Professor Bruce Janson reflects on his CU Denver career
Editors note: After 30 years, Professor Bruce Janson will retire from the College of Engineering, Design and Computing on January 1, 2021. This is a first-person refection on his time at CU Denver.
I joined CU Denver as an associate professor of civil engineering for the fall 1990 semester. My wife Maria Riva joined the faculty of the College of Education at the University of Denver at the same time. After graduating from the University of Illinois in 1981, I was an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania (my birth state) while Maria completed her doctorate in counseling psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. As we considered new opportunities throughout the United States, we were both confident that we could make an impact and a contribution to our respective universities here in Denver.
I began to study transportation since an early age. My 8th grade exhibit was on the science of flight. I carried that interest through high school into my undergraduate years at Cornell and then through my masters at Penn. Those were the years of the first major environmental movement in the United States that began efforts to reduce our dependence on oil as the primary motor vehicle fuel. So a great deal of research was emerging on making transportation systems more efficient from both a design perspective and a user perspective. At heart, I’m a bit of a math and science nerd and I really love explaining and clarifying those concepts to students. That’s mainly what has propelled my teaching and research through the years, which I’ll continue to pursue in both part-time teaching and research even after retirement.
I had some wonderful mentors throughout my college years that inspired me to teach, and I’ve taught more than 130 courses in my 30+ years at CU Denver. I enjoy talking to students about how they became interested in civil engineering. I’ve mentored many students toward transportation as a career that might not have been thinking of that way when they first started at CU Denver. Seeing them graduate and succeed is the ultimate gratitude. I’ve attended nearly every graduation ceremony at CU Denver during these 30+ years, as I will do virtually this semester.
I’ve enjoyed working with all CU Denver faculty as associate dean, in my years as civil engineering department chair, and on countless committees. The most rewarding has been to work with others on engineering scholarships and university-wide scholarships that have helped students so much to complete their degrees. I intend to continue that involvement, even after retirement. More to do, so I’ll still be around!