Colorado university sets up Spanish-only dorm

BOULDER — A new dormitory at the University of Colorado will require students in the engineering program to speak Spanish as part of an effort to build a global workforce.

The university said engineering consulting firms have been rapidly expanding their international portfolios over the past 10 years, and the largest engineering firms now earn more than 50 percent of their income from international projects.

The university has future plans to add programs for students who speak French, Portuguese, Arabic and Mandarin Chinese.

“What we’re telling everyone is that it will be 24/7 Spanish,” said Diane Sieber, faculty director of the new global engineering residential academic program.

The university says students will have the chance to become fluent in a foreign language; learn about the latest international telecommunications tools for working on international development projects; and better understand the engineering needs of the world.

There also will be social and cultural events such as movie nights, dance lessons and cooking international fare in the dorm’s community kitchen.

Unlike traditional Spanish language academic programs, the new program will help students learn the technological and field-related terminology they’ll need for working internationally, said Stephen Kissler, an applied math student who will be a student-mentor in the program.

Andy Hemphill, a civil engineering student who has taken three trips to Rwanda through Engineers Without Borders, also will be among the mentors living in the new dorm.

Hemphill was part of the honors engineering program and said the small programs add to the undergraduate experience, the Boulder Daily Camera reported Tuesday.

“I think CU can be extremely overwhelming when you first arrive as an 18-year-old,” he said. “Finding that small community helps incoming students get a sense of what they want to do and helps them learn more about themselves. It’s enriching.”



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