Southwest Research Institute

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is one of the oldest and largest independent, nonprofit, applied research and development (R&D) organizations in the United States. Founded in 1947 by oil businessman Thomas Slick, Jr. [1], SwRI provides contract research and development services to government and industrial clients.

Southwest Research Institute
Independent research and development
FounderThomas Slick, Jr.
HeadquartersSan Antonio, Texas, USA
RevenueMore than $583 million (FY 2018)
Number of employees
2,602 (FY 2018)

The institute consists of nine technical divisions (applied physics, applied power, center for nuclear waste regulatory analyses, chemistry & chemical engineering, defense & intelligence solutions, fuels & lubricants research, intelligent systems, mechanical engineering, powertrain engineering, space science & engineering) that offer multidisciplinary, problem-solving services in a variety of areas in engineering and the physical sciences. The Center for Nuclear Waste Regulatory Analyses, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, also operates on the SwRI grounds. More than 4,000 projects are active at the institute at any given time. These projects are funded almost equally between the government and commercial sectors. At the close of fiscal year 2018, the SwRI staff numbered 2,600 employees and total revenue was more than $583 million. The institute provided more than $7 million to fund innovative research through its internally sponsored R&D program.

A partial listing of research areas includes space science and engineering; automation, robotics, and intelligent systems; avionics and support systems; bioengineering; chemistry and chemical engineering; corrosion and electrochemistry; earth and planetary sciences; emissions research; engineering mechanics; fire technology; fluid systems and machinery dynamics; and fuels and lubricants. Additional areas include geochemistry and mining engineering; hydrology and geohydrology; materials sciences and fracture mechanics; modeling and simulation; nondestructive evaluation; oil and gas exploration; pipeline technology; surface modification and coatings; and vehicle, engine, and powertrain design, research, and development. In 2018, staff members published 667 papers in the technical literature; made 680 presentations at technical conferences, seminars and symposia around the world; submitted 60 invention disclosures; filed 49 patent applications; and received 28 U.S. patent awards.

SwRI research scientists have led several NASA missions, including the New Horizons mission to Pluto[2], the Juno mission to Jupiter[3] and the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission to study the Earth's magnetosphere[4].

SwRI initiates contracts with clients based on consultations and prepares a formal proposal outlining the scope of work. Subject to client wishes, programs are kept confidential. As part of a long-held tradition, patent rights arising from sponsored research are often assigned to the client. SwRI generally retains the rights to institute-funded advancements.

The institute's headquarters occupy more than two million square feet of office and laboratory space on more than 1,200 acres in San Antonio. SwRI has technical offices and laboratories in Boulder, Colorado; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Warner-Robins, Georgia; Ogden, Utah; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Rockville, Maryland; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Beijing, China; and other locations.

Technology Today, SwRI's technical magazine, is published three times each year to spotlight the research and development projects currently underway.

Technical divisions

SwRI consists of nine divisions that offer multidisciplinary, problem-solving services in a variety of areas in engineering and the physical sciences:

  • Applied Physics
  • Applied Power
  • Intelligent Systems
  • Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Office of Automotive Engineering (Powertrain Engineering and Fuels and Lubricants Research)
  • Defense and Intelligence Solutions
  • Space Science and Engineering


  1. "History". Southwest Research Institute. 2016-07-17. Retrieved 2019-12-08.
  2. "New Horizons : The Teams". Retrieved 2019-12-08.
  3. "Juno: The Team".
  4. "MMS-SMART Team". Retrieved 2019-12-08.

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