Quality of CMU programs more than meets the eye

Around the same time a couple of years ago, each of us were working to launch technology businesses right here in Colorado’s Grand Valley.

We recognized that another valley a tad further west is more synonymous with tech startups, but we both love Grand Junction and we see vast potential in terms of building our own cache in this very competitive space.

Naturally, one of the first concerns each of us worried about was how we were going to fill key positions within our companies with qualified individuals who wanted to live in Grand Junction. As two of the inaugural companies working through the Colorado Rural Jumpstart program, one of our first conversations was with Colorado Mesa University.

We learned about the wide range of academic programs ranging from technical certificates all the way up through Ph,D. programs, and talked about what types of students we’d be interested in hiring as our companies grew.

Right away, we were connected with professors and staff across CMU who have gone out of their way to connect us with students looking for internships and jobs in our companies.

Over the past two years, Kaart has hired six CMU graduates to full-time permanent positions currently on staff in downtown Grand Junction and an additional 12 students interns, five of whom are currently on staff.  Further, we expect to be hiring an additional 15 full-time positions soon, some of which will likely be filled from a cross section of CMU program enrollees.

At ProStar, we’ve brought a number of CMU interns into our company and two of them have converted to full-time positions. In addition to the talent pipeline, ProStar has also developed cooperative projects with the CMU Energy Management/Landman program and the CMU Unconventional Energy Center to research unique ways our proprietary technology can be deployed within the energy sector. This research is underpinning jobs.

To be sure, our companies require eclectic skill sets ranging from geographic information systems to geology, computer science and energy management. To our great delight, finding a qualified workforce to facilitate the growth of our companies has not been a problem given our direct connection with CMU.

In the Computer Science Department, for example, ProStar has been blown away with the talent, expertise and, frankly, work ethic we’ve experienced with students coming out of the program.  For the positions we’re hiring for, we stack them up against graduates from numerous other prestigious universities we’ve hired from in the past. 

While some “Eeyores” in the community seem to be focused on cursing the darkness, we’re excited to be part of the coalition working to light candles. Our companies have plenty to worry about as we work to get Colorado’s Grand Valley on the tech map.  Fortunately, having a higher education partner eager and willing to work with us isn’t a worry here in Grand Junction.

Page Tucker is CEO of ProStar Geocorp, headquartered in Grand Junction.  Aaron Young is President and CEO of Kaart, also headquartered in Grand Junction.


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