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In Memory

Byron Winn, Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering

July 8, 2011

"The professor I remember most is Byron Winn because he challenged and inspired me to be the very best I could. He has remained an important influence in my life."
-Susan Hock, B.S. 1978, Engineering Science

Byron Winn, emeritus professor and solar research icon in his field and in the College of Engineering at CSU, died on July 3.

Winn’s solar research at CSU began back in 1973 and he later served as department head and professor in mechanical engineering from 1983 to 1996. He helped students achieve careers in the fields of clean energy and environmental stewardship, industrial energy efficiency, efficient building design, local and regional electric utilities and manufacturing.

Winn a co-founder of Solar Village

But he is perhaps best known for co-establishing Colorado State's passive solar test facility – known as the “Solar Village” at the Solar Energy Applications Laboratory. He is also the founder of the Manufacturing Excellence Center, the Energy Analysis and Diagnostic Center, the Waste Minimization Assessment Center and the Industrial Assessment Center at Colorado State.

He was long recognized as a leader in his field and continued to stay active in the college until the time of his death. A full obituary is available on Today at Colorado State.

“We are deeply sorry to have lost such a great and kind man and one who has meant so much to CSU,” said Sandy Woods, dean of the college.

"A short work week for Byron was probably something like 80 hours," said longtime friend Fred Smith, also an emeritus professor of mechanical engineering at CSU. "He was tireless, energetic and creative throughout. One of his great ideas that survived the test of time was what became the EADC – the Energy Analysis and Diagnostic Center. This was a very creative melding of service to industry, research on energy efficiency in industrial processes, educating graduate students and educating undergraduate students.

"It has provided the kind of real-world and hands-on engineering experiential learning in the education of our undergraduate and graduate students for which the CSU ME curriculum is widely known - one of Byron’s many great contributions," Smith said.

During his career at Colorado State, Winn served as professor and department head of mechanical engineering for 13 years and as associate dean for research and graduate studies for the College of Engineering for two years. Winn conducted research and published articles in the areas of solar energy, energy conservation and manufacturing, as well as optimal control, systems analysis, orbital mechanics, satellite geodesy, remote sensing, and hydrology and water resource systems.

Always respectful and professional with students

Said Carol Dollard, utilities engineer in the Department of Facilities Management and former student of Winn’s: “Byron was a great professor and boss (I worked for him as a research assistant in addition to taking several classes from him).  He set the expectations high, always demanded perfection, but treated us respectfully and professionally. In his classes, he gave us tough projects and set the bar high.

“Fortunately, after he worked us hard, he would reward us. Sometimes after a long working road trip, he would let us take a day off to go skiing. Invariably he would show us all up on the slopes (despite him being a few decades older than any of us).  I once watched Byron telemark down a slope through knee deep powder, wipe out spectacularly, then come up chuckling despite a broken ski pole. Byron worked hard, played hard and inspired many of us that were privileged to know him to do the same. He will be sorely missed.”

On Oct. 20, 2009, Fort Collins Mayor Doug Hutchison honored Winn with “Byron Winn Day”, saying “many of Dr. Winn’s former students are living and working in the Fort Collins community and Northern Colorado, making a significant difference in expansion of clean energy technology today, due in large part to contributions from Dr. Winn.”

Winn's contributions archived at CSU

In 2010, University Libraries honored Winn for his contributions to the libraries and University Archives. Winn’s contributions, including Solar Village research papers, photographs, and drawings, document his extensive and notable career in solar and other alternative energies.

Actively involved in energy research since 1973, Winn served on the boards of directors of the American Solar Energy Society, the International Solar Energy Society, the Colorado Renewable Energy Society and the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation. He additionally served as General Chairman of the annual meeting of the American Section of the International Solar Energy Society and the Biennial Congress of the International Solar Energy Society.

Winn was president and co-founder of the Solar Environmental Engineering Company and had served on the boards of directors of several other energy-related companies. He served as a consultant to many private and government organizations and provided expertise to Public Service Company of Colorado, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Nebraska Energy Office, the Solar Energy Research Institute, the University of Mosul in Iraq, the National Research Council, the U.S. Department of Energy, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Bureau of Standards and several others.

Recipient of many accolades, awards

Among his many accolades and professional honors, Winn was named a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and had served as a technical editor of the ASME Journal of Solar Energy Engineering. He also served as a technical editor of the Passive Solar Journal and Advances in Solar Energy. He served on the National Education Committee and as chairman of the Rocky Mountain section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Upon receiving the prestigious 2003 Charles Greeley Abbot Award, in recognition of his leadership over a 30-year career, Winn said, "I thank those from whom I learned about solar energy, and my many students who made it such a pleasure for me to teach. I especially want to thank former professor George Lof who was primarily responsible for developing the Solar Village at Colorado State University."

Winn received his doctorate in Aeronautical and Astronautical Sciences from Stanford University in 1967, his master's degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Stanford in 1960 and his bachelor's in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Illinois in 1958.

Contact: Emily Wilmsen
Phone: (970) 491-2336