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Jenkins named professor emeritus, retires, and leaves legacy

Professor Emeritus Peter Jenkins

Peter Jenkins, professor of mechanical engineering and former dean, retired from CU Denver and the College of Engineering, Design and Computing in June and has been named Professor Emeritus. Jenkins joined the college in 1992 as dean, a position he held until 2002, and then continued his tenure as mechanical engineering faculty. The college honored Jenkins at a virtual retirement party on June 18.

In his 28+ years at CU Denver, Jenkins left his mark in many ways, serving in many roles beyond his faculty and dean appointments. These include director of the Sports Engineering Program, associate dean of research, special assistant to the vice chancellor for academic affairs, director of the Engineering and Applied Science PhD Program, deputy director of the Center for Sustainable Infrastructure Systems, director of the International Technology Transfer Program, and director of the Energy R&D Program.

“My best memory while at the college was mentoring Jason Ren from assistant professor at CU Denver to becoming a full professor and center director at Princeton University,” said Jenkins. Ren was a civil engineering faculty member from 2008 until 2013.

“You were my best mentor and collaborator,” said Ren via Zoom from New Jersey. “If it wasn’t for [Pete] I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Looking back, Jenkins has been instrumental in many initiatives that forever impacted the current trajectory of the college. He spearheaded the development of the interdisciplinary Engineering and Applied Science PhD program, which draws doctoral students interested in mechanical and electrical engineering, and gives civil engineering and computer science students another doctoral option. he also helped associate professor Chris Yakacki develop the helmet testing program for concussion mitigation and launch the SMASH lab.

“I don’t think Dana [Carpenter] or I would be here without Pete,” said Yakacki. “He has influenced the mechanical engineering department immensely and is one of the big reasons I got into helmet research.”

The college virtually celebrates Professor Emeritus Peter Jenkins’ retirement.

Prior to coming to CU Denver, Jenkins held faculty positions at University of Nebraska, Texas A&M, Northern Arizona University, and three service academies – United States Naval Academy, United States Air Force Academy, and United States Military Academy.

Visiting scholar Dan Jensen previously worked with Jenkins at the Air Force Academy and again at CU Denver. “It was a privilege to teach with Pete at different institutions,” said Jensen. “He’s deeply appreciated as a mentor and is always up for trying something new.”

At his farewell lunch, faculty reminisced about Jenkins’ love of sports, his sense of adventure, and how, no matter where he goes, he seems to know someone. And while he plans to spend more time playing pickleball, golf, and tennis, Jenkins won’t be far—he is teaching the Turbomachinery course this fall.

“Pete has made an incredible impact and created a remarkably high bar for all of us all to aspire to,” said Martin Dunn, dean for the College of Engineering, Design and Computing. “Congratulations, best of luck, and thanks for all you’ve done for CU Denver.”  

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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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