Celebrating the Career of Dr. Patrick Fitzhorn

“MY GOAL IS TO LEAVE THE DEPARTMENT IN A STRONG, VIABLE, AND SUSTAINABLE POSITION THAT CONTINUES TO EMBRACE GROWTH, WHILE FOCUSING ATTENTION ON THE SUCCESS OF EACH STUDENT.”

fitzhorn newThese were Dr. Patrick Fitzhorn’s words a few years ago. This couldn’t be truer, as the department is flourishing due to Dr. Fitzhorn’s advancements over the course of a
successful 33-year career.

To say that Dr. Fitzhorn taught 28 different courses during his time in the department and was invested in undergraduate and graduate engineering education would be scratching the surface.

In 1983, Dr. Fitzhorn started as a mechanical engineering instructor, but not for long. He strived to improve the department and college with each new position he obtained. First, assistant professor, then associate professor a few short years later. In 2007, he became the associate department head for undergraduate studies and then the associate dean for undergraduate initiatives, all while maintaining his teaching load as associate professor. He was also passionate about the Center for Computer Assisted Engineering, for which he became the associate director in 1985, then the director in 1994.

We would need pages and pages to cover all of Dr. Fitzhorn’s accomplishments throughout his extensive career at CSU, but we’ve listed some highlights below that are nothing short of remarkable.

He has been involved in every major redesign of the mechanical engineering undergraduate curriculum since the late 1980s – weaving engineering computing and design into core course threads. He revamped the senior design experience to focus on major group projects, encouraging a concurrent engineering
theme and strong deliverables, and is one of the few faculty to teach both incoming freshmen and final semester seniors during the same academic year. Dr. Fitzhorn spearheaded the two largest and most comprehensive undergraduate mechanical engineering curriculum changes: creating the engineering design courses and design threads and embedding statistical analysis through the curriculum.

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Dr. Fitzhorn teaches his students with the help of a furry robotic friend.

Dr. Fitzhorn served the department and college as chair of the College Curriculum Committee from 2003-2009 and has been a member since 2010. He served the college as a member of the University Curriculum Committee from 1997-2000 and 2005-2015 and also served as associate dean for undergraduate initiatives from 2011-2012.

Sue James, head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, added, “There’s no doubt Dr. Fitzhorn transformed the mechanical engineering department at CSU into what it is today. He had already been associate department head for several years when I became head of the department in 2010. I could not have done my job without Patrick’s tremendous support and help Together, we oversaw the largest enrollment growth in the department’s 130-plus-year history and, without Patrick, I would have lost my sanity!”

We wish him a wonderful retirement, and many continued years of success. Congratulations and best wishes on your retirement, Professor Fitzhorn!