Bambi Harmon says that the anticipation level grows almost daily.
“We can’t wait to move in,” remarks Harmon of the new engineering building on the main campus of Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Harmon is the operations manager for the well-regarded John McConnell Math and Science Center, which last year entered into a partnership with CMU that is, among other things, increasing opportunities for teacher education students to work hands-on with elementary, middle school, and high school students who are a part of the McConnell Center.
But perhaps the biggest advantage to the partnership for the Center, which boasts science, technology, engineering, and math classes for pre-college students, is that it will soon be a part of the new CMU engineering building.
“We’re going to have a little bit more than double our current space,” says Harmon of the McConnell Center portion of the soon-to-be completed engineering building.
Altogether, the Center will take up some 14,000 square feet of the 68,700 square-foot engineering building.
Photo courtesy of CMU
“We will still be a separate stand-alone operation,” Harmon says of the Center’s coming operations on the CMU campus, “but with the move there will be more collaboration between our center and the school than ever before.”
CMU officials broke ground on the new engineering building in an elaborate ceremony last September which saw CMU President Tim Foster declare that the new structure will represent the school’s “commitment to the relationship with our students.”
Foster additionally noted that it was “incumbent upon the university to provide students with facilities and technology to support them in reaching their educational goals.”
The $25.4 million building, going up at 1410 N. Seventh Street on the southeast side of the campus, will house classrooms, engineering labs, and project space, all designed to serve the needs of students who can receive either a two-year degree in mechanical engineering, or through a partnership with the University of Colorado, a four-year degree.
Plans for the new structure have long been in the talking stage at CMU—and long needed.
“The current engineering facility is 3 miles off campus,” notes Timothy Brower, director of the CMU/University of Colorado-Boulder Mechanical Engineering Partnership Program.
“We have outgrown the current facility,” continues Brower. “Classrooms are too small and there is no room for office space for the faculty.”
So tight has space been at the Archuleta Engineering Center, adds Brower, that “I took an office in the storage closet this last fall to make room for two new faculty.”
Work on the new engineering facility comes during a time of unprecedented building activity at CMU.
Photo courtesy of CMU
“We’ve had quite a bit of new construction taking place, throughout the entire campus,” notes Dana Nunn, director of media relations at CMU.
Among the projects is the $25 million renovation of the school’s Tomlinson Library, adding 26,000 square feet to an existing 68,000 square-foot building, and including a 200-seat dining hall and 3,700 square-foot event space.
CMU’s residential Pinon Hall has been renovated and updated and is now the home to the Maverick Innovation Center, blending apartments, dorm rooms, and workspace all in one building.
Meanwhile, work is expected to be completed soon on the revamping of the former Community Hospital on the north side of the campus, a $14.7 million project seeing the demolition of 50,000 square feet of the existing structure, the remodeling of 24,000 square feet in that same building, and the addition of 10,000 square feet of new space.
That new space will house offices, classrooms and simulation labs.
The various cross-campus construction projects, say CMU officials, reflect the school’s growth. CMU’s enrollment was below 8,000 as recently as 2009, but is now just under the 11,000 mark, a historic high.
By Garry Boulard
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