petroleum engineering program. At that time the department did not have a full-time chairman, and Dr. E. T. Guerrero served as both dean and chair. Kermit criticized TU in his report for not having appropriate leadership in its petroleum program. When Guerrero read his comments, he asked Kermit: “Why don’t you provide the leadership?” Kermit took Guerrero up on the challenge and arrived at TU in early 1966 as chairman of the petroleum engineering (PE) department.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Kermit’s arrival changed the PE department at the University of Tulsa forever. He was a bold visionary and a risk taker. In 1966, TU had only three full-time faculty members, fewer than 50 undergraduate students, a fledgling Ph.D. program, and no funded research. Kermit’s first order of business was to initiate a research model that is now mimicked by many other universities. He developed the idea of forming a research consortium, where oil companies contribute a small amount of money every year to the university, and TU faculty and students conduct research that is of interest to the industry.