Published: Nov. 11, 2018 By

CU Engineering is now offering a global aerospace engineering degree track, allowing students to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, minor in computer science, study abroad experience and co-op work experience in just five years.

The innovative new track provides students with the education and experience they need to be even more competitive in the aerospace job market, which already recruits heavily from CU Boulder. And it provides excellent value for students and their families.

“This new track was created in direct response to student demand for more semester-long study-abroad opportunities and more computing skills,” said Andrew Wingfield, director of international programs in the College of Engineering and Applied Science. “Aerospace students who complete the program will graduate incredibly well-rounded and with a richer undergraduate experience.”

Students spend the first two-and-a-half years following the regular progression of aerospace courses and taking foundational courses in the computer science minor before selecting the global track in January of their third year. During that spring semester, students will apply to a study abroad program with a strong basis in computer science.

Currently, pre-approved study abroad programs in computer science are offered at nearly two dozen highly-regarded universities in 13 countries, with more being added over time.

Did you know? Aerospace engineers are increasingly looking to boost their computing skills. As of fall 2018, 45 aerospace undergrads also had declared a computer science minor. In fact, nearly a third of all computer science minors within engineering are earned by students majoring in aerospace.

While abroad in fall of their fourth year, students will continue working toward the computer science minor and take humanities and social science courses to continue their degree progress while also applying for co-ops back in the United States. Students bear the responsibility for arranging the co-op with a company of their choosing, though resources are available to help connect with industry partners.

When they return stateside, students will work alongside professionals through the spring and summer, earning valuable real-world experience and, in many cases, competitive wages. They’ll return to campus in fall for their fifth and final year of aerospace engineering courses.

Any student making adequate progress toward the aerospace degree and computer science minor may declare the track, though students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better to remain competitive for industry co-ops.

In most cases, scholarships can be applied to study abroad, and wages earned during the student’s co-op also can help offset the cost of the additional fifth year. During the co-op, students will not pay tuition to CU Boulder.

“We know that study abroad experiences enrich students’ personal and professional lives for years to follow, and it’s a personal goal to bring these opportunities within reach for more engineering students, who traditionally study abroad at lower rates than the broader CU student body,” Wingfield said. “This pathway provides tremendous value for students and their families.”

If qualified, current juniors majoring in aerospace engineering could begin declaring the new track as soon as January 2019, Wingfield said. If the program shows promise, it may serve as a model for other engineering majors and could include other minors in addition to computer science.