David Viar believes being passionate about what you do is vital to success. He emphasizes this to his students, and he lives it every day in his classroom. This attitude, along with his commitment to ensuring students gain the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in their future careers, led to him being named this year’s Professor of the Year.
Viar has been teaching welding classes full time at Moraine Valley since 2016, and engaging students is central to his method of teaching. He often customizes assignments to each student’s interests and career aspirations.
“We go through real-life welding scenarios,” he said. “If a student is going to apply for a job, we’ll train them for the specific test they’re going to take for that job. For example, we work closely with a company that does aerospace and pharmaceutical welding, so we know how and what they weld there. We’ll let a student who wants a position there work in class on their weld test to help them get that job.”
Viar likes to use humor to help make the learning environment comfortable and fun.
“I think it’s one of my strengths,” he said. “I try to make everybody feel welcome.”
He also wants his students to learn to work together because he knows effective teamwork will be required in the field.
“We do team projects to encourage students to talk and work together,” he said. In addition, Viar focuses on other soft skills that are necessary in the workplace.
“I emphasize to them the importance of being punctual, working hard and having passion for what you’re doing,” Viar said. “Nobody ever wakes up in August in Chicago and says, ‘I want to go weld something.’ You’ve got to want to do it. You’ve got to love it.”
The student who nominated him pointed out how Viar takes the time to help struggling students. “He is an excellent instructor who has passed on his experience to all of his students. If we ever needed help, he always was there and was patient,” the student noted.
Viar’s 20 years of industry experience, his connections in the field and his involvement with the American Welding Society (AWS) makes for a winning combination to benefit his students. He ensures the program’s curriculum aligns with current industry standards and prepares students for the weld tests the majority of companies and unions require for employment.
Viar is well respected in the industry and sits on AWS committees that help write the welding codes companies and manufacturers abide by in the field. He then brings this in-depth knowledge back into his classroom. He also invites industry experts he knows to speak to his classes.
“Representatives from the American Welding Society will come in and talk about new equipment that’s coming out. And we’ll bring in pipefitters to do welding demos,” Viar said. “We make the students ask questions, so they learn how to talk to people.”
To expose students to the many career options that use welding, Viar discusses things he has seen as a certified welding inspector. He explains to students they can go in many different career directions after taking welding courses such as blueprint reading, structural design or nondestructive. “There are many different avenues you can go into by being introduced to welding, and people in the field get paid very well. With many people retiring, there’s a lot of work out there,” he said.
In addition to his teaching duties at Moraine Valley, Viar has taught classes for the American Institute for Steel Construction, at local unions and even led an aerospace class in Grudziadz, Poland for Lockheed Martin.
Viar praises the people he works with and credits them for contributing to his success.
“The team I work with is outstanding. The reason I got this award was because of everybody I’m surrounded by. You surround yourself with great people and great things always come to you,” he said.