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Southwest Research Institute



SwRI is an independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization specializing in the creation and transfer of technology.

SwRI is operated by an executive staff of a president, one executive vice president, and 12 divisional and administrative vice presidents, and is overseen by a board of directors and approximately 110 trustees.

Located in San Antonio, one of the nation’s most historic cities, SwRI covers more than 1,200 acres that includes over 2 million square feet of laboratories, workshops and offices. SwRI has extended its efforts beyond San Antonio and now has staff members working in 15 states, China, and the United Kingdom. No matter what your area of technical competence, your career goals can be met at SwRI. Not only will you work with some of the top scientists, engineers and professionals in your field, you can explore complex, innovative projects to expand your knowledge and discover your true interests in areas such as automotive engineering, space
exploration, software engineering and communications technology.

SwRI has 12 technical divisions cooperating in multidisciplinary approaches to problem solving. Research areas include:

  • Automation, Robotics, and Intelligent Systems
  • Avionics and Support Systems
  • Ballistics and Explosion Hazards
  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
  • Corrosion and Electrochemistry
  • Emissions Research
  • Engine Research and Development
  • Engineering Mechanics
  • Environmental and Health Sciences
  • Fire Technology
  • Fluid Systems and Machinery Dynamics
  • Fracture Mechanics
  • Fuels and Lubricants
  • Space Science and Engineering
  • Marine Technology
  • Materials Sciences
  • Nondestructive Evaluation
  • Nuclear Safety and Waste Disposal
  • Pipeline Technology
  • Training Systems and Simulators


Southwest Research Institute and its staff actively support community service activities in San Antonio and surrounding communities as well as at SwRI off-site locations across the United States. Each year SwRI staff members participate in a variety of programs for area schools, colleges and universities, and other community organizations. In 2008, SwRI's employee campaign raised nearly $530,000 for United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County. In addition to monetary contributions, staff members volunteered their time to help refurbish facilities at the St. Peter-St. Joseph Children's Home, which provides residential care to abused, neglected, abandoned and homeless children. The Research Recreation Association Benevolence Committee, an SwRI volunteer group, organizes several events that benefit the community such as blood drives and fund-raising activities for a variety of organizations including the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the American Heart Association and the March of Dimes. Since 1994, SwRI engineers have served as volunteers and mentors for the annual SA BEST (San Antonio Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) competition, in which area high school students and mentors from local businesses team for six weeks to design and build remote-controlled robots that compete in a robot-to-robot competition. SwRI is a proud sponsor of the event. For 16 years, SwRI has been a host for the Young Engineers and Scientists (YES) Program, which offers high school students a real-world research experience. The three-week program includes presentations and facility tours given by staff members, as well as student-run projects. Participants continue their research project during the school year under the mentorship of a SwRI scientist or engineer. SwRI staff members also routinely serve as mentors, speakers and science fair judges for area schools. In addition, more than 100 high school and college students work in student positions and internships throughout the Institute. Internships offer students an opportunity for hands-on, real world experience. Each year two outstanding students receive the Martin Goland Scholarship, which was established for eligible children of staff members. The tuition scholarship is renewable up to four years. In addition to the Martin Goland scholarship, SwRI is a Trinity University “Business Affiliate.” The Trinity University Business Affiliates program is a distinguished group of corporate supporters who make unrestricted gifts to the university's Annual Campaign. These annual gifts are used exclusively to provide scholarship and financial aid to outstanding young women and men.

Career Opportunities

Southwest Research Institute is continually adding career-oriented staff members to meet the needs of expanding research programs. Increasingly recognized as an international center of
excellence in applied research, SwRI employs highly skilled and trained personnel.

With more than a half-century of success in research and development, SwRI offers variety, growth and experience. Working with an extensive clientele, you’ll have opportunities to participate in some of the leading research projects in the nation. Be part of the effort to better mankind through technology transfer, application and advancement. Determine your career’s direction as you cross technical boundaries to work in varied fields of technology and grow in expertise while directing your own projects. If this is where you want to go, SwRI will help you get there.

SwRI offers more than a career and opportunities to grow. When you become a part of SwRI, our needs and the needs of your family are met through a comprehensive benefits package that includes:

  • Medical and dental insurance
  • Retirement plans with non-matching employer contributions to your account
  • Paid time-off programs
  • Various supplemental insurance plans
  • Wellness programs at work
  • Insurance plans effective on your first day
  • Continuing education benefits and more…
Our salaries are competitive with industry and labor markets. Employee satisfaction makes SwRI one of the top employers in San Antonio. For more detailed information, please visit our website at

Our HIstory

Southwest Research Institute is the realization of a Texas wildcatter's dream. Thomas Baker Slick Jr., an oilman-rancher-philanthropist, founded SwRI in 1947. Slick's vision of an internationally known scientific research center in San Antonio, Texas, took root with his donation of a ranchland site west of the city -- where Institute operations are still carried out. Slick challenged a group of pioneer scientists and engineers from around the nation to move to the new center to seek revolutionary advancements in many areas by developing and applying technology.

Harold Vagtborg, a highly regarded research administrator, accepted Slick's invitation to become president in 1948. Vagtborg helped lead efforts in automotive testing, environmental research, and radio direction finding, which have remained important areas of research. Gross revenues exceeded $4.5 million in 1957. In 1959, Martin Goland assumed SwRI leadership as President, guiding the organization through many years of rapid growth. The Institute's research program expanded to include microencapsulation, space research, field services for the oil and gas industry, ocean engineering, nondestructive testing, emissions and materials research, and much more.

Goland, SwRI president for 37 years, died in 1997, having led one of the most prosperous periods in Institute history. At the time of his death, the Institute had reached gross revenues of $270 million. Today's staff is led by President J. Dan Bates, who took office in November 1997. Bates leads more than 3,300 scientists, engineers, and support personnel in the conduct of almost 1,500 nationally and internationally sponsored projects each year.


More than 3,300 scientists, engineers, and support staff from diverse backgrounds provide creative solutions to tough problems while working in modern facilities using state-of-the-art equipment. During more than 50 years of operation, Southwest Research Institute has grown from a single building to almost 100 major facilities exceeding 1.5 million square feet of laboratories, workshops, test facilities, and offices.

SwRI employees hold excellent qualifications, combined with a keen understanding of the applied research and development process and the responsibilities of client service. These strengths have contributed to Southwest Research Institute's national and international accomplishments.

Technical capabilities are augmented by a video teleconference center and by the Thomas Baker Slick Memorial Library, which houses more than 45,000 books, 92,500 volumes of periodicals, and 150,700 technical reports.

SwRI supports its employees and their families with a wide range of services and recreational facilities. These include recreational sports facilities, social events, and a full-service credit union.


“Benefiting government, industry and the public through innovative science and technology.” A unique corporate philosophy allows Southwest Research Institute to offer contract research and development with appealing business features.
  • SwRI is independent and impartial. It is not affiliated with any government agency, educational institution, or corporate entity, nor does it endorse products or services.
  • SwRI is nonprofit. There are no stockholders.
  • SwRI performs applied contract research and development and encourages technology transfer.
  • All programs remain confidential, and any intellectual property rights resulting from sponsored research are generally assigned to the client.
  • SwRI has a wide range of technical competencies and breadth. Its 3,300 staff members in 12 technical divisions have expertise in such areas as chemistry, space sciences, nondestructive evaluation, automation, engine design, mechanical engineering, electronics, and more. The Institute can assemble a multidisciplinary team of experts required by any technical project, giving SwRI a teaming flexibility difficult to find at other R&D organizations.
  • SwRI has state-of-the-art equipment and facilities located on 1,200 acres in San Antonio, Texas. Almost two million square feet of laboratories, offices, and test facilities support work on almost 1,500 client projects each year.


As one of the nation’s most historic and unique independent research and development centers, SwRI is also one of the largest. A strong mix of funding from industry and government ensures program diversity and a sound future. Industrial clients range from small manufacturers to blue chip corporations, in the U.S. and abroad. Since 1947, we have developed our business through professional contacts and an outstanding client list. Our staff members have successfully completed projects across the world and in almost every technical discipline.

We contribute to a safer environment, innovate technologies for the health and medical fields, and improve the quality of life. We have sent spaceflight instruments to Saturn and beyond, and we have traveled to the ocean depths. We have played major technical roles in:

  • Creating software for intelligent transportation systems
  • Developing engines that operate on alternative fuels
  • Providing environmental monitoring during the destruction of chemical munitions
  • Building spacecraft instruments to help answer some of the mysteries around Earth and throughout the universe
  • Refining computer-based design and simulation techniques
  • Testing fuels and lubricants from across the nation and around the world
  • Developing nondestructive inspection technologies to promote safety and reliability
  • Leading industrial progress in microencapsulating substances, from medicinal drugs to nutrients to cement curatives
  • Solving challenges in oil and gas production and distribution
  • Designing highway barriers and near-road systems for safety and effectiveness
  • Developing robots to operate in environmentally unsafe areas
  • Developing simulators, simulation systems and interactive courseware programs for integrated training solutions
  • Providing geolocation, advanced direction finding and tracking systems
  • Resolving technical and regulatory issues related to a geologic repository for high-level nuclear waste