The College of Engineering and Applied Science joined a partner university to celebrate a new state-of-the-art facility dedicated to training future mechanical engineers and computer scientists.
Western Colorado University hosted an official ribbon cutting for the Paul M. Rady Building on Friday, Oct. 8. The new 75-thousand square foot facility is home to the Western-CU Boulder Partnership Program at the Paul M. Rady School of Computer Science and Engineering.
University of Colorado President Todd Saliman, CU Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano and CEAS Acting Dean Keith Molenaar were among those attending the event in Gunnison – indicating how valuable the partnership between Western and CU Boulder is. It allows Western students to earn a bachelor’s degree from CU Boulder in mechanical engineering or computer science, while taking courses on the Western Slope.
“The Western-CU Boulder Partnership is critical to meet the growing demand for engineering graduates in the state and nation,” said Molenaar. “The partnership allows for a diverse group of students, some who might not have otherwise become engineers, to have the opportunity to improve society’s quality of life through engineering.”
Advancing the Western-CU Boulder Partnership
The new Rady Building at Western is a tangible component of the Western-CU Boulder partnership. The facility was made possible through the support of Western alumnus and CU Engineering Advisory Board member Paul Rady, chairman and CEO of Antero Resources, a Denver oil and gas company.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering to celebrate Paul Rady’s gift to Western,” said Michael Hannigan, the chair of CU Boulder’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, who also attended the grand opening.
The Rady Building opened to students, faculty and staff in spring 2021 – equipped with the Western-CU Boulder Partnership Program’s new director Jenifer Blacklock, who is a former Department of Mechanical Engineering faculty member. Hannigan added that “we are thrilled to see our partnership thriving under the leadership of Jenifer Blacklock, who is already finding ways to leverage local strength to support the partnership’s success.”
“With the new state-of-the-art facility, lab spaces and makerspaces – along with a low student-to-faculty ratio and a small community – we are able to support experiential initiatives throughout the curriculum,” said Blacklock. “These initiatives support student learning and industry engagement with our local industry partners, providing students valuable experiences when they begin their careers. They also allow us to support project-based learning in the classroom, benefiting not only our students, but our local industry partners as well.”
The new standard for harnessing green energy
The new building is beautiful and sleek, built to inspire the next generation of problem solvers with collaboration and innovation; but it is the facility’s sustainability that cements the Rady Building as a model for future construction.
The building is LEED Gold certified, which is the second highest rating for green building strategies. The environmentally-friendly features include geothermal wells for temperature control, plumbing fixtures that minimize water usage and paint/sealants with low to no volatile organic compounds.
The Rady Building also promotes sustainable transportation. There are charging stations available outside for electric vehicles and private showers for staff and students who commute by bicycle.
The work to build the facility began in January 2019. Ninety percent of the waste generated during construction, which was about 747 tons of material, was recycled.
“It is so wonderful that our new degree program down at Western Colorado University can be housed in the beautiful Rady Building,” said CU Boulder’s Department of Computer Science Chair Ken Anderson, another faculty member attending the ceremony on Friday. “It is a wonderful location for our faculty to work and a great place for our partnership students to take their classes, work on their projects and earn their degrees.”
The Paul M. Rady Building Community Grand Opening was one of several events planned for Western’s Homecoming 2021 celebration. Other leaders that joined the ribbon cutting ceremony include CU President Emeritus Bruce Benson, former CEAS Dean Bobby Braun, CU Boulder Vice Chancellor for Advancement Katy Herbert Kotlarczyk, Chair of the Department of Geological Sciences Robert Anderson and CEAS Senior Director of Development Erin Gage.