Walter D. Downing, P.E., is the executive vice president and Chief Operating Officer of Southwest Research Institute, and is a member of the Board of Directors. He directs the operations of the Institute’s technical divisions and oversees internal research, capital equipment, and other resources and services. He is also serves on the Boards of Signature Science, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southwest Research Institute, and Tianjin SwARC Automotive Research Laboratory Co., Ltd., a joint venture company of China Automotive Technical & Research Center and Southwest Research Institute.
Downing holds a master’s of business administration degree from The University of Texas at San Antonio, and a bachelor’s of science degree in electrical engineering from Southern Methodist University. He received executive education certificates in management from MIT Sloan School of Management and The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business. Downing is a registered professional engineer in both Texas and Florida.
Prior to joining SwRI, Downing worked in the petrochemical division of Brown & Root, Inc., where he designed process instrumentation and control systems. Downing joined Southwest Research Institute as a senior research engineer and advanced through the technical management ranks as a manager, director, and vice president. Of note, he designed and developed an automated system for reliability testing of missile subsystems. He introduced a new technical program area at the Institute that evolved into the field of automated testing of aircraft electronics. SwRI gained national recognition for work in the field of reliability and maintainability improvements of legacy aircraft systems for the U.S. Air Force while under Downing’s leadership.
Downing is a life senior member of the Institute and Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He is actively engaged in several IEEE activities including the Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society (AESS), Member and Geographic Activities Region 5, the Lone Star Section, and IEEE-USA. He supports IEEE educational activities as an ABET Engineering Accreditation Commission program evaluator, AESS professional mentor, and member of the IEEE Eta Kappa Nu honor society. He also serves on several university and civic advisory boards.