Former Cowley student finds success back home
Bengt Pipkorn, who attended Cowley College and was a member of the tennis team during the 1983 season, has gone on to become a successful researcher for the automobile company Autoliv in Vargarda, Sweden.
He began working for Autoliv in Vargarda, Sweden, in 1996 and has been with the company ever since. He currently serves as the Manager of Simulation, Active Structures and Algorithm Development.
The company has over 40,000 employees worldwide. In the United States, the company has workers in Detroit, Michigan and Ogden, Utah.
“We do research in the area of occupant protection,” Pipkorn said. “We supply for the automotive industry and provide protective systems such as air bags and seat belts.”
Prior to beginning his career, Pipkorn heard about Cowley from friends, Johan Ahlqvist and Johan Hallin, who were members of the Tiger tennis team during the 1982 season. Upon their recommendation, he came to Cowley from Sweden in the fall of 1982.
Pipkorn helped the Tigers capture conference and region titles, while also getting an opportunity to compete at the national tournament.
“My college years influenced me very much,” Pipkorn said. “I have a lot of positive memories from my time at Cowley.”
Coming to Arkansas City from Sweden made for a bit of a transition.
“It was very different, everything was new,” Pipkorn said. “I spoke English but not that good.”
Kim and Cynthia Hocker, who were actively involved in Cowley’s “Foster Parent” program, helped make the transition easier for Pipkorn by serving as his “Foster Parents”.
“Coming as I did, not knowing anybody or anything about Ark City, it was great to have people who knew other people in the city,” Pipkorn said.
Along with the Hocker’s, Pipkorn has fond memories of tennis coach Mike Watters and calculus teacher Phil Buchner.
After Cowley, Pipkorn went on to play tennis at Louisiana Tech and majored in mechanical engineering. At Louisiana Tech, Pipkorn led the school to the NCAA Tournament, where they won their first round match before being eliminated.
After graduating from Louisiana Tech, Pipkorn went to Phoenix, AZ. to work on a test track. However, after six months on the job, he decided he wanted to pursue a master’s degree. So, he went back to Chalmers University to obtain his master’s and then continued in school to earn his PhD.
While working on his PhD, Pipkorn helped with the process of developing the side air bags in Volvo’s. He is currently working on a device that would help influence how the vehicle structure reacts in a crash.
Pipkorn came into his current line of work while working on his master’s degree.
“As a researcher you really have to dig into the details of the problem you are trying to solve,” Pipkorn said. “We do research to bring out new products every couple of years.”
As a result of his profession and also as a hobby, Pipkorn has traveled to many places. He has traveled to Australia, Italy, Germany, France, Great Britain, Greece, Switzerland, and Austria.
He enjoys visiting the United States and returned to Ark City and the college in April. With his work bringing him back to the United States, Pipkorn decided to fly in to see his former “Foster Parents”.
Prior to his trip to Ark City, Pipkorn had visited with individuals at the University of Virginia. After spending two days in Ark City he was back in the air heading to Ogden, Utah for business.
This marked the first time Pipkorn had been to Ark City since the early 1990’s.
“The college seems to be prospering and doing very well,” Pipkorn said.
Pipkorn and his wife, Eva, have three children, Linda 16, Jenny 14, and Elin 6. In his free time he enjoys jogging, bicycling, skiing, and also still enjoys playing tennis.