Newswise — The University of Colorado Boulder broke ground today on a new $82.5 million aerospace engineering building complete with an indoor flight environment for unmanned aircraft that will ensure the nationally ranked program continues to drive innovation into the future.
The state of Colorado is a hub of the nation’s aerospace industry, and the new 144,000-square-foot facility aims to put CU Boulder’s Ann and H.J. Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the center of that innovation.
“CU Boulder has long been at the forefront of aerospace education and research, and this new facility showcases our commitment to enhancing the ability of our students and faculty members to lead in a way that is innovative and impacts humanity in a positive way,” said CU Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano.
DiStefano and other guests, including College of Engineering and Applied Sciences Dean Bobby Braun, Jay Lindell of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, and CU alumna Kathryn Tobey, a Lockheed Martin Space Systems executive, joined students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members in kicking off construction of the new facility. It is slated to open in the summer of 2019 on CU Boulder’s East Campus.
CU Boulder’s aerospace engineering sciences graduate program is ranked among the top 10 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.
“This new facility will be transformational for the college and CU Boulder, and we couldn’t be more excited to share this day with alumni, faculty, students and industry partners who will benefit from the building and continue to drive our state’s innovation in aerospace to new heights,” Braun said.
A generous gift earlier this year from Ann Smead and Michael Byram, as well as a sponsorship by industry partner Lockheed Martin, already have CU Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) well on its way toward achieving its capital campaign fundraising goal for the project.
“Lockheed Martin doesn’t just need engineers. We need problem-solvers,” said Tobey, vice president and general manager of special programs at Lockheed Martin. “We need the people who transform ideas into results. That takes technical skill, business acumen and risk-taking. As a University of Colorado alumna, I know this school nurtures those leaders, and this building will shape the people who will shape our future, on this planet and beyond.”
The new building will combine world-class learning spaces with collaborative research areas that integrate student and faculty work and promote interdisciplinary endeavors that drive new discoveries and technologies.
The indoor flight environment will provide for the testing of unmanned aerial systems, while a unique roof design will accommodate faculty research and provide the sight lines necessary for activities like tracking satellites. The building will also include space modeled after the Integrated Teaching and Learning Laboratory, an award-winning, hands-on learning environment at CU Boulder’s engineering center that has proven crucial to student success. Other key features include a 200-seat auditorium, distance learning-equipped classrooms, faculty offices and spaces for graduate students.
“CU Boulder’s investment in this new facility will support not just Colorado’s workforce, but the research and partnership that will further drive our success as a state,” Lindell, aerospace and defense champion in Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office, said. “Together, we will ensure Colorado remains an international leader in aerospace innovation.”
The building’s location on East Campus, between the Sustainability, Energy and Environment Community (SEEC) and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics’ Space Sciences Building, will help create a hub for space-related programming, with other LASP facilities and the Astrophysical Research Laboratory just short walks away.
The current construction timeline means aerospace engineering students in this year’s freshman and sophomore classes will finish their undergraduate degrees in the new building. The design team for the building includes HCM Inc. and Ratio Architects, while the general contractor is Whiting-Turner Contracting Co.
Advancing CU Boulder sustainability goals, the building will incorporate construction practices and building features aimed at achieving at least LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification from the United States Green Building Council.