Stand anywhere on campus with Wade Troxell, and he’ll tell you stories about notable CSU people drawing from his personal experience from his Fort Collins childhood until today.
Stories about the families that everyone at CSU recognizes – the Eddys, the Shepardsons, the Christensens, McGraws and many more.
But Troxell is also creating his own legacy: This year, he celebrates 35 years in the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering and election to his third term as Fort Collins mayor.
“I’ve had most of my significant events in my life – from my dad serving on the faculty and administration, growing up next to campus, to playing football, to meeting my wife while being a grad student, to raising my children then having them earn their CSU degrees, to serving as faculty and administrator –at CSU and in this community,” he said. “The people at CSU and the community have just been wonderful. Positive, encouraging, supportive people.”
Growing up in Fort Collins, Troxell came to CSU on a football scholarship in 1975 and planned to study wildlife biology. He quickly transferred into engineering science, earning a bachelor’s degree while playing football serving as captain and earning honorable mention All Western Athletic Conference. He also was involved in student leadership in the college and university.
For the football team, he started every regular game for four years, except one. As a relatively small lineman and considering a pro career, he was satisfied snapping balls for the Denver Broncos during the 1980 summer camp lining up against the “Orange Crush” defense before he started graduate school in the fall.
He earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering at CSU and joined the faculty in 1985.
As a mechanical engineering faculty member and a fellow in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Troxell still gets energized working with students and design projects. His senior design project as an undergraduate was an interactive variable microprocessor-controlled exercise machine, which led to his M.S. degree on the topic. He earned a Ph.D. in robotics and automatic plan generation for robotic assembly. He was a NATO Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Edinburgh in the intelligent robotics group for a year.
Put simply, he was working on artificial intelligence before it was cool. And now, he incorporates a public policy dimension as well. In 2018, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao appointed him to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Drone Advisory Committee.
“A.I. is so prevalent now in transportation systems like autonomous cars and unmanned aviation vehicles,” Troxell said. “Things might ebb but they eventually come back. That’s an important lesson – keep to the fundamentals, stay engaged and stay relevant in your research and teaching.”
That passion for working with industry and new product development has morphed into public policy where he encourages public-private partnerships with a great research university to promote Fort Collins’ economy. Troxell has been on city council since 2007, first as a councilmember serving eight years for District 4 and four years as mayor.
“I have been so fortunate to know many great CSU icons as my advisers, mentors, students, colleagues, coaches and classmates that have made CSU what it is today – a premier land grant research university,” said Troxell, who is focused on the next 50 years for Fort Collins. “I feel that it is my responsibility as a faculty member and as mayor that we need to do our part to make CSU and our community an even better place for future generations.”