Blake Albright – Staff Writer
As a kid, David Winyard always was putting things together — or tearing things apart — to figure out how they work.
He grew up playing with Legos and electric trains, and spent hours building plastic models.
He also loved watching the NASA launches in the ‘60s.
“I was fascinated by the process of getting to the moon,” he said.
Those interests became the basis of what is now an impressive resume. Since those early days of his life, Winyard has worked his way through a 37-year civilian career as an engineer with the U.S. Navy and Defense Logistics Agency.
Now he is MVNU’s newest — and so far, only — professor of engineering.
Winyard hails from Baltimore, Maryland, where he graduated from the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (a public high school emphasizing the study of mathematics, sciences and engineering) in 1975.
Right after graduation, he went on to co-op with the Naval Ship R & D Center as a mechanical engineer at the Annapolis naval base, where he worked until 1997. Most of the projects he worked on for the Navy involved reducing the weight of pumps and hydraulic systems on ships and submarines.
“My favorite part of working with the Navy must be the two times I got to ride aboard subs,” Winyard said.
He spent time on two different submarines, sailing up and down the West Coast, thinking of ways to make them run more quietly and avoid detection.
Winyard completed his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland in 1980.
Five years later he married his wife, Traci, and two years after that, he completed his master’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Rochester. The couple’s first child, David Charles, was born in 1988. Two years later, younger sister Audrey joined the family.
The next phase of Winyard’s life came in 1997, when he took a job with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and moved his family to Richmond, Virginia.
The DLA is the U.S. military’s main source of supplies. Almost anything soldiers need is sourced by the DLA.
During his time with the DLA, Winyard focused less on hands-on engineering projects, and more on communicating with people and managing projects. His most significant achievement was helping develop a Deployable Depot, a system which makes the process of disbursing military equipment to front lines much more efficient.
The Deployable Depot allowed the U.S. government to provide aid to victims of Hurricane Ike within 96 hours.
“The project was the most challenging, frustrating, satisfying work I ever did,” Winyard said.
In 2012, after 15 years, he retired from the DLA and began doctoral work at Virginia Tech. Returning to classes as a student inspired Winyard to teach at the collegiate level.
“Originally, I thought I would be teaching classes pertaining to my doctoral studies,” he said.
But it seems God had other plans. Last January, Winyard heard about MVNU’s plan to start an engineering program. At the time, he didn’t even know where Mount Vernon was located.
Upon finding out the school is about an hour away from Worthington, where his daughter Audrey now lives, Winyard decided to apply for the job.
Then he “pretty much forgot about the application,” he said. “I thought surely they had selected someone else.”
But he got a call in May to see if he was still interested. Winyard interviewed the following week.
In early June, Winyard “got the offer and decided to take the plunge.”
Winyard is teaching the only engineering class offered this semester (Engineering Design I) as well as working on his dissertation.
Students say they have found the professor knowledgable and approachable.
“He jokes around a lot with us in class. But he also takes the time to come around to each team to talk with us about our projects,” sophomore Stephen Wegener said. “He shows us a lot of examples from his past work.”
Winyard’s years at the Polytechnic Institute stick with him today, and even help influence his teaching methods.
“They believed to be an engineer, you need to know how to build things, which is what I’m trying to teach here,” he said, mentioning an assignment his students will work on later this semester which requires them to build machines that smash bottles.
Along with this hands-on approach, Winyard tries to keep the focus of his class on God. He believes that science and technology have a moral component.
“The temptation is to turn away from God,” and become focused on our inventions, he said.
Concerning his goals for this new position with the University, Winyard half-jokingly said he wants to “beat the time it took for Olivet to get their engineering program accredited.”
Seriously though, Winyard is here for the long-run, and he wants to see the program completed.