The gifts will support teaching and research in the two departments, funding fellowships and professorships that can be used to recruit faculty, as well as facility renovations and programs for undergrads. In recognition of the gifts, the departments will be renamed 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.
Walker has strong ties to both universities, having earned a bachelor's degree and PhD in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M and a master's degree in mechanical engineering from UT Austin. After many years working for Exxon, both before and after earning his doctorate, Walker co-founded offshore drilling equipment manufacturer Dril-Quip. He also taught engineering mechanics at Texas A&M for three years while pursuing his PhD and has been recognized as a distinguished alumnus of the two departments that now bear his name.
"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," said UT Austin president Gregory L. Fenves. "Our students and faculty will benefit tremendously. And, because of Mike's generosity, our mechanical engineering department will continue to expand its reputation as one of the best in the country."
"I thank Mike Walker on behalf of a most grateful Texas A&M University and Aggies present and future for this amazing gift," said Texas A&M president Michael K. Young. "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."