Auburn University awards honorary doctorate to engineering pioneer, legend

Published: Dec 13, 2021 1:00 PM

By Neal Reid

Walter “Walt” Woltosz — a two-time Auburn University graduate — received an honorary Doctor of Science from the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering on Friday night. The honor, the 160th honorary degree in Auburn history, was unanimously approved by the Auburn Board of Trustees in its April meeting for Woltosz’ “service to the university, state and nation, and for service to mankind.”

Woltosz earned a bachelor’s degree from Auburn in aerospace engineering in 1969, a master’s in administrative science from the University of Alabama at Huntsville in 1976 and a master’s in aerospace engineering from Auburn in 1977. He worked in the aerospace industry from 1971-83, developing simulation and modeling software to design solid propellant rocket motors and missile systems.

Woltosz and his wife, Ginger, founded Words+ Inc., a leader in developing augmenting communications systems for people with severe disabilities, including Sir Stephen Hawking. Hawking used the Words+ Equalizer and Words+ EZ Keys programs to continue his groundbreaking work and write several books, including “A Brief History of Time.”

He also founded Simulations Plus Inc., where as chairman and former CEO, he oversaw the advancement of one of the nation’s premier high technology companies dedicated to providing leading-edge pharmaceutical simulations and modeling software in health care. As a leading authority in those fields, Woltosz has published dozens of articles in highly respected publications such as the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, or AAPS, Journal and the Journal of Computer-Aided Molecular Design, where his work has been widely recognized as being highly innovative and pioneering.

Woltosz serves on the Auburn University Foundation Board, Auburn Alumni Engineering Council and Auburn University Research Advisory Board. He was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2008 and in 2016 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Auburn Alumni Association.

“I’m very happy to be receiving this, and it’s quite an honor,” said Woltosz, an accomplished aviator who holds an Airline Transport Pilot certificate, as well as a helicopter rating. “Auburn is a magical place that gets into your blood. My blood’s red, but I swear it’s orange and blue if you put it under the right light.”

The Woltoszes have generously donated to numerous areas of Auburn University, including the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, Gogue Performing Arts Center, Auburn Athletics, College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Architecture, Design and Construction, the Division of Student Affairs and War Eagle Motorsports. They are members of Auburn University’s 1856, Petrie and Foy Societies and Athletics’ Pat Dye Society, as well as the College of Engineering’s Eagles, Keystone and Ginn Societies.

Media Contact: Austin Phillips,, 334-844-2444
President Jay Gogue presents Walt Woltosz with an Honorary Doctorate of Science.

President Jay Gogue presents Walt Woltosz with an Honorary Doctorate of Science.

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