Thomas James “TJ” De Cino, Ph.D., a longtime educator and a foundational member of the Department of Aviation and Aerospace Science, died at his home in Pine on Nov. 16 at the age of 63.  

The De Cino family invites the Metropolitan State University of Denver community to join them in a celebration-of-life ceremony and reception at Mountain View Christian Church, 40 E. Highlands Ranch Parkway, on Dec. 8 at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family has established the Dr. TJ De Cino Memorial Fund to support student internships.  

A Colorado native, De Cino began his higher-education journey at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in Business and Computer Information Systems. After advancing through information-technology roles at IBM and QMS, he became a Roadrunner, returning to the classroom to complete another bachelor’s degree in Aviation Technology from MSU Denver. He later earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in Computing Technology in Education from Nova Southeastern University. His dissertation focused on pilot training and learning with glass-flight-deck technologies. 

For well over two decades De Cino prepared and inspired students to succeed in aeronautics and space flight science. He began managing the World Indoor Airport within MSU Denver’s Aviation and Aerospace Science Department in 2001. During his tenure, he reorganized and expanded the simulation, computer-based training, and virtual-learning-technology resources to include more than $40 million worth of high-technology virtual training and aviation-simulation equipment. He also became an expert voice in educational technologies, online education systems, aircraft and air traffic control simulation systems, computer and information-systems engineering and usability studies. 

“TJ was a very dear friend and career colleague to many of us on campus,” said Jeff Forrest, Ph.D., chair of Aviation and Aerospace Science. It was through his knowledge and wisdom that we established the World Indoor Airport and our Aeronautics and Aerospace Systems Laboratories as nationally recognized state-of-the-art collegiate training facilities.” 

In addition to spending more than 20 years in higher education teaching and mentoring students, De Cino was a pilot and enjoyed hiking, biking, fishing, and boating. He will be remembered by his wife Jill, children Tom and Andria, stepdaughter Rachel, his granddaughters, several siblings, and dog Lucy as well as a large and loving extended family and many colleagues and friends.