Published: April 3, 2024 By

Photo caption: Faculty member David Clough presentating research at a conference (early 1980s). 

Grad Student Dave Clough with computer system he built for his PhD research (1970s).
Grad Student Dave Clough with the computer system
he built for his PhD research (1970s).

Dave Clough (left) Tasmania with co-author Steve Chapra
Dave Clough (left) in Tasmania with co-author Steve

For most people, retirement means relaxation. For Professor Emeritus David Clough, it’s an opportunity for productivity and service.

Since retiring in 2017 from CU Boulder’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Clough has collaborated on three textbooks. He’s also regularly involved with students, participating in PhD committees and undergraduate activities alike. 

“Staying involved with young people keeps my mind active in engineering and science,” Clough said. “I find immense value in remaining engaged with the department and with writing about technical topics through textbooks. I could never find the time for the latter during my faculty career.”

Clough’s long history with CU Boulder’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering began almost 60 years ago. He earned an MS in chemical engineering in 1969 from the university, followed by a PhD in 1975. That same year he joined the chemical and biological engineering faculty; he has remained a departmental fixture ever since.

To this day Clough maintains an office in the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building and welcomes consultations with both faculty and students.  

He assists with the senior design courses alongside Professor Alan Weimer and Teaching Professor Wendy Young, offering workshops on computing as well as advising student design groups.  He also creates screencast tutorials, including a current project, a series of nine that help senior-level students learn three software packages — MATLAB, Python and Excel.

"Dave has been a wonderful resource for design students for years," Young said, noting that he recently created AutoCAD screencasts to aid students in creating P&IDs (Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams) and PFDs (Process Flow Diagrams).

With the assistance of Dana Hauschulz, a retired electronics engineer from the department, Clough renovated a portable module that provides students with hands-on experience in setting up and tuning control systems. Teaching Assistant Professor Ehsan Keyvani plans to incorporate the module into CHEN 4570 Instrumentation & Process Control lab exercises. Notably, Clough developed the CHEN 4570 course and taught it more than 30 times throughout his career.

Clough also advises graduate students in their research. He’s also been involved in several PhD committees and consults with doctoral candidates on applied statistics and experimental design.

Since retirement, he has collaborated on three textbooks with Professor Emeritus Steve Chapra of Tufts University. The first, “Applied Numerical Methods with Python for Engineers and Scientists,” adapted Chapra’s popular MATLAB-based numerical methods text into Python. The second, “Introduction to Engineering and Scientific Computing with Python,” draws from the two professors’ decades of teaching the Introduction to Engineering computing course, which they introduced to CU Boulder in the late 1980s. Their latest collaboration, “Spreadsheet Problem Solving and Programming for Engineers and Scientists,” is based on 30 years of teaching spreadsheet problem-solving to engineering students and professionals.

For his next project, Clough will collaborate with Chapra in a new edition of Chapra’s MATLAB-based numerical methods text.

Later this spring, Clough and Weimer will present their Most Improved Student award, which includes a monetary prize donated by the two professors. Originating in the late 1990s, the annual award recognizes an undergraduate student who has demonstrated a dramatic improvement in academic performance throughout their time in the department.  

"Dave is an incredible professor who never stops helping," Weimer said.  "Thank you for all you have done, are doing and will do in the future."

Dave Clough surrounded by his students in 2015
Professor Dave Clough surrounded by his ChEN 4570 students (2015).

Professor Clough can be reached via email at