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Inclusive excellence for Colorado STEM jobs

By Cory Phare

June 6, 2017

With the upcoming launch of the new Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building, MSU Denver continues its ascendancy as one of the most diverse campuses in Colorado, preparing students for tomorrow’s workforce.
 
Since more than 75 percent of Roadrunners stay in Colorado, they will find a significant demand statewide for STEM-educated employees.  And because the STEM workforce that hails from MSU Denver is diverse, it will transform professions and communities regionally. 
 
“At some institutions, incoming classes in STEM fields may start with underrepresented populations, but don’t maintain it through degree completion,” said Joan Foster, dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, who was involved with the AES Building initiative. “We’ve really worked to make that not the case at MSU Denver.”
 
For Hsiu-Ping Liu, Ph.D., director of the Center of Advanced STEM Education and site coordinator for the Colorado-Wyoming Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (CO-WY AMP) program, the key is creating an infrastructure of success. 
 
“From critical thinking to problem solving, innovation, teamwork and sometimes just lending an ear, we do our best to help,” she said. “That’s why we’re here.”
 
The National Science Foundation-sponsored CO-WY-AMP provides financial, educational and personal support for students of color in STEM fields. In addition to structured efforts like one-on-one tutoring, standardizing research and a Passport to Success program, CO-WY AMP participants become part of a close-knit community of encouragement and assistance.
 
“That support system really helps,” Liu said. “We hear from students all the time it’s the opportunity to get to know other students, along with the financial and academic support we provide.”
 
And the result of such efforts? A fall-to-fall retention rate of more than 90 percent of participating students.
 
Programs like CO-WY AMP are just one example of the University’s contributions to the regional economy by preparing tomorrow’s multifaceted employees— many of whom will get hands-on training or STEM-related classes in the new AES Building. The new building’s facilities, the curricula it offers, and the students it will transform are part of the reason why many companies are choosing to partner with MSU Denver. They are looking forward to housing some of their operations within the building and being co-tenants with the new Advanced Manufacturing Sciences Institute, which will be located there.
 
Said Foster: “We’re helping to create Colorado’s workforce, and we’re graduating a diverse population in STEM fields – that’s really important work.”
 
Join your fellow Roadrunners for the AES Building ribbon cutting on June 22. 

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