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SwRI's Walker awarded ASME Holley Medal

San Antonio -- October 13, 2005 -- Dr. James D. Walker, a staff scientist in the Mechanical and Materials Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), is the 2005 recipient of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Holley Medal. Walker will receive the award during the ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition, to be held November 5-11 in Orlando, Fla.

The ASME is a 120,000-member professional organization focused on technical, education and research issues of the engineering and technology community. The Holley Medal, established in 1924 in honor of Alexander L. Holley, is awarded to an individual in "recognition of a great or unique act of an engineering nature, which accomplishes a great and timely public benefit." Previous recipients include Henry Ford, Vannevar Bush, Edwin Land and Jack Kilby, among others.

Walker was honored "for timely and accurate impact analysis and testing of insulating foam striking tile and leading edge components of the thermal protection system in support of the Space Shuttle Columbia accident investigation for the Columbia Accident Investigation Board and NASA." His detailed analysis can be found in Volume 2 of the Report of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.

SwRI engineers contributed significantly to the accident investigation, including recreating the impact scenario that occurred when a piece of insulating foam broke off the external fuel tank during launch.

Walker joined the staff of SwRI in 1988. An expert in impact physics, Walker's interests include the mechanical response of systems and materials. He has performed research in wave propagation, plasticity, fracture and failure of metals, composites and ceramics. His work includes and often combines large-scale numerical simulations, analytical techniques and experiments. In 2004, Popular Science named him one of the "Brilliant 10" young researchers in the country for his work in impact physics.

The author of more than 100 papers and publications, Walker holds bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in mathematics from the University of Utah, and is a member of a number of professional engineering and scientific societies, including ASME.

Editors: A photo of Dr. James D. Walker is available at

For more information, contact Deborah Deffenbaugh, Communications Department, (210) 522-2046, Southwest Research Institute, PO Drawer 28510, San Antonio, TX 78228-0510.

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