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Updated: August 22, 2022 / 40 Under Forty, Class of 2022

40 Under Forty 2022: David Willens

Photo | Erika Sidor David Willens
Photo | Erika Sidor 40 Under Forty, Class of 2022 winners, from left, Ryan Brown, Darryl Caffee Jr., Alise Breton, and David Willens pose at Old Sturbridge Village (special thanks to Christine Freitas and James Donahue)
David Willens, 35
  • Title Director of research & development
  • Company Kinefac Corp., in Worcester
  • Residence Paxton
  • Birthplace Boston
  • College Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Click here to read about the other 40 Under Forty, Class of 2022
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Willens has spent almost half his life working at Kinefac, starting as a part-time employee during his undergraduate years and working his way up to head of research and development.

Over those 17 years, he has received three degrees from WPI, including a doctorate, and has helped design and construct one of the world’s largest thread rolling machines, capable of outputting nearly 700,000 pounds of force and 10,000 pound feet of torque.

Beyond Kinefac, however, Willens does a lot for engineering education, coordinating the engagement of schools like WPI and Northeastern University in Boston to sponsor engineering student projects, and guest lecturing in an introductory course for manufacturing science course at his alma mater. He co-authored a chapter on the rolling process in the McGraw-Hill Manufacturing Engineering Handbook in 2015.

Would you prefer to live on the equator or in Antarctica? Equator, not a fan of the cold

What is the key to your success? Building a strong foundation of education, mentors, hands-on experience, and networking relationships, and staying in tune with current and future technological needs and exploring innovative ways of developing it and applying it.

Outside of your career and family, what has been your marquee life experience? Going through the process of co-authoring and publishing a book. The book, entitled “Wain-Roy and the Invention of the Backhoe,” was inspired by the passion to preserve local area history and to correct claims made by others in a multi-billion dollar industry. It was a lengthy process of deep research and interviews resulting in successful publication in 2018. This was followed by book signings and several published articles in local area newspapers and on the internet. The book has drawn the attention of many worldwide and some big industry construction machine companies to augment their claims. Humbling fan letters continue to come in even several years later, and a Facebook group on the topic has grown to nearly 200 members.

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