The Southwest Research Institute celebrates 75 years of scientific research


When Tom Slick Jr. started Essar Ranch in 1947 to apply scientific breeding methods to animal production, Harry Truman was President of the United States, a gallon of gas was less than a quart and Ted Weems’ “Heartaches” was playing on the radio.

Seventy-five years later, the Southwest Research Institute, as it is now known, has become a mainstay of the Texas scientific research community and a major employer in the San Antonio area.

The institute celebrated its 75th anniversary on Monday with several ceremonies at its 1,500-acre campus over the city. Western coast.

Since its inception, the institute has played a crucial role in scientific research related to space exploration, establishing better manufacturing processes and optimizing the use of clean energy, said the president and CEO. institute director, Adam Hamilton.

Today, the institute is working to advance machine learning and artificial intelligence, build the world’s largest mobile robot system, and reduce carbon emissions.

“Our headquarters is here in San Antonio… [and we] operate much like the San Antonio culture – we are a very collaborative organization, building collaborations between industry competitors,” Hamilton told the San Antonio report. “We are ideally positioned geographically and culturally to take advantage of [international] relationships and to continue to build these types of collaborations.

In a press release commemorating the anniversary, Hamilton said the spirit of the institute’s founder lives on at the institute in its scientists.

Slick “challenge a small team of scientists and engineers to use their skills to achieve groundbreaking advances that benefit humanity,” Hamilton said. “As one of the oldest, largest and most diverse independent nonprofit organizations in this country, SwRI continues to meet Tom’s challenge to pursue research that makes our world a better place.”

Slick’s vision

Slick, a Texas oilman, inventor, and philanthropist, named Essar Ranch after a phonetic abbreviation of the first initials of the phrase “scientific research.”

In 1947, oilman, inventor, and philanthropist Tom Slick Jr. started Essar Ranch, dedicated to scientific animal production. Credit: Courtesy/Southwestern Research Institute

Then located on the western edge of San Antonio, Essar Ranch was known for its innovations in livestock nutrition and its success with artificial breeding. By this point, Slick had already founded what is now the Texas Biomedical Research Institute and the Mind Science Foundation, which still operate in San Antonio.

“Slick saw that scientific advances made by the military during World War II could benefit a peacetime America, but the momentum had to be maintained in a post-war economy,” the institute said. in its press release. “He sought to place San Antonio alongside other cities where independent research and development organizations were being established.”

In its first five years, the institute grew from 64 projects to 600 and gained national prominence for its work in the automotive, environmental and direction finding sectors. All of these technologies remain active research topics at the institute.

Develop research capabilities

Today, the institute employs nearly 3,000 people across the United States, most of whom are residents of San Antonio. Although based in San Antonio, the institute also has satellite offices in Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah.

Since its founding, the institute has expanded its research capabilities to explore space research, energy, ocean engineering, emissions and materials research, according to the press release.

The institute sees itself as a leader in many areas of research, including power and energy efficiency, geosciences, turbomachinery, automated driving systems, hypersonics, fire research and testing, advanced power cycles, energy storage and more, the statement said.

Hamilton told the San Antonio report that the institute also acts as a scientific gateway between the United States and countries in Central and South America.

“We recently signed a collaborative research agreement with Monterrey University of Technology [in Mexico]and really hope to foster those relationships,” he said.

Its engineers were instrumental in improving the Alvin research submersible’s deep-dive capability and in identifying the cause of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the press release said.

Institute scientists lead many NASA space projects, including the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, the Juno mission to Jupiter, the New Horizons mission to Pluto and beyond, the recently launched Lucy spacecraft, and the upcoming PUNCH mission.

As he and his staff express pride in the institute’s current situation, Hamilton said he is also optimistic about the institute’s next 75 years.

Hamilton said he hopes to see the institution continue to thrive as a non-profit organization and hopes contributors will continue to see value in the institute’s work.

“[I hope] that the value of the nonprofit is truly recognized and celebrated,” he said. “As an ownerless, non-profit organization, it’s really our responsibility to make sure that we’re able to provide the expensive, expensive infrastructure that can benefit all of the different industries, to help them accelerate the development of technologies to solve the most difficult problems for humanity.”

The Texas Biomedical Research Institute financially supports the San Antonio report. For a complete list of member companies, click here.

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