Not only will Carolyn Goodwin be one of the first students to graduate from the Western Colorado University-CU Boulder engineering partnership program in May 2023, she is also the first Western partnership student to participate in the Colorado Science and Engineering Policy Fellowship. 

Goodwin majored in mechanical engineering and minoring in engineering management in the Western-CU partnership — one of 14 members of her cohort. She was drawn to the program by a scholarship and the chance to swim as an NCAA Division II student-athlete. 

Through the policy fellowship, Goodwin got real-world experience meeting with legislators and staffers to learn more about lawmaking processes.   

“There needs to be more STEM researchers in politics. The more people who view policy through the research lens, the better decisions will be made,” she said.

Goodwin said she encourages STEM students to consider representation of scientists and engineers in government.  

“There’s more that you can do as an engineer than just being an engineer,” she said. “There’s a whole other world that you can get into.” 

The Western Colorado University Partnership Program launched in 2019 and was supported by Western alumnus and CU Boulder Engineering Advisory Board member Paul M. Rady, chairman and CEO of Antero Resources. 

The program gives students the opportunity to earn a mechanical engineering or computer science degree from CU Boulder, entirely from the Western campus in Gunnison. 

In addition to small class sizes and athletic opportunities, Goodwin said she also enjoyed being part of building an engineering community at Western. She is a member of the campus Society of Automotive Engineers chapter, as well as a founding member of its American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Society of Women Engineers chapters. In summer 2022, Goodwin interned at Sundyne, an engineering firm in Arvada, Colorado.  

Goodwin attributes her success in part to relationships she built with faculty, including Jenifer Blacklock, director of the partnership program. She said Blacklock’s dedication to students and fine-tuning the program’s structure has positively impacted the student experience. 

“Jeni was really helpful and would accommodate our time to meet with her,” Goodwin said. “She also invited professors from the CU Boulder campus to share their experience in research and industry,” said Goodwin. 

The first graduating class of the Western-CU partnership program is completing the program this spring.