Metro State and Lockheed Martin partner, targeting aerospace careers.

Author:Sukin, Gigi
Position:STATE of the STATE

Filling the skill gap and workforce diversity were hot topics at the groundbreaking of Metropolitan State University Denver's $60 million Aerospace and Engineering Sciences (AES) building last fall. The new 118,000-square-foot, four-story facility will house laboratories, classrooms and spaces such as the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing.

The AESfacility is expected to open by start of fall semester 2017, and will be home to a program MSU created collaboratively with the state space industry, one of many public-private partnerships the growing city university has pursued.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems, based in Littleton, has been closely involved in the AES project, teaming up on a cooperative program that links the classroom to practical professional experience.

"The Lockheed Martin-MSU partnership has been a win-win," said John Heyliger, director of talent acquisition and workforce strategy at Lockheed Martin. "We came together because we both have the same goal: Develop a diverse, creative pool of outstanding engineers who learn and work in Colorado's thriving aerospace industry."

University President Stephen Jordan decided to chip away at the advanced-manufacturing challenge in Colorado, both with AES and by bringing together six departments at the university that were "vertically aligned"--electrical engineering, computer sciences and mechanical engineering technology--creating an integrated curriculum that applies to the study of manufacturing.

"I think higher ed in general is known to be vertically aligned," Jordan said. "In academic departments, nothing goes sideways. And what's made it more difficult on our campus is we have three different institutions sharing the same buildings," he said, referring to the Community College of Denver and University of Colorado Denver also on the Auraria campus. "In the work place, there isn't just a single discipline. There's the achievement of a goal and people all working together in an integrated way."

So Jordan and his collaborators asked themselves: How can you create horizontal relationships?

"Bring them together into a single physical space," Jordan said.

Togetherness is also reflected in MSU Denver's commitment to diversity. Because one in five Coloradans is Latino and that population is the fastest-growing segment in the state, the university has publicly pledged to achieve the federal designation of Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) by increasing its Latino enrollment to 25...

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