Spotlight on Dave Hinton, associate professor of Computer Aided Design (CAD) and director of technology
We spoke with Dave Hinton about his career path, what lead him to Howard Community College, and how he brings his love of roller skating to the classroom. These are his words.
As a child, I was fascinated by submarines and space ships; I wanted to be an aerospace engineer. But my path after high school graduation took me to retail instead. It was an armed robbery at my job that led me to enroll in college, where I studied manual drafting.
An interviewer at Westinghouse told me this: If you learn CAD (computer aided design), you’ll never be unemployed. I was married, working three part-time jobs with a baby on the way when I returned to technical college to study CAD. When my students tell me their struggles, I understand where they’re coming from. I’ve been down that road. I can also tell them that I wasn’t top of my class to start, but I tried and tried and learned the systems. Two of us were recruited right out of college. The Westinghouse recruiter was right; I’ve never been unemployed.
I came to Howard Community College (HCC) on a bet. After years working for a defense contractor and a start-up, I had set up my own business teaching small classes of architects and engineers how to use their CAD systems. One architect on Charles Street bet me that I couldn’t teach more than five people. HCC had an ad for an upper level CAD course; I applied. The faculty overseeing the hiring asked me how many versions of CAD I knew; my answer was nine. I’ve been here at HCC ever since, for 25 years.
The technology changes four or five times in just a two-year period, the time it takes to make our students employable. I have an obligation to stay on top of that and introduce new technologies to my students.
Students can’t stop their education in this field; they’ll get promoted for loyalty but also for being current in the latest technology. The presence of engineers and architects in my CAD classes reinforces that message. I tell my students they are in a position of strength when they go to interview for a job, because they may have something to teach the company.
I also tell them they can play their music when they’re working in class, they just can’t sing.
I’ve stayed active in my field outside of the classroom throughout my teaching career. For example, I worked on renderings of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge replacement options using CAD, 3-D modeling and an early version of Photo Shop. At the same time, I was working with a Nuclear Physicist at Howard University who designed a research facility within Argonne Labs in Chicago to study Xrays.
My siblings and I grew up roller-skating in Baltimore; we’re still involved. I designed a K-12 STEM and now a STEAM curriculum centered around everything that happens at a roller skating rink. Students go out on the rink and observe how they use their skates to stop; before they know it, the kids have just had a lesson on friction. The materials left by the skates on the rink? That’s chemistry. The lessons aren’t an alternative to the classroom, but they do reinforce classroom lessons with real world experiences. And they have fun. I greet them on roller skates.
I don’t really vacation. This summer I’m teaching middle-school students 3-D Animation in HCC’s Kids on Campus program. Some kids come in who are good at modeling, some aren’t so good at that but they’re good at lighting. I can teach those students how to import models.
Currently, I’m working with interns from HCPSS’s ARL (Advanced Research Laboratory) , exposing them to skills other than their major. One example, my current group is assisting in the development of Augmented and Virtual Reality content.
My goal is success for every student, knowing there are different paths to get there.