Ok. The path into academia, and especially into a position that emphasizes research, goes through a research doctorate, usually a PhD. With only an undergraduate degree, expect about seven years to achieve it, in the best of times, which these are not. Here are some pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.
First, if you get accepted into a doctoral program in the US, you will probably get a stipend of some form, but usually in the form of a Teaching Assistantship which is something like a quarter to half time position. But it also normally comes with complete tuition forgiveness. People can live on this, but it is harder if you have a family and your spouse isn't employed. Possible.
But, with several years in industry, your expectations about life style might not be especially compatible with such a low income. So, you would probably need to give up something to get something. UTAustin is a pretty big level institution and you would probably find success by casting a wider net.
But, the times in education are very hard right now. Even before coronavirus started to spread, disrupting education everywhere at all levels, the job market in academia wasn't ideal, with people finding it difficult to get permanent (tenure track) positions. There have been more graduates, it seems, than there are jobs. But that can change, both quickly and dramatically.
The coronavirus has made things both difficult and tentative. It is harder to have the direct contact between students and professors that is very helpful to getting a doctorate. In the US, which normally requires quite a lot of advanced coursework past the bachelors degree, it will be difficult in the short term with online classes substituting for face to face instruction.
And, of course, whether you are able to get a position in academia depends quite a lot on yourself and on how you do in a degree program. It is helpful to have an advisor who has a good reputation who can give you a boost in your career, but those same super-star professors can be hard to work with also.
However, if you've stated your motives accurately, then you'd seem to be a good candidate. Don't go into academia for the money. At the end of my career I was well paid, but my friends with similar responsibility in large research organizations like IBM, earned just about twice what I did. For me, it was a good tradeoff since I got to set my own agenda. And, I went into academia in the first place because all other options seemed to be deadly unattractive.
If you want direct advice, I'd suggest you spend a year looking around at institutions and programs of interest and getting financial things in order. Hopefully that will take us past the current pandemic and make planning a bit more rational. If not for the pandemic, I'd suggest starting now. But the crystal ball is very cloudy at the moment.
Update: I doubt that you need to do anything other than apply to get in to a doctoral program in the US. You will need to find letters of recommendation, some from academics, but if your record was good I think you have a chance. Europe requires much more from entering students, of course.
What the world will be like after the pandemic, it is impossible to say, but there will be a strong incentive for academia to return to normal as quickly as possible. Political constraints may get in the way and the economy will take time to recover, but some things underlying research don't change, and likely won't. In many fields, labs are required and expensive. In most fields, face to face research seminars are considered to be superior to the alternative. Momentum has slowed, of course, but the system hasn't been destroyed. There was, for example, a huge growth in higher education at the end of WWII. The system is pretty resilient.
For state sponsored universities in the US, such as UTAustin, the strength of the institution adds to the strength of the economy of the state overall. Without good universities, students and businesses go elsewhere. UTAustin, in particular adds to the special nature of Austin itself.