In 2017, professional engineer Matt McKain (BS ’99), PE, LEED AP was named an associate principal of MPW Engineering in Tulsa, a mechanical, electrical, plumbing, refrigeration and fire protection firm serving commercial, governmental and industrial clients. With 18 years of MPW experience, McKain assumes a new ownership and leadership role involving the management of seven teams of professional engineers and mechanical designers.
“We work directly with architects and other structural and civil engineers on a building’s design,” he said. “Half of our company does the lighting and power and the other half designs the HVAC and plumbing systems.”
MPW services also include fire protection systems and refrigeration systems for walk-ins and cases used by commercial retailers such as Walmart and Target. “We go in and make the building work,” McKain said. “We design everything in it including the lighting, electrical, thermal comfort and life safety features.” McKain is responsible for hiring employees, assigning team projects and writing proposals.
“I utilize a lot of courses I took at TU — thermofluids, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics — concepts I use daily in calculations,” he said.
The mechanical engineering alumnus began his career at MPW before pursuing a couple of different opportunities such as the creation of his own firm. After selling his shares to business partners in 2009, McKain rejoined MPW.
“It’s a company that’s always been my home and one that I wanted a partnership in,” he said. “As an associate principal, now I get more of the business side that I used to do when I ran my own company.”
McKain’s background in machine design and the hands-on application of building a project are the driving forces behind his engineering career. Mechanically inclined since childhood, he was racing motorcycles by the age of 10 and built his first car from scratch at 15.
“I started racing pro-stock cars at 18,” he said. “Building stuff was just always what I had known and done.”
McKain is the first person in his family to earn a college degree, and although his father never received an official engineering education, he greatly influenced McKain’s life and career.
“My father was the smartest man I ever met, and he is the one who taught me how to build motorcycles and cars,” he said. “He fueled my curiosity to always want to know how things worked when I was young.”
His success as an engineer and leader also can be credited to longtime TU mechanical engineering faculty John Henshaw and Steven Tipton. The sound advice and mentorship he received at TU is something he tries to share with other alumni and engineers at MPW.
“Take each opportunity as it comes along, and excel at whatever chance you’re given,” he said. “The harder you work, the more opportunities will come along. I didn’t plan on being where I am for two decades, but it’s been great.”
McKain enjoys spending time with his family, camping, hiking, hunting, dog training and spending time outdoors.