Bevly named inaugural Bill and Lana McNair Endowed Distinguished Professor

Published: Jul 31, 2015 10:00:00 AM
Media Contact: Gail Riese,, 334.844.3447

dave bevly
David Bevly

David M. Bevly has been named as the inaugural Bill and Lana McNair Endowed Distinguished Professor in Auburn University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, where he has been a faculty member since 2001.

He previously held the position of Albert J. Smith Jr. Endowed Professor and Philpott-Westpoint Stevens Professorship at Auburn. Bevly earned a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University, master’s degree from MIT and doctoral degree from Stanford University, all in mechanical engineering.

“In order for the College of Engineering to continue to build an unparalleled engineering educational experience, we must attract and retain the most exceptional engineering educators and researchers,” said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of engineering. “Through this gift from Bill and Lana, this endowment will help support the exceptional work of David Bevly, an outstanding faculty member who demonstrates a strong commitment to students and delivers high quality instruction and research.”

Bevly’s research interests include the control and navigation of vehicles using global positioning system and inertial navigation sensors. He has served as principal or co-principal investigator on more than $15 million in extramurally funded research, including two Young Investigator Proposal awards. He holds three patents for GPS Control of a Tractor Towed Implement; Determination and Control of Vehicle Sideslip Using GPS; and Method and Apparatus for Vehicle Control, Navigation and Positioning.

Auburn University’s GPS and Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory was founded and is led by Bevly. It focuses on vehicle dynamics and transportation systems, including heavy trucks, passenger cars and off-road vehicles, as well as self-directed and unmanned vehicles. Projects have included improved steering control of GPS-guided farm tractors; vehicle and driver monitoring; and navigation and control of unmanned ground vehicles. Through his efforts, the laboratory has earned a national reputation for producing outstanding engineering graduates.

Bevly has mentored more than 70 doctoral and master’s degree students. He has taught numerous courses at Auburn and developed curricula as part of the Automotive Certificate in Engineering program and courses on the fundamentals and utilization of GPS. Among other accolades received, Bevly was the Auburn University Graduate School Outstanding Faculty Member in 2011, William Walker Teaching Award recipient in 2010 and Auburn Alumni Engineering Council Outstanding Faculty Award winner for 2005, 2008 and 2010. He has authored a book entitled “GNSS For Vehicle Control.”

Bill McNair is a 1968 electrical engineering graduate of Auburn who also earned an MBA from Auburn University at Montgomery in 1977 and a master’s degree in management through the MIT Sloan Fellows program in 1986. His 33-year career in the telecommunications industry began as an engineer with South Central Bell. He retired from BellSouth as vice president of network operations.

McNair was instrumental in obtaining BellSouth’s funding of Auburn’s Minority Engineering program. He serves on the Auburn University Foundation board of directors, the College of Engineering leadership team and the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council’s executive committee. McNair was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2010. Lana is a devoted supporter and life member of the Auburn Alumni Association. The McNairs are members of the university’s 1856 Society and the College of Engineering’s Keystone and Ginn societies.