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 of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a member of IEEE Eta Kappa Nu. He is an IEEE ABET program evaluator. For the IEEE Aerospace and Electronics Systems Society, he serves on the Board of Governors, is vice president of Technical Operations, and chair of the Central Texas Section Joint Chapter. He is vice president of Technical Operations of the IEEE Systems Council and serves on the IEEE AUTOTESTCON Board of Directors. He is a member of the UTSA College of Engineering Advisory Council, the UTSA College of Business Advisory Council, and St. Mary’s University Board of Trustees and is the chair of the St. Mary’s Audit and Ethics Committee. He is chairman of the BioMed SA Board of Directors and is a member of the Free Trade Alliance San Antonio Board of Directors. He recently began a two-year term as president of the IEEE Aerospace and Electronics Systems Society.