Advanced science.  Applied technology.


SwRI’s Walker named Fellow of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

San Antonio — Mar. 03, 2015 — Dr. James D. Walker, an Institute scientist in the Mechanical Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), has been elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

According to AIAA, Fellows are “persons of distinction in aeronautics or astronautics, who have made notable and valuable contributions to the arts, sciences, or technology thereof.” Walker’s Fellow citation reads “for his pioneering analysis, development, and modeling of impact dynamics, penetration mechanics, and materials characterization in response to dynamic loading, with applications in defense and space.” He will be formally recognized at the AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala May 6 in Washington, D.C.

“This acknowledgement by AIAA is just one of many James has received during his tenure at SwRI,” said Danny Deffenbaugh, vice president of SwRI’s Mechanical Engineering Division. “He has made — and continues to make — valuable research contributions to the aerospace community.”

Walker’s research efforts have focused on the mechanical response of a variety of systems and materials to impact loads. Much of his research centers on personnel protection ranging from vests worn by soldiers and police officers, to designs for ground vehicles, the International Space Station, and satellites.

In 2003 Walker and SwRI colleagues were part of a team that helped determine the cause of the space shuttle Columbia accident. Walker authored the chapter “Impact Modeling” in the Report of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. He also performed studies in support of the space shuttle return-to-flight program.

Walker has been a member of AIAA since 1990. Locally, he served as chairman of the Southwest Texas Section. Since then he has been Region IV Technical deputy director and a member of the National Technical Activities Committee (TAC). He has been deputy director of the TAC Space and Missiles Group, chairman and vice-chairman of the Weapons System Effectiveness Technical Committee, and was an AIAA Distinguished Lecturer for nine years. He was director of Region IV and served on the AIAA Board of Directors from 2006–2013. He has received three AIAA Special Service Citations.

This past fall, Walker was named a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). His awards and honors include the Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award for Technology Innovation given by The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST); the ASME Holley Medal for his work in support of the Columbia accident investigation; NASA Group Achievement Awards for work on various aspects of the return-to-flight program and the New Horizons mission to Pluto; and Popular Science’s 2004 list of “Brilliant 10” scientists to watch.

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. Walker is an adjoint faculty member at The University of Texas at San Antonio, where he teaches graduate courses in mechanical engineering and mathematics.

In addition to AIAA and ASME, he is a Fellow of the International Ballistics Society; past president of the Hypervelocity Impact Society; and a member of the American Mathematical Society, the Association for Computing Machinery, the Mathematical Association of America, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

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