In Memoriam: Paul R. Beswick ’57, WPI Trustee

The entrepreneur, WPI trustee, and dedicated supporter of his alma mater died Aug. 15
August 19, 2010

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Paul R. Beswick ’57, entrepreneur, member of the WPI Board of Trustees, and a dedicated supporter of his alma mater, died Sunday, Aug. 15.

“Paul Beswick was an exemplary entrepreneur, innovator, and philanthropist, and an inspiration to those who were fortunate to know him,” said WPI President Dennis D. Berkey. “Paul’s legacy at WPI will live on through his son, ChanLing, a senior at the university, his wife, S.K., who will always be part of the WPI family, and his generous investments in our faculty and students.”

Known as an innovator, Beswick was the founder of Beswick Engineering, which he led as president and CEO starting in 1968. Under his leadership, Beswick Engineering grew from a small engineering consulting firm to an industry leader, known for developing innovative applications and serving dozens of high-tech and medium-tech fields. The company, which makes miniature pneumatic devices, has developed more than 50 products based on proprietary designs and earned more than a dozen patents.

Recognized as a leader in the miniature fluid power industry, Beswick Engineering received Product Design & Development magazine’s Engineering Silver Award and was a runner up in Design News magazine’s Golden Mousetrap Awards. Beswick Engineering, headquartered in Greenland, N.H., with a branch office in Singapore, has worked with a variety of industries, including aerospace, biotechnology, bomb detection, fuel cells, and robotics. Beswick's wife, S.K., serves as operations manager. The Beswicks’ son, ChanLing, is a senior at WPI and a mechanical engineering major, like his father.

Beswick frequently credited his success to WPI. He often spoke about coming to the university as a young man who was unclear about his future and the direction he wanted to take, and also unable to afford a college education. He described WPI as giving him not only the opportunity to earn a college education, but also the tools, experience, and self-confidence to take that education and turn it into success. Beswick was heavily influenced by Professor Fred Webster, head of WPI’s Heat-Power Program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering during the 1950s. In Professor Webster, he found an expert in his field and a skilled educator, as well as an intent listener who knew how to draw his out students and inspire them to achieve beyond expectation.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from WPI, Beswick worked for six years in the aerospace industry developing ultra-top-secret reconnaissance cameras for orbiting satellites. In that setting, at the time of the Cuban missile crisis and when national defense and security were at considerable risk, he was assigned expansive mechanical design responsibilities. These challenges helped to reveal Beswick’s innovative and creative talents and perhaps even helped him find the confidence to start Beswick Engineering.

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Paul Beswick exemplified the WPI ideals of teamwork, pride, and support—words that are posted on the walls at Beswick Engineering as reminders of the company’s, and its founder’s, core values. These values are also at the heart of the Paul R. Beswick Professorship in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, established by Paul and S.K. in 2008. In establishing this professorship, the Beswicks hoped to give other students the same experience Paul had as a student—the opportunity to be inspired by a world-class scholar and teacher. Their generosity made it possible for WPI to attract such a scholar and teacher in Frank Hoy, who was installed at a ceremony honoring the Beswicks in November 2009.

The Beswick Professorship is the most recent milestone in a long tradition of generous support from the Beswicks. In 1995, they became members of the Presidential Founders, recognizing those who have achieved $100,000 or more in lifetime giving to WPI. Beswick was also a member of the President’s Circle, the university’s leadership group of annual donors, and the Alden Society, established to recognize those who have generously provided for WPI in their estate plans.

In addition to his philanthropy at WPI, Beswick gave much of his time and expertise to the university. He had served on the advisory board for WPI’s Collaborative for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) since 1997 and was a guest entrepreneur for a number of CEI programs. In October 2009, he was named to the WPI Board of Trustees.

Equally generous to his local community, Beswick also served as a trustee at Berwick Academy and was a Town of Newington (N.H.) Trustee of Trust Funds. He was a member of the University of New Hampshire College of Engineering and Physical Sciences Mechanical Engineering Advisory Board, and a former chair of the Board of Governors for South Church (Unitarian Universalist) in Portsmouth, N.H. Beswick was a lifetime member of MENSA and a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.