Colorado Mesa University and the University of Colorado are, you should forgive the terminology, engineering a new pathway to higher education in Colorado, and doing so in smart fashion.
Kelsi Middleton of Olathe is to graduate from the University of Colorado engineering school next month without have taken so much as a note in Boulder. All of her classes have been at Colorado Mesa University.
Middleton is able to earn her CU diploma without crossing the Continental Divide because of a program we think has proven worthy of expansion. The partnership program between the state’s flagship university and CMU puts top-quality training and smaller classes within the reach of people with small-town backgrounds and modest means, but who bring top-flight talent and ambition to the classroom.
Middleton and her companions in the class of 2013 will be the second cohort of graduates from the partnership program, and while Middleton’s success is a testament to her abilities, it’s also a reflection on the dedication of the faculties and administrations at both campuses, as well as that of John “Arch” Archuleta, a CU engineering grad who now lives in the Grand Valley.
Archuleta worked with both schools to make the partnership a reality, if a limited one. Graduates of the partnership earn a degree in mechanical engineering, one of many disciplines offered at the Boulder campus.
As Kelsi Middleton demonstrates, West Slope students can make the most of limited offerings and can do so at a lower costs. As the partnership is structured, engineering students at the CMU program pay CMU tuition for the first two years and CU tuition for the last two.
Tuition savings alone run about $10,000 and they can be augmented with judicious spending on living expenses, all of which have to make the CMU-CU partnership an attractive one, especially in an environment of rising college costs.
We hope it goes without saying that a vibrant and respected university is an integral part of the economy here in western Colorado, and that’s probably especially true for those in the engineering disciplines.
If western Colorado is to make the most of the state’s water, the state’s most varied energy supply, and the means by which we all wish to visit them, then engineers and others in the science-, technology-, engineering- and math-related disciplines are going to be necessary to the future, as will be those who labor in the agriculture industry.
Western Colorado frequently has Colorado’s last word on water, energy, food and tourism. We hope for more innovation among the state’s institutions of higher education and hope that other institutions will follow suit. Are you listening, Colorado State? Colorado School of Mines?