Photo of two young men working on a science project together

The Colorado Community College System’s five metro-area colleges will join a new consortium led by the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) that aims to diversify the engineering field.

Funded by a $10.9 million grant from the Office of Naval Research, the Denver-Metro Engineering Consortium (DMEC) will develop a seamless engineering transfer pathway geared toward underrepresented students. The consortium includes Community College of Aurora (CCA), Community College of Denver (CCD), CU Boulder and the University of Colorado Denver, with Arapahoe, Front Range, Red Rocks Community Colleges joining in the coming years.

“We are honored to be one of the Denver-Metro institutions selected for this impactful grant,” said CCD president Marielena P. DeSanctis, Ph.D. “By creating synergy between the two-year and four-year institutions, we’re able to deliver on the promise of equitable access to education and upward economic mobility through traditional and leading-edge STEM careers.”

Led by CU Boulder, the supported pathway will include a summer bridge program for high school seniors transitioning to community college, intensive wraparound academic and social support at the community college level, mentoring and transfer guidance at the university level, and paid research opportunities and internships.

“ACC is very excited to be part of the DMEC,” said Chris Juarez, dean of mathematics and sciences at Arapahoe Community College (ACC). “Through this collaboration, ACC will expand its efforts in providing STEM education with an emphasis on innovative and inclusive pedagogy.”

The first cohort of students started this fall at CCA with high school recruitment kicking off in the spring of 2023.

“CCA is thankful for the partnership with CU Boulder. As an institution we will continue to invest in academic programming that will propel our students from the classroom into high-wage and high earning career fields. This is just the first step,” said CCA president Dr. Mordecai Brownlee.

In addition to academic support, the program will host presentations with defense-related contractors to spark students’ interest in STEM careers.

“We expect this project to make a significant impact on the opportunities that underrepresented students have to pursue a degree in engineering,” said Nick Sites, lead on the grant and director of the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program at CU Boulder. “There is this whole population of diverse community college students who have talent and rich life experiences, but who often don’t pursue STEM careers. We want to provide pathways for those students into the field of engineering.”

For more information, read the announcement in CU Boulder Today.