Byron Winn

Dr. C. Byron Winn

Dr. C. Byron Winn, 77, of Fort Collins, passed away July 3, 2011. Dr. Winn was born Nov. 21, 1933 to Colman and Kiula Winn in Canton, Mo. Though his life began in challenging circumstances during the Great Depression, he became a noted educator, astronautical engineer and solar energy innovator who made significant contributions to the period of scientific and technological advancement that began during World War II.

Dr. Winn's parents moved the family among communities in and near the Illinois and Missouri sides of the Mississippi River Valley, where the Winns both worked in manufacturing, teaching and school administration. In 1951, Dr. Winn graduated from Hannibal High School in Hannibal, Mo., where he excelled as a third baseman, quarterback and half miler.
He played intercollegiate baseball at the University of Illinois, from which he was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1958, after serving two years as a paratrooper in the 11th Airborne Division during the Korean War years. As a young man he also played semi-professional baseball; he later delighted in pointing out to his children the several major leaguers with whom he had played. While an undergraduate, he met his wife, Donna Taylor Winn. They were married in Charleston, Ill., in 1957. Dr. Winn attended graduate school at Stanford University and received master's and doctorate degrees in Aeronautical and Astronautical Sciences.

His academic and professional life focused on areas of inquiry and advancement that have had an enduring impact on modern life: space exploration, satellite technology and energy conservation.

While attending Stanford, he worked for Lockheed Missiles and Space Division and taught part-time at Santa Clara University. At Lockheed, he was involved in the Discoverer Satellite (the "Spy-in-the-Sky") program. Between his graduate degrees he was employed by the Applied Research Department at Martin Marietta in Denver, and his children were born alternately in California and Colorado over that time. Determined to change the nomadic nature of his career, he came to Colorado State University in 1966, eager to share with his family his deep enjoyment of hunting, fishing and skiing. He served as a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering for more than 30 years, and became a Fellow of both the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Solar Energy Society.

In 1972, he was offered the position of Deputy to Dr. Werner von Braun at NASA Headquarters; but Dr. von Braun's abrupt retirement from NASA shortly before Dr. Winn was to go to Washington meant he instead spent 15 months teaching in Australia and Texas, and working for the French Government on a satellite project. Upon his return to CSU in 1973 he began his research in solar energy.

Dr. Winn developed and directed the Energy Analysis and Diagnostic Center, the Manufacturing Excellence Center and the Industrial Assessment Center at Colorado State University. He served as head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering from 1983 to 1996 and as associate dean for research and graduate studies until his retirement in 1997. Following retirement, he wrote the history of the department and served on the Board of Directors of the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation. During his chairmanship of the SRCC, the organization tripled in size and became established as the premier certification authority for solar energy systems. He also served on the Board of Directors of the International Solar Energy Society, the American Solar Energy Society and the Colorado Renewable Energy Society. During his career, Dr. Winn received numerous awards, including: the Charles Greeley Abbot Award (the highest award granted by the American Solar Energy Society); the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Illinois; the Energy Systems Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; the EPPIC Award from Platte River Power Authority; and, from Colorado State University, the Abell Faculty Research and Graduate Program Support Award; the Oliver P. Pennock Distinguished Service Award; the Abell Faculty Service Award of Excellence; the Jack E. Cermak Advising Award; and the Meritorious Faculty Emeritus Award.

Of all his professional accomplishments, he was most proud of his many students who have made significant accomplishments in alternative energy and energy conservation.

Throughout his life, Dr. Winn was an enthusiastic outdoorsman, golfer and reader. An avid and accomplished singles and doubles handball player, he competed at a high level into his seventies, winning (with his partner George Kress) doubles titles in Colorado State Handball Association tournaments.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Donna Winn; children, Dr. Byron L. Winn of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass., and Derek A. Winn and Julie Winn Knighton, both of Fort Collins. He is also survived by seven beloved grandchildren: Daniel, Sara, Andrew and Seth Knighton; and Connor, Braden and Gillian Winn. He is also survived by his siblings: Mary Exon of Evergreen, Colo.; Don Winn of Normal, Ill.; and Elsie Brown of San Antonio, Texas.

Dr. Winn lived an extraordinary life of discovery, adventure, teaching and service. A celebration of his life will be held at 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 10th at the Drake Center, East Banquet room. Memorial contributions may be made to the C. Byron and Donna T. Winn Scholarship Fund at Colorado State University. Gifts should be sent to the Colorado State University Foundation, P.O. Box 1870, Fort Collins, Colo., 80522-1870. Checks should be made to the CSU Foundation, with the Winn Scholarship Fund noted in the memo.