Dr. Walter Braithwaite was born in Jamaica. He received a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1965 from the American Institute of Engineering and Technology. He went on to receive a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Washington and a Master’s Degree in Industrial Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Boeing Sloan Fellow. Eventually, he pursued his Ph.D. at the University of Washington and completed it at Rushmore University.
He began working as a tool engineer at Boeing in 1966. One of his most notable contributions to aerospace was his role in developing computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) systems for Boeing. This led the way for airplanes, and many other products designed entirely through software. Owing in large part to Braithwaite’s leadership, the Boeing 777 was the first “paperless jet,” meaning the first jetliner designed entirely on computer. Braithwaite also played a critical part in developing the Initial Graphics Exchange Specification (IGES), a protocol for the exchange of digital information on CAD/CAM systems. Before its creation, different companies and public sector bodies used varied CAD/CAM systems that could not “speak” to one another, making collaboration difficult.
He became the highest-ranking black executive at Boeing when he was named president of Boeing Africa in 2000. Braithwaite retired in 2003. He is married to Rita Braithwaite and they have three daughters. He has volunteered with the YMCA Black Achievers Program and served as a role model for African Americans in the field of engineering. He is a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity.
Awards & Honors:
1987 Joseph Marie Jacquard Memorial Award from the American Institute of Manufacturing Technology
1995 Black Engineer of the Year
1996 Makers Award in Science and Technology from the Museum of History and Industry’s History in Seattle
1998 University of the West Indies awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree
2017 he was honored at the Pathfinder Awards Gala at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.