Editor’s Note: This is one in the Sentinel’s “Where Are They Now?” series about Ramona graduates—where they are and what they are doing.
By Karen Brainard
Since entering a collegiate inventors competition last year, doors of opportunities have been opening for Tylor Ellard, a 2010 Ramona High graduate who wants to make a difference by improving equipment for the U.S. military.
“In the past four months a lot has changed for me and where I can see myself,” said the mechanical engineering and astrophysics major at Palomar College.
In October 2012, Ellard and his friend, Hector Herrera, launched a company, Inertia Research and Development (I.R.D.), and will be applying for a Small Business Innovation Research grant through the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).
As if that wasn’t exciting enough, the 20-year-old received notification that he was nominated for the International Scholar Laureate program that provides career exploration through international student delegations.
“I was honestly shocked and ecstatic when I opened the letter and found out I had been nominated for this opportunity to represent my country at the international level in a field of study I am in love with,” he said.
Although Ellard was planning to join a delegation in May that will travel to Beijing, China, with a focus on engineering, he has decided to decline the offer due to funding. Work has picked up with his company, he said, and he needs to prioritize his funding, but he considers the invitation a huge honor.
"We have another 3 projects we are working on and one of them is a big game changing project; we are bringing on a few more associates to tackle this one," he said.
"We are still preparing for the DOD this September and are beginning paper work within the next few weeks. Things are looking up this year," added Ellard.
In the Aug. 30, 2012,
issue, Ellard was featured in the article “RHS grads team up for collegiate invention competition” that told of his collaboration with friends and fellow Ramona High graduates Michael “Max” Hughes and Herrera.
The three pooled their skills and designed a new kind of grenade for the competition. Ellard comes from a family with a long military background and has a brother who served in Afghanistan. The grenade was designed to have increased range and explosive direction.
The three did not win the competition, but were finalists and garnered interest, leading to the development of their research and development firm. Ellard said they have a machinist who is consulting with them on the grenade project. They expect to have a prototype later this year and hope to talk with the Department of Defense.
Ellard said I.R.D. is already making a “small splash in California” as he and Herrera have been talking with members from other research companies.
“We, for now, design technologies that will take us a step forward in the best direction for the protection of our country and the countries of our allies,” he said. “We design small arms and defense technologies to increase our survival rate in combat for our troops, making it easier to recover and encounter faster and with more force. We want to shorten the time our soldiers have to be in combat. If we can do that, then we have done our jobs.”
Ellard added that they welcome anyone interested in funding their research.
Ellard credits his achievements to family and friends who have been a huge support, and he especially acknowledged Herrera and Hughes.
“I couldn’t ask for a more loyal friend who has been not only helpful and supportive but is also a sharp chemical-biology student to keep me thinking outside the box on many things we work on,” he said of Herrera.
Hughes, a computer science major, elected not to be involved in the start-up of I.R.D., so he could focus more on school, but may become involved later on, said Ellard.
“This man was a tremendous part of our first project and we couldn’t have done it without his analytical brain power behind it,” he said, praising Hughes.
Ellard plans to transfer to a four-year university at the end of this school year. He has been applying to such schools as University of California at Berkeley and at San Diego, California Polytechnic State in San Luis Obispo, and Cornell University.
Looking back on the last few months, Ellard said, “I would say determination and hard work has had an impact on what I do every day, even in small bits.”
Readers with the name of a Ramona graduate for the “Where Are They Now?” series may email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 760-789-1350.