Stephen Bechtel, Sr. ’18

Stephen Bechtel

Stephen Bechtel Sr. was the second son of Warren A. Bechtel, the founder of the Bechtel Corporation, and the president of the company from 1933 through 1960. After graduating from Tech, he served as motorcycle dispatch rider with the 20th Engineers during World War I. Upon returning to the States he studied engineering at UC Berkeley, but dropped out during his junior year to join the family construction business. At age 33 Bechtel became company president when his father died suddenly, and at a critical time for the company: concrete was being poured for the Hoover Dam, Bechtel’s largest project up till that point and the largest public works project in U.S. history.

Cartoon from The Scribe, 1917

Stephen saw the company through the successful completion of the Hoover Dam, and over the next thirty years, he expanded Bechtel into a huge and successful engineering company with operations all over the world. His motto was His motto, was “We’ll build anything for anybody, no matter what the location, type or size.”

Stephen handed the presidency of the company over to his son, Stephen Jr. in 1960, but stayed on as the chairman until 1969. Time Magazine named Stephen Bechtel one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.