New program at MSU Denver looking to plug aerospace skills gap

A Colorado university is leading the way in producing graduates to help fill a need in the local aerospace industry thanks to a ground breaking new program.

The Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) launched its Aerospace and Engineering Sciences initiative in March, a program which aims to produce workers who can build the spacecraft and satellites designed by engineers at local companies.

The program’s innovative features include a new $60m, 142,000 square feet facility that will house an integrated aviation and advanced-manufacturing program, as well as the current flight simulators, labs and modules being used by the university’s aviation and aerospace programs.

The new Aerospace and Engineering Sciences building is expected to open in 2017.

MSU Denver President Stephen Jordan said the program will prepare students to fill a gap in the state’s aerospace industry.

“Colorado has the second largest workforce in aerospace, but was not able to find people who did advanced manufacturing – assembling parts, designing systems and putting people out into space,” he said.

“The workforce need is still around that kind of person, and we really sat down with the industry and started to talk about, if we were to pull those programs together, to tell us what are the hard skills and the soft skills that will be needed.”

The Aerospace and Engineering Sciences initiative is a step towards fixing a problem known in the state as the ‘Colorado Paradox’.

Colorado has one of the highest college attainment rates in the country (47.6%), but the state falls toward the bottom of states nationwide when measuring how many local high school students graduate from college.

The new MSU Denver program aims to produce local aerospace talent for a local industry in need of these particular workers.

It was designed to for students to develop not only technical but soft skills, and brings together students from different fields including computer programming, mathematics and engineering, to collaborate on projects involving aerospace design, robotics and conducting experiments through the use of launching high-altitude weather balloons.