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In memoriam: Jonathan Wu

Wu_JonathanProfessor Jonathan Wu, a longtime professor of civil engineering, passed away unexpectedly on Friday, March 6, 2020. 

Wu was in his 40th year of service to CU Denver. He taught many civil engineering undergraduate and graduate classes during his tenure and continuously mentored graduate students. He positively impacted the education, careers, and lives of thousands of CU Denver students. In Wu’s words, “Teaching adds great joy to my life and expands my mind.”

Wu was an expert in geotechnical engineering, and throughout his career he developed innovative full-scale experimental and computational modeling techniques that led to design methods and construction guidelines for sustainable earthwork systems including retaining walls, slopes, and bridge systems. His research was supported by many state and federal agencies throughout his career, and it made lasting contributions to civil infrastructure we experience daily across Denver and Colorado. The design methods and guidelines he and his students developed have been implemented in numerous state and federal standards and practices. 

Wu coined the term geosynthetic-reinforced soil, a term that is now used widely in the profession. In 2019 he published an authoritative book based on his research and the implementation of his methods in wall systems around the world, entitled Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil Walls. He served his profession as the founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Transportation Infrastructure Geotechnology.

This unexpected tragedy is a great loss for our college and CU Denver. Wu was a major contributor to a long line of research and teaching that brought international recognition to CU Denver as a leader in reinforced soil design and construction. His 40-year presence on our faculty was a blessing; he will be fondly remembered and greatly missed.

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At the CU Denver College of Engineering, Design and Computing, we focus on providing our students with a comprehensive engineering education at the undergraduate, graduate and professional level. Faculty conduct research that spans our five disciplines of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, bioengineering, and computer science and engineering. The college collaborates with industry from around the state; our laboratories and research opportunities give students the hands-on experience they need to excel in the professional world.

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