J. Mike Walker '66 | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Dr. J. Mike Walker, co-founder of Dril-Quip, former Texas A&M University student and namesake of the J. Mike Walker '66 Department of Mechanical Engineering, passed away on Dec. 26 at the age of 75.

Survived by his wife, son, two daughters, six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren, Walker has left behind a legacy of generosity, caring and extraordinary leadership.

“I am deeply saddened by the untimely passing of Dr. Walker,” said Dr. Andreas Polycarpou, department head of the J. Mike Walker '66 Department of Mechanical Engineering. “He was a brilliant engineer and entrepreneur whose commitment to mechanical engineering at Texas A&M is unparalleled. His extraordinary generosity will immeasurably benefit our students and faculty for generations to come. I looked forward to getting to know Mike, and now our department looks forward to continuing to honor his legacy with his wife, Donna."

From his humble beginnings in a log cabin outside Huntington, Texas, and throughout his successful career, Walker was a devoted advocate of the value and importance of higher education.

Due to the impact that his academic experiences had on his life, Walker united his alma maters, Texas A&M University and The University of Texas at Austin, by gifting each mechanical engineering department $20 million in September 2018.

“My experiences at these two universities certainly helped me grow as an engineer,” Walker said about his gift. “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. I want to make that same opportunity available to as many students as I can.”

Born in 1943, Walker was valedictorian of his class at Huntington High School. Upon receiving his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M and his master’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin, he began his career at Exxon Refining. After working for four years, he returned to Texas A&M to acquire his Ph.D.

Walker returned to Exxon as a subsea engineer in the Offshore Department of the Exxon Production Research Company while subsequently working for McEvoy and Vetco Offshore.

Walker then went on to co-found Dril-Quip, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of offshore drilling and production equipment. When he retired from his role as chairman, president and CEO in 2011, Dril-Quip had a market cap in excess of $4 billion and over 2,200 employees around the world.

His generous gift will enhance education at Texas A&M for years to come by providing critical resources to researchers as they advance the future of engineering, as well as supporting the leaders of tomorrow though fellowships, grants and scholarships.