Texas A&M, UT-Austin get $20M each from alumnus
Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin will each receive $20 million to support the mechanical engineering departments at the universities.
The gifts, announced Monday by the Texas A&M Foundation, are from alumnus J. Mike Walker, the co-founder of Dril-Quip, a Houston-based manufacturer of offshore drilling and production equipment. Walker earned a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from UT Austin.
“Mike Walker has made an extraordinary investment in the future of engineering, not only for the University of Texas, but for our state and our nation,” Gregory L. Fenves, president of UT Austin, said in a joint statement with A&M.
“This wonderful act on his part will propel an already stellar mechanical engineering program to new heights in our continual pursuit of excellence and mission to develop leaders who serve the world,” Michael K. Young, president of Texas A&M University said in the statement.
Walker co-founded Dril-Quip in 1981. The company, with divisions in Texas, Scotland, Brazil and Singapore, designs and manufactures subsea, surface and offshore rig equipment for use oil and gas companies and drilling contractors across the globe.
“My experiences at these two universities certainly helped me grow as an engineer,” Walker said. “But they also taught me how to be a leader — how to collaborate on big ideas, persevere through tough challenges and bounce back from failure. My education shaped who I am today, and I want to make that same opportunity available to as many students as I can.”
Walker’s career spanned from work at Exxon Refining, McEvoy and Vetco Offshore, and included a three-year stint teaching engineering mechanics. He retired from Dril-Quip in 2011 after serving as the company’s chairman and CEO.
With Walker’s gifts, researchers at both universities will be able to develop new technologies and students will benefit from greater access to experiential learning and leadership opportunities, said Dunae Crenwelge, a communications manager with the foundation.
“Our students and faculty will benefit tremendously,” Fenves said. “And, because of Mike’s generosity, our mechanical engineering department will continue to expand its reputation as one of the best in the country.”
The mechanical engineering departments at both universities are being renamed in Walker’s honor: the J. Mike Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering at UT Austin and the J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M.