Published: April 26, 2022 By

Jenna Nielson
Jenna Nielson

The Colorado Engineering Council selected Jenna Nielson, a senior majoring in chemical and biological engineering, as this year’s Silver Medal Award recipient. The Silver Medal Award is one of the highest honors an engineering student in Colorado can receive. Nielson also earned an Academic Engagement Award this semester.

Denver Business Challenge Endowed Professor and department chair Will Medlin, Assistant Professor Adam Holewinski and Teaching Associate Professor Wendy Young nominated Nielson.

Nielson’s academic and personal accomplishments include extensive volunteer work with the Engineering Excellence Fund (EEF) as both a student board member and chair. She also worked as a research assistant in the Boulder Experimental Electronics and Manufacturing (BEEM) lab and as a course assistant in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

Reflecting on her accomplishments, she offered some advice for those considering a career in engineering.

“I would advise future students to establish boundaries between school and their personal lives,” Nielson said. “Personally, I made Saturdays my ‘off-day,’ and it was a great chance to recover from the previous week. I would also recommend exploring as many new things as possible, and to not rule out subjects before giving them a chance. I enjoyed the opportunities to see what other engineers were doing through my work for the EEF, and I would definitely suggest doing something similar.”

Although Nielson originally intended to pursue a career in a biology-related field, she was inspired to change her focus when she recognized the energy industry’s impact on climate change.

"I will work to reduce the impacts that the energy industry has on the environment, either by mitigating the effects of traditional energy sources or working to improve renewable energy options,” Nielson said. She recently accepted a process engineer position with Phillips 66 in Hoboken, New Jersey.

“Jenna is a fantastic student, and this recognition is well-deserved,” said Teaching Associate Professor Wendy Young. “While maintaining impressive grades at CU, Jenna has simultaneously been involved in an enormous number of activities ranging from years of research, chairing the EEF Committee and serving as an outstanding course assistant for multiple classes. In fact, her excellence as a course instructor also earned her the college’s Academic Engagement Award. We here at the department are thrilled she earned this prestigious award and know she will do well as she continues her engineering journey.”

Nielson credited family, faculty and friends for her success during her time at the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

“I'd like to thank my family for their unwavering support throughout my degree and my professors for their lessons and advice,” Nielson said. “I also would not have survived this major without my friends and roommates, who always made my days better. I'm also grateful to the EEF board and my graduate student for the friendships made while working long hours.”

Students from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering have also earned the Silver Medal Award in 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2016. The department will honor the class of 2022 on Thursday, May 5.