Last week Vanessa Luna recommended that I interview Jeff Venicx, explaining that he seemed “pretty cool” — something that I can verify after chatting with Jeff this week. Jeff is a Masters student in Electrical Engineering who is the team lead for the CU robosub team, and is building up the CU robotics club. Although he is not in the CS department, Jeff has been instrumental in building and growing our community.
When Jeff graduated from high school in Kansas, he attended Kansas University for one semester before moving to Winter Park to become a snow bum. Jeff talks about his time in Winter Park as one full of friends, a supportive community, and great fun. When he moved back to Denver he “putzed around” for a while, working as a barback at Beta Nightclub. Jeff then began attending Metropolitan State University of Denver (Metro) before transferring to CU for his undergraduate, and now Masters, degree in Electrical Engineering. Since playing with legos and robotics kits as a child, Jeff has always been interested in robotics. It is this passion of his which is now transforming the robotics community at Boulder. Jeff works hard to collaborate with professors and local companies to provide new robotics experiences and opportunities for students. He hopes that this work will lead to a robotics major on campus.
When Jeff started at CU there was no robotics club and the robosub team only had about seven members. Jeff’s enthusiasm and passion for robotics, combined with his tremendous efforts for outreach and support have expanded this team to about fifty members and an additional robotics club. Jeff says that helping younger students learn about robotics is extremely rewarding. He loves the “aha” moment that students feel upon figuring out a problem they’ve been stuck on a while. That this is the most rewarding aspect of Jeff’s activities is indicative of the support, encouragement, and expanding opportunities that he is bringing to our community.
When Jeff was a sophomore he was a part of the Engineering Leadership Program on campus, where he met Angela Thieman Dino. Jeff explained that undergraduates tend to experience an overwhelming four years of competition and pressure. Angela encouraged Jeff to continue and gave him the necessary support to help him get where he is today.
In a culture where we are always looking forward and aspiring towards our next goal, it’s difficult to reflect upon what we are most proud of. Jeff is proud of having made it this far, of making it through an engineering degree and growing the robotics program so much. Five years ago he would have never thought he’d be in graduate school, but here he is.
Jeff was born in Belgium and moved to the US when he was nine months old. All of his extended family still lives there!
Since moving to the US, Jeff has lived in six different states: Maine, Kentucky, New York, Texas, Kansas, and Colorado.
When Jeff was living as a “snow bum” in Winter Park, he also worked as a butcher at the local Safeway. Jeff also has Euler’s identity tattooed on his forearm and a mustache tattooed on his finger.
“It always works out in the end.” We all tend to worry and stress about little and big things that happen throughout the day or week. Take a deep breath and step back—generally everything will work out okay.
Is Jeff wearing a band T-shirt? He only buys band tees if he has gone to their show. Jeff loves talking about music, so ask him how the show was!