ALAMOSA – Adams State University and Colorado State University are teaming up to launch a mechanical engineering degree at Adams State under a Memorandum of Understanding adopted unanimously Friday by the ASU Board of Trustees. The new mechanical engineering degree will be entirely located at Adams State.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between outlines expectations going forward to develop a partnership for delivering an accredited Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering on Adams State’s campus in Alamosa. Consistent with their collaboration to date, both universities agree to make every good faith effort to develop this partnership for this degree program to begin to enroll students as soon as Fall 2022 semester.
Adams State’s much-improved financial position over the past two years gave Trustees the confidence to move forward with the proposal. Board Chair Michele Lueck called it a “legacy project” for Adams State as it works to grow strategically with new degree offerings.
“The timing is right,” said Lueck. “Financially we are in a very good position. If I look 10 years back, we are in the best financial position we’ve been in to make a big bet like this.”
The overarching goal for developing the program is to provide opportunities to historically underserved students in rural Colorado. Adams State enrolls a large number of Pell-eligible and first-generation college students. Due to financial constraints, many of these students are not able to pursue higher education opportunities outside of the San Luis Valley.
Strong economic growth in the state of Colorado over the past decade has resulted in increased demand for degreed engineers. There are currently 64,100 engineers employed in the state of Colorado, of which 5,580 are mechanical engineers with an average annual salary of $103,180. Mechanical engineering is the most popular undergraduate engineering major in the U.S., with 35,400 bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2019, which is nearly double the number of mechanical engineering bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2010 (18,400). As such, there is substantial need to increase, and demand for, the number of degreed mechanical engineers in the state of Colorado and nationally. The proposed program seeks to address this need.
“I am extremely excited in terms of what it can do for this community,” said Adams State Trustee Randy Wright of Alamosa, who noted the establishment of a mechanical engineering degree at Adams State has been a goal of his since he was first appointed to the Board in 2014.
Under the MOU, Adams State will provide all lower division (100 and 200-level) courses and CSU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering will provide all upper division (300 and 400-level) courses on the Adams State campus. The upper division courses will be taught by CSU Department of Mechanical Engineering faculty who are permanently located in Alamosa.
Adams State will also plan to develop an associate’s degree linked to the successful completion of the lower division courses outlined in the degree plan. This AS degree may be attractive to potential students who do not feel ready to commit to a 4-year degree, but are interested in mechanical engineering. This two-year degree could also appeal to the first-generation and low-income students Adams State serves, who are more inclined to pursue stackable credentials or have reservations about beginning a four-year degree commitment.
Upon successful completion of the lower division courses, students will be evaluated for admission into the Bachelor of Science program and associated continuation into the upper-division courses. A special CSU admissions process will be developed in conjunction with the CSU Admission and Registrar’s offices that seeks to provide a seamless transition into the Bachelor of Science program and is consistent with requirements for current CSU Fort Collins mechanical engineering undergraduate students. This admissions process will be in place by the Fall 2022 semester and once students are admitted into this program will be considered CSU students with all of the rights and responsibilities associated with this designation.
For Financial Aid purposes, students will be considered ASU students for the first two years, and until they are admitted to the CSU mechanical engineering program. They will complete their FAFSA and any financial aid documents through ASU’s Financial Aid Office. Should they enroll in any CSU courses during the first two years, ASU and CSU Financial Aid Offices will coordinate to make sure all credits are included in the aid awarded in a consortium agreement. Upon acceptance into the CSU mechanical engineering program, students will become CSU students. Their FAFSA and financial aid will be processed through CSU’s Financial Aid Office.
Christian Puttlitz, Ph.D., head of Department of Mechanical Engineering at CSU, said he is confident the program will attract students in rural communities across the San Luis Valley and Colorado. He is also excited to place CSU faculty in Alamosa for the program and given the difference in cost of living between Fort Collins and Alamosa, said he doesn’t believe he will have any problem finding faculty who want to live in Alamosa.