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Associate professor of mechanical engineering at Worchester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), David J. Olinger '83 recently received the 2001-02 Morgan Distinguished Instructorship in Mechanical Engineering for outstanding student advising.

Olinger advised about 10 undergraduate students last year. One of the major projects was helping them design “micro-aircraft” that are six inches and smaller. These low-cost aircraft have potential uses for the military, surveillance, and location of disaster survivors, says Olinger, adding that he enjoys interaction with students. “We've gone to national design competitions,” he says. “These activities give me the chance for a lot of personal contact with students. I get to know them well and see them go on to careers with aircraft design companies.”

A mechanical engineering graduate, Olinger's interests are in fluid mechanics, aero- and hydrodynamics, fluid-structure interaction, nonlinear dynamics, and fluid-flow control. His career was shaped by Richard Merz, associate professor of mechanical engineering, who advised his senior design project in aerodynamics. “He was my first mentor,” says Olinger. “I'm doing what I do now because of his early influence. He developed the interest that I still work on in aerodynamics.”

A resident of Northbridge, Mass., Olinger holds a master's from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Ph.D. from Yale University. He received a summer faculty research fellowship from the U.S. Navy and the American Society of Engineering Education.

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles