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James Tinjum
September 25, 2019

Tinjum named new leader for GLE program

Written By: Alex Holloway

James Tinjum has high expectations for the College of Engineering’s Geological Engineering Program.

Tinjum, an associate professor with a background in geological engineering, has been named the program’s new director. Geological Engineering is housed in the college’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

“I’d like us to be recognized in the top tier; without question, the top-five geological engineering programs in the nation,” he says. “It’s a smaller discipline, so there are not as many programs, but pushing us as far as that top one or two would definitely be my goal as far as reputation and respect for our students and our graduate program.”

Now in his twelfth year as a professor at UW-Madison, Tinjum brings experience not only from his years of work in academia, but also 13 years of industry experience with firms in Peoria, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Madison. He focuses on environmental and energy geotechnics.

Tinjum’s environmental work has included contaminated site remediation and landfill design, development and operation. His energy research has included sustainable energy systems including campus-scale geothermal exchange and wind energy balance-of-plant design.

Coming into the program director role, Tinjum says he plans to establish and strengthen connections with significant companies in the energy sector that routinely seek the program’s students. And, to help propel growth and innovation within the program, he also plans to work with industry to better understand the skillsets students need to be successful on the job.

As the world turns more toward sustainable energy sources, Tinjum says the program is well-positioned to continue preparing students for career in all aspects of energy, from oil and gas through today’s evolving renewable energy alternatives.

“The world is shifting to renewable and sustainable resources across the board,” Tinjum says. “It’s a good fit for what we do at Wisconsin because, internationally, the entire university has long been known as a standard-bearer for sustainable practices. In decades prior, we really led a lot of the environmental engineering and sustainable movement, so in my mind this is just a natural progression into sustainable energy practices.”

Beyond the energy industry, Tinjum says the program will focus on providing a breadth of training for students.

And he also hopes geological engineering—which tends to be a major that students transfer into—can become more recognizable to incoming students.

“Geological engineering is not something that most high school students have at the tip of their tongue,” he says. “That’s a challenge we face—making sure the students coming in, especially incoming freshmen, are aware of what the opportunities are and the types of companies and opportunities they can have coming through this degree.”