Schoch, Eugene Paul, Sr. (1871–1961)

By: Tom Brooks Metcalfe

Type: Biography

Published: July 1, 1995

Updated: February 19, 2019

Eugene Paul Schoch, Sr., engineer, son of Oscar and Jenny (Finck) Schoch, was born in Germany on October 16, 1871. His parents were United States citizens in temporary residence in Berlin and ten years later moved with him to Texas. He grew up on a farm in Geronimo, near Seguin. Much of his early education was received from his parents. He entered the University of Texas shortly after it opened and became its first graduate in civil engineering (1894). After a short experience as surveyor in San Antonio, he earned the M.A. in chemistry at the University of Texas and then the Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Chicago. Returning to Austin, he helped develop the chemistry department at the University of Texas and introduced the concept of faculty research. Early in his career he dedicated his teaching, research, and publications to improvement of life in Texas. He was a registered professional engineer and designed the municipal water-treatment plants for a number of cities around the state. He often served as technical witness in legal proceedings, and his studies in thermodynamics led directly to the legal distinction between oil and gas wells. He was a pioneer in the development of processes to utilize natural gas rather than to dispose of it by flaring, as was a common practice in the early days of the petroleum industry.

Recognizing the need for practical applications of chemical principles, he was instrumental in the institution of the Department of Chemical Engineering at UT (1916), was named its first faculty member, and served as its first head. In 1914 he had been named director of the Chemistry Division of the Bureau of Economic Geology and later established the Bureau of Industrial Chemistry, which he directed. Schoch's publishing activities began in 1903 and have included numerous articles in scientific journals and books, one of which became a popular textbook for college chemistry; originally titled A Course of Lessons and Exercises in General Chemistry (1914), the book was published in 1931 under the title General Chemistry. His interests were not confined to the technical. He was an accomplished violinist, in demand for musical programs, and he organized the University Orchestra and performed in it. Sensing the need for an institutional band, he organized the Longhorn Band in 1900, buying the first instruments with his own funds from local pawn shops. In 1954 the Travis Chapter of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers honored him as "Engineer of the Year." He was a life member of that organization, a forty-year member of American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and a fifty-year member of American Chemical Society, who honored him with their first "Southwest Regional Award" in 1948. He also held memberships in Texas Academy of Sciences, Texas Industrial and Research Council, Cotton Committee of Texas, and American Water Works Association and served as an editor of the Journal of Physical Chemistry. On the ninety-eighth anniversary of his birth, the campus building housing the Chemical Engineering Department was named for him.

Eugene Schoch was strongly family-oriented, the first of three consecutive generations of Phi Beta Kappa members at the university. His marriage on June 14, 1902, to Clara Gerhard, of the pioneer Austin family, resulted in two sons and one daughter, all of whom earned their doctorate degrees. The Schoch-Gerhard House, built in 1887, has been designated a historical landmark by the City of Austin and by the State of Texas. It has been the residence of family members, continuously to the present. Schoch has been described as a "fundamentally religious man who practiced his belief that not only is there no conflict between science and religion but that God is surely directing man's efforts to use the principles of science as a route to a better life for all." He died on August 15, 1961, in Austin.

Howard F. Rase and William A. Cunningham, Chemical Engineering at the University of Texas, 1910–1990 (Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, 1990). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Who's Who in America, 1948–49.

  • Education
  • Educators
  • Sciences, Agriculture, and Engineering
  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Exploration
  • Surveyors and Cartographers

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Tom Brooks Metcalfe, “Schoch, Eugene Paul, Sr.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 30, 2022,

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July 1, 1995
February 19, 2019