Losing Jarad Prinkey will leave a hole in the Swanson School

Jarad W. Prinkey, a member of the first bioengineering class at the Swanson School of Engineeering in 2000 — whose subsequent work as a staff member was vital to several Swanson programs — died April 23, 2021 at 43.

Most recently, as research engineer at the Swanson Center for Product Innovation – Professional/Industrial beginning in 2018, Prinkey worked with researchers in primary product development for potential commercialization, taking ideas and coming up with the right technology to develop prototypes — then constructing them himself. He worked under Assistant Dean of Engineering Schohn Shannon, director of SCPI2.

“Jarad was overall just a great person, both professionally and personally,” Shannon said. “He had an amazing broad knowledge in a lot of areas,” from electromechanical design to bioengineering and programming. “I have only run into one or two people who have had his broad capability in problem solving.

“A lot of meetings I put in with the client, Jarad would sit there and listen and just say, ‘Well, I did this, years ago,’ and he knew what could possibly be applied to solve this problem,” Shannon recalled. “It was amazing how he could apply his knowledge to accomplish what we needed to accomplish for the task.

“He was very personable and worked well with undergraduate students, all the way up to faculty — across the board,” he added.

Bioengineering faculty member Mark Redfern hired Prinkey from Swanson’s 2000 class as a research engineer for his Human Movement and Balance Lab. “His expertise in designing and building experimental equipment and data acquisition systems made him a key member of our team,” Redfern wrote in a remembrance sent to colleagues. “Clearly, we would not have had the successes we did without his contributions.”

Redfern told the University Times: “He was such a nice person, very friendly, always there to help you. None of us remember him saying a bad word about anybody.”

David Vorp, associate dean for research in the Swanson School, said Prinkey was widely known at the University Club as well, where he lunched but also could be found at many of their social events. “He had this smile that always looked like he was up to something,” Vorp remembered. “He was very talented at what he did, and he will be sorely missed. He will be leaving a gap here in the school.”

Born Feb. 27, 1978 in Marietta, Ohio, Prinkey graduated from Middletown High School and followed his Pitt bioengineering degree with a master’s degree here in the same program. Alongside his Swanson work, he also served as a judge at both state and national science fairs for school-aged children.

He is survived by his parents, Lucy and Gary Prinkey; brother Josh Prinkey and his wife Jamie and their daughter, Sofia; maternal grandmother Shirley Davis and her companion, Richard Conn; paternal aunts Sharon Grimm and husband Russ, and Anita Barndt and husband Rick; as well as his great-aunt Jeanie DiSanto and extended family.

— Marty Levin