November 16, 2021 — Dr. Ben Thacker, P.E., has been named vice president of Southwest Research Institute’s Mechanical Engineering Division. Thacker previously served as executive director of the division’s Materials and Fluids Engineering Departments.
“I am deeply honored to be entrusted with this responsibility and feel incredibly grateful to SwRI and its leadership team for the many ways they have advanced my career,” Thacker said.
As vice president, Thacker will oversee a staff of more than 300, working in five research departments: Engineering Dynamics, Fluids Engineering, Machinery, Materials Engineering and Structural Engineering.
“The autonomy afforded those who take technical risks, collaborate and work hard to satisfy our clients is the most rewarding part about working at SwRI,” Thacker said. “I am extremely proud of SwRI, and I am grateful to have found this place 33 years ago.”
During his SwRI career, Thacker has significantly contributed to a wide range of projects providing support to Institute clients such as NASA, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and the Naval Air Warfare Center. He was a key contributor to the NASA Probabilistic Structural Analysis Methods for Select Space Propulsion System Components project, which led to the development of the NESSUS® probabilistic analysis software. He is currently working with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) to develop standards for verification, validation, and uncertainty quantification for large-scale numerical simulations.
Thacker holds a doctorate from The University of Texas at Austin, a master’s from the University of Connecticut and a bachelor’s from Iowa State University, all in civil engineering. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Texas. In 2017, Thacker was inducted as a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).
In addition to his service to SwRI, Thacker is active in several professional organizations, including AIAA, ASME, TMS (The Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society), and the National Society of Professional Engineers. Thacker is a member of two engineering honor societies: Tau Beta Pi and Chi Epsilon. He has served on many international and national scientific panels, committees, and conferences.