Thomas Baker Slick Jr. – an adventurer, philanthropist and oilman – founded SwRI on a South Texas ranch in 1947. After recruiting talent from across the nation, he challenged his team of scientists and engineers to seek revolutionary advancements through advanced science and applied technology. That spirit lives on today. SwRI endures as one of the oldest, independent nonprofit organizations in the United States, providing innovative science, technology, and engineering services to government and commercial clients around the world.
Founder Tom Slick recruits Harold Vagtborg as the first president to lead scientists and engineers at a 1,200-acre cattle ranch outside San Antonio. SwRI grows from 64 projects to 600 in the first five years, gaining national prominence for automotive testing, environmental research, and radio direction finding. Annual revenues reach $4.5 million by 1957. Martin Goland becomes president in 1959.