Hindman honored with Hall of Fame award

Daniel Hindman, the 2010 Hall of Fame honoree in the educator/academic research category, didn’t stray far from his roots.

An assistant professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., Hindman teaches courses in Wood Science and Forest Products. Yet, he says, “This career was not my thinking” as a youngster growing up in Huntingdon, Pa.

Still, his parents both were teachers in a middle school. “I didn’t have a chance,” he confesses, referring to having parents who taught in his schools. “They heard about things before I did.”

So for Hindman to grow up to earn a doctoral degree and teach at the post-secondary level seems not that surprising. Neither is the fact that he worked on vegetable farms as a youth and ultimately chose to earn his Ph.D. in Ag Engineering and Forest Resources.

“I’m a hybrid in the degree department,” Hindman confesses. His early interest in engineering led to earning a bachelor’s degree in Ag Engineering at Penn State.

There, he heard a presentation by a professor named Harvey Manbeck. “I thought, ‘He’s doing neat stuff,’” Hindman recalls. “I did my master’s and Ph.D. with Harvey at Penn State.”

Following some leaders

With Hindman’s election to the Rural Builder Hall of Fame this year, he joins a host of more than 90 honorees, including his mentor, Manbeck, who was named to the Hall of Fame in 1991. Manbeck was present at the awards event in February at the National Frame Building Expo in Louisville, Ky., to see his protégé share the honor.

Manbeck’s name is a familiar one to National Frame Building Association members. Considered by some in the industry as the dean of the post-frame academic community, he is largely responsible for the research and education about the diaphragm design standards that have been developed for use by the rural construction industry.

Of his former Penn State student, Manbeck says, “Dan is a very good person to receive this honor. “Unabashedly, I can say he’s an outstanding young engineer and faculty member who has considerable interest in the post-frame industry and contributes to the workings of the T&R committee in NFBA. I look forward  to his continuing contributions in the future.”

Hindman is focused on green building. “I think I have a different view on green building,” he says. “I see it as a kind of engineering problem — to make a more efficient building using less materials, less energy and creating a good quality structure.”

“We just did some work with the T&R (technical and research committee) on helping post-frame builders realize it IS a green building. Post-frame doesn’t know how good it is.”

Green building, he says, was “thought up with certain buildings in mind. But post-frame falls outside of the lines, so some green building recommendations don’t apply specifically.”

Hindman outlined some of those thoughts at the presentation, “How to Promote a Low-Cost, Sustainable ‘Green’ Building,” he gave on the last day of the Frame Building Expo.

“The whole point of the presentation,” Hindman says, “ is to give post-framers some info about green building and the terminology and language engineers and architects use to help builders communicate with them and get their points across.”

He confesses he’s bothered by some of the claims to being “green.” “It’s an arbitrary term everyone wants to use. It loses its meaning sometimes,” he says.

What does green mean?

One of the “green” yardsticks Hindman says should be used to measure “green-ness” is life cycle. “The tool called life cycle analysis measures energy and materials used in the manufacturing of products that go into the building, the building itself, and the ultimate recyclability of all the component parts.

Wood, he says, is green although sometimes only “certified” wood gets recognized as green. “The truth is, there is no ‘certified steel or ‘certified’ concrete. We hold wood to a higher standard. We can’t replant coal.”

Using fresh Christmas trees is “greener” than artificial trees that lie forever in landfills, he says. Discarded fresh trees decompose and give themselves back to the soil, nourishing new growth.

As an educator, Hindman sees that students of wood science and forest products are very outcome-based. The wood science program does not lead to an engineering degree at Virginia Tech, he says, but one that takes students to work as designers of trusses or designers of manufactured housing. Others head toward sawmill operations, or manufacturing of wood products such as pallets.

Among the younger Hall of Fame members, Hindman earned his Ph.D. in 2003. He and his wife have a son, Thomas, 2-1/2.

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