Published: May 26, 2022 By

CMU's Confluence Hall at twilightColorado Mesa University and CU Boulder celebrated the first two graduates of the CMU/CU Boulder Engineering Partnership Program in electrical and computer engineering this month.

Julio Puentes and Gerrold Wilkerson are the first students to complete the electrical and computer engineering degree, which launched in 2018. The partnership program, which also includes degrees in mechanical and civil engineering, allows students to earn a Bachelor of Science degree from CU Boulder without leaving the CMU campus in Grand Junction, Colorado.

They were also the first graduating class for Teaching Assistant Professor Sumeet Chaudhary, a CU Boulder faculty member who began living and teaching in Grand Junction in 2021. Chaudhary said it was a great pleasure to work with Puentes and Wilkerson.

“Both of them were extremely sincere in their work,” he said. “As their instructor, I have observed that they look at an engineering problem from all angles and always come up with multiple solutions for a given problem.”

We asked the Puentes and Wilkerson to share some of their experiences with the partnership program.

Julio Puentes

What is your hometown?

I am from Aguascalientes, Mexico, a small state at the center of the country. I came to the United States seven years ago.

Why did you choose the CMU-CU partnership program?

My family and I lived in Montrose, CO. I did not want to leave them after only two years of living in the United States, so I decided to start college at CMU. First, my plan was to transfer after a couple of years because at that moment they only had the mechanical engineering program. After my first year at CMU, they started the electrical and computer engineering program, and I decided to give it a chance. Now that I am graduating, I do not regret that decision. 

What advice would you give to other students either considering this program or going through it now?

Do not be afraid of any class or concept! I think everybody can make it with enough patience and motivation. It is not easy, but I love the satisfaction I get after finishing a project or applying a concept I learn in a class to a real-life problem.

What are your plans after graduation?

I want to get a job and gain some industry experience, but after a few years, I want to continue my education, getting a doctorate in electrical engineering to build a career in academia and become a university professor.

Is there anything else you want to share?

I believe the program is a really good option for people that want a good education in a small town. The professors care a lot about the success of the students, and they will work as hard as they can to make every student the best engineer.        

Gerrold Wilkerson

What is your hometown?

My hometown is Grand Junction, Colorado.

Why did you choose the CMU-CU partnership program?

I chose the CMU-CU partnership program because it was more affordable than going to CU Boulder for the entirety of my degree. It also helped that it was closer to home.

What was your favorite electrical and computer engineering course?

My favorite course in the program has to be Control System Analysis.

What advice would you give to other students either considering this program or going through it now?

My only advice for other students in any degree is to learn how to manage your time.

What are your plans after graduation?

My plans after graduation include looking for employment and/or looking into master's degree programs.