Disciple of degrees: Brewer Science program manager is scholar extraordinaire

Walter Barnes, B.S. in Chemical Engineering, Florida A&M University

Walter Barnes’ career could have taken a number of different directions before he joined Brewer Science. And if his hugely impressive resume is an indication, he could have excelled in any or all.

The highly ambitious Jacksonville, Florida, native has snapped up a series of advanced degrees. The roll call is staggering: Brewer Science’s senior program manager holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from Florida A&M University and an M.S. in engineering management from the University of Missouri-Rolla. From the University of Missouri-Columbia he earned both an MBA (concentration in finance) and a Juris Doctor (Doctor of Law) with a certificate in intellectual property and e-commerce.

More astounding? He’s not done. In addition to his responsibilities at Brewer Science, he’s at work on a Ph.D. in engineering management from the Missouri University of Science & Technology.

Brewer Science had the good fortune to snag Barnes as a process engineering manager in 2013, after which he became quality engineering manager prior to his current role. He now leads Lithography R&D’s Beta Team in Brewer Science’s Semiconductor Business Unit, overseeing a team of eight chemists and engineers.

“I work for a company that lives its mission ‘Of the people, by the technology, for the customer’ and appreciates the value that diversity of background, thought, and opinion bring,” he noted. “Most importantly, I get excited about getting to work with some very smart and genuinely nice people who not only care about the technology, but about each other.”

In Barnes’ current role, he ensures the delivery of new products from Brewer Science’s R&D pipeline into manufacturing to enable full commercialization in the market. His team addresses the challenges of scaling up processes and characterizing materials from the laboratory bench to high-volume chemical manufacturing.

“There is typically no typical day,” he joked. But some of his tasks involve working with teams that track progress and resolve deployment issues on current projects; link R&D and manufacturing; source newer, cleaner supply chain materials; meet environmental, health, and safety standards; ensure synchronization of business and sales goals to plan; set priorities for the pipeline; and monitor marketspace needs.

Barnes’ interest in science began at age 4 when he saw the 1953 film version of The War of the Worlds based on H.G. Wells' novel and continued in second grade with a desire to become an astronomer. In fourth grade Barnes, along with his friends, started his own space administration. Barnes’ fascination with science continued to grow while in high school when he worked for nuclear physicist Dr. Neil Fletcher as part of Florida State University’s Young Scholars Program. Prior to Brewer Science, he worked in engineering and/or business capacities for Procter & Gamble Co. in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Kansas City, Kansas; 3M Co. in Cordova, Illinois, and Columbia, Missouri; and both Arthur Andersen LLP and Monsanto Co. in St. Louis, Missouri.

The former FAMU Rattler said his role at Brewer Science in the next five years will likely include collaborations with partners aimed at optimizing mutual strengths. “That will open up more opportunities to expand our footprint in the marketplace,” he predicted. “Our work will streamline as we implement project management tools that allow us to develop actionable metrics and tracking of project activities, optimizing the deployment of resources and improving our new product introduction speed.”

Barnes was recently interviewed for the Winter 2015 issue of Minority Engineer Magazine. Brewer Science was also named to the Minority Engineer Magazine List of Top 50 Employers in U.S. for 2016 this month.

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