2020 Board Profile: Rick Tullis
Q: What led you to Baylor and a degree in mechanical engineering?
A: I knew I wanted to be an engineer in the eighth grade, mainly because of my love for aviation. I applied to Baylor at the urging of my high school best friend who had come to Baylor the year before. When I first visited the campus, I didn’t even know it had an engineering program because the program was still in its infancy when I arrived in 1987. If I remember correctly, in my freshman year, I started with about 90 other engineering students, but my spring graduation class in 1993 only had 11 graduates. The program has grown immensely since that time.
Q: How did your time at Baylor prepare you for your career and some of the business and civic leadership roles you’ve held?
A: Honestly, Baylor was a challenge for me academically, but through the process I never lost my love of engineering. I knew it was what I was supposed to do with my life, however, when I graduated, I wasn’t very confident in my abilities because of my mediocre academic performance. My first job out of school was with an international manufacturer of air conditioning products, and one of the first things they had me do was attend a six-month graduate engineering program with 40 other newly minted engineers from around the country.
It was in this competitive corporate environment that I discovered that my engineering education at Baylor had prepared me as well as any of the others who had come from some of the top engineering schools in the country. I discovered that my undergraduate training at Baylor was equivalent to what others had gotten by getting their graduate degree at other well-known universities. My confidence as an engineer grew tremendously and enabled me to have a great corporate career.
The Baylor experience wasn’t just about what happened in the classroom. It was also a great time to grow my leadership skills and further my walk with Christ.
Q: What does your current work entail and what are some of the most unique and rewarding projects that you’ve been able to work on?
A: I helped start Capstone Mechanical in 2005 with a great group of partners, and I serve in the role of President & CEO. At Capstone we get to work on all types of commercial and industrial HVAC projects throughout Texas, but I have to admit that my favorite projects are the ones we do for Baylor. McLane Stadium was a once- in-a-lifetime project in Waco, but it also was fun renovating Martin Residence Hall where I spent my freshman year. Projects like the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC) are rewarding because of the potential impact it will have for Baylor and the Waco area for generations to come.
At this point in my career, I find the most rewarding “projects” are the ones where I’m investing in others so they can grow into what they’re called to do. We’ve been able to hire many student interns and full-time team members from Baylor over the years, and it’s been great to see them have impactful careers.
Q: As a member of the ECS Board of Advocates, what insights or perspective do you have about the School and its future growth at Baylor?
A: One of my current roles in the community is as the 2020 Chairman of the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce. Because of my service on the ECS Board of Advocates, I’m able to paint the picture for our local business and government leaders to see the enormous potential we have to harness the talent from the ECS program. When I graduated 26 years ago, there may have been a total of 200 engineering students at Baylor. Today there are nearly a thousand, and many of them are in graduate programs doing research that could result in the next new company launch in Waco. We are blessed to have such a vibrant program in our city, so we need to support it at a high level and create more opportunities to retain graduates to stay in Waco.
Q: What does being a part of the Baylor Family mean to your family?
A: I met my beautiful wife, Elizabeth, at Baylor, and we’ve raised our boys in the shadow of the University. Our oldest son is currently a senior at Baylor. My wife works as an adjunct professor in the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences. Baylor is the biggest customer for our company. I work closely with the leadership of the University on a regular basis on community related projects. I think it’s safe to say that my blood runs green and gold. We believe in Baylor’s mission and will do our part to keep it moving forward.