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Jeni Blacklock, Ph.D.

Jenifer Blacklock

Director of the Western-CU Boulder Partnership Program


Ph.D., Max Planck Institute
M.S., Biomedical Engineering
B.S., Miami University, Manufacturing Engineering and Engineering Management


I come to the Western-CU Partnership Program with over a decade of experience in engineering curriculum development, program development, assessment and industry experience. I received dual B.S. degrees from Miami University in Manufacturing Engineering and Engineering Management. Upon graduation, I worked at Tesco Engineering, a consulting firm in the Detroit area. I worked as a Project Manager designing and implementing assembly lines and hydraulic presses for various automotive companies across the United States. During this time, I went back to school and completed a M.S. with thesis in Biomedical Engineering. My research focused on manufacturing nanoparticles and thin-films for bio-delivery systems. From there, I completed my Ph.D. at Max Planck Institute in Potsdam, Germany in collaboration with Wayne State University as a Fulbright Fellow.

After completing a Post-doc at Max Planck Institute, I was a National Research Council (NRC) Fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) working as a Materials Engineer in Boulder, Colorado. After two years at NIST, I took a position as a Teaching Professor at Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. While at Mines, I was promoted to Full Teaching Professor and was the Assistant Department Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department. I was in charge of curriculum, assessment, accreditation and student affairs. During this time, the Mechanical Engineering Department was consistently ranked in the top 25 Mechanical Engineering departments in the United States. I was instrumental in developing and maintaining a strong hands-on focus in the curriculum. I was also part of a team that built the Innovation Ecosystem at Mines, developing labs and hands-on spaces for students and student projects for all engineering courses.

In 2017, I took a faculty position at CU-Boulder and launched the SEE (Student Experiential Education) initiative. Its goal is to bring industry into the classroom. During this time, I focused on creating strong industry ties to enhance student internship rates and student experiences in industry. The SEE initiative was financially supported and is continuing to make a difference in the Mechanical Engineering department at CU-Boulder with the support of several faculty and staff.

I went back to Mines to help launch the Advanced Manufacturing program as the Associate Director of the program. I worked on recruitment efforts across the country for the program, strengthening local industry partnerships as well. The efforts of this program led to the funding of a $2M NSF-PEER grant, supporting work-force development in the field of Advanced Manufacturing, as well as growth of the Advanced Manufacturing program.

My husband and I have two sons and a Labrador. We love adventures as a family and being in the mountains. I have completed an Ironman and enjoy mountain biking, trail running, skiing and being outdoors.

My family and I are very to become a part of the Western community.

How did you discover Western?

I first heard of Western from our nanny, whose daughter could have attended any university she wanted and ended up choosing Western due to the honors program and the campus. Over the years, I then continued to hear about the wonderful and unique programs Western has to offer along with the campus comradery and excellence in instruction and education.

What are some of the highlights of your career?

A career highlight I am most proud of is being awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to complete my Ph.D. at Max Planck Institute in Germany. I not only learned how to speak German, but I assimilated into a new culture. I was also able to complete my Ph.D. and post-doc at one of the leading research institutes in the world.

Another accomplishment I am proud of is from a few years back. After teaching for almost a decade, I wanted to go back into the workforce to gain ‘real world’ experience. I took a job at a start-up company over the summer as the mechanical/manufacturing engineer. The goal was to prototype a new state-of-the-art piece of equipment to test for bacteria from UTI’s with a 2-hr turn around time. Current tests take up to 48-hrs. We were able to successfully complete a functional prototype in just a few months using advanced manufacturing technologies along with fast production rates.

What most excites you about your field?

I love manufacturing engineering. My first job out of undergrad was designing and installing assembly lines for GM and Ford out of Detroit. Being able to see designs and ideas come alive and actually produce products that we use daily is what I love most about manufacturing.

What is your favorite thing about the Gunnison Valley?

My husband and I have been visiting the Gunnison Valley for over 10 years. We enjoy the outdoor accessibility and the people. Our favorite outdoor activities are skiing in the winter (both backcountry and resort) and mountain biking in the summer.


  • Blacklock J., Implementing lean thinking for curriculum development of a new advanced manufacturing program, ASEE (2020).
  • Blacklock J., Johnson K., Faculty interpretations of engineering students’ sociotechnical thinking, ASEE (2020).
  • Zou Y., Wan L., Blacklock J., Oupicky D., Mao G., In situ AFM analysis investigating disassembly of DNA nanoparticles and nanofilms, Nanotechnology for Nucleic Acid Delivery, 199-209 (2019).
  • Claussen S., Blacklock J., Tsai J., Johnson K., Pain and gain: barriers and opportunities for integrating sociotechnical thinking into diverse engineering courses, ASEE (2019).
  • Lydens J., Moskal B., Claussen S., Blacklock J., Johnson K., Measuring changes overtime in sociotechnical thinking: A survey validation model for sociotechnical habits of mind, ASEE (2018).
  • Blacklock J., Claussen S., Dave V., Marr J., Development of modules for teaching social justice across diverse engineering disciplines, NAE-CEES workshop, Washington DC (January 2017).
  • Blacklock J., Claussen S., WORK IN PROGRESS: Design, Creation and Assessment of Innovation Spaces Across an Engineering Campus, ASEE (2016)
  • Blacklock J., Mondry M., Disseminating Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiatives throughout a STEM Focused Campus – An Agile Experience, ASEE (2016).
  • Blacklock J., Dean J., Teaching and learning open-ended problem solving throughout a new degree program, ASEE (2015).
  • Blacklock J., Hands-on manufacturing concepts taught to sophomore level students during a unique Field Session experience, ASEE (2015).
  • Rodriguez D., Blacklock J., Letting students learn through making mistakes: Teaching hardware and software early in an academic career, ASEE (2015).
  • Blacklock J., Rodriguez D., Bach J., Burmeister J., Using hardware throughout a Mechanical Engineering curriculum to present open-ended design challenges to sophomore students, ASEE Rocky Mountain Chapter, (2015).
  • Blacklock, J., Building confidence and creativity for the next generation of thinkers, Boulder County Kids Health, (2014).
  • Mansfield E., Tyner K., Poling C., Blacklock J., Determination of nanoparticle surface coatings and nanoparticle purity using microscale thermogravimetric analysis, Anal Chem, 86(3), 1478-1484 (2014).

Courses Taught

  • CU-Boulder/Western
  • MCEN 4026: Manufacturing Processes & Systems
  • MCEN 4026: Manufacturing Hands-on Lab
  • GEEN 1400: Freshman Projects

External Professional Affiliations

  • CECWAC (College of Engineering and Computing Women’s Advisory Council) – Advisory Board Member
  • CU-Boulder – Senior Instructor

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