Published: June 7, 2023 By

A student relaxes in a hammock outside of Williams Village EastIn 81 days, the first cohort of students will begin moving into Engineering Connections, the college’s new residential community for soon-to-be engineers and applied scientists.

It’s a countdown that Dean Keith Molenaar has been tracking closely — and with great anticipation. 

“I’m so thrilled to be able to provide this opportunity for all of our students,” Molenaar said. “This community has been several years in the making, and I’ll be first in line on move-in day to help unload cars, carry boxes and welcome students to their new home.”

National studies and CU Boulder data suggest that taking part in a first-year residential experience — in which you live with other students with similar interests or values — increases a student’s likelihood of building a sense of belonging during their college career and successfully making it to graduation. 

In the past, only 62% of engineering students have been able to participate in those experiences through the Engineering Honors Program, Engineering Quad, the Goldshirt Program, Global Engineering and other CU Boulder residential programs. 

For fall 2023, that number will be nearly 100%. 

Scot Douglass, the Engineering Connections faculty director, has seen the benefits of these kinds of communities first-hand, as the live-in director of the Engineering Honors community since 2009. 

“Given that a full time student spends less than 14 hours per week in class, whether or not they thrive — academically, socially — and live healthy lives mostly depends on what happens outside of the classroom,” Douglass said. “We are creating a community that brings together all the resources that touch upon the student experience in a way that asks students to be the best version of themselves and supports them in doing so.”  

In addition to programming that supports academic success, wellness, fun and professional development, Douglass added that one of the college’s top priorities is creating spaces for students to create their own smaller communities. 

“We want to create an emergent community that embraces heterogeneity and embraces difference, so we intentionally built an entrepreneurial mindset into Engineering Connections,” he said. “When students have ideas for what kind of resources or opportunities they want to see, we are here to help facilitate that.” 

This summer, the college is putting the finishing touches on the office suite at Williams Village that will house the Engineering Connections support team, which includes staff focused on the first-year experience, community-building and student wellness.  

“Our team isn’t just very skilled at their jobs — they’re also just honestly great people,” said Aaron Asmundson, the managing director of Engineering Connections. “As a team, we’re excited about getting to know our students personally and supporting them through their first year.”

On Aug. 20, BOLD Scholars and residents of the Engineering Honors and Global Engineering residential academic programs will move-in as part of their pre-arrival programs. Later that week, all Engineering Connections students will begin moving into their rooms in Williams Village North, Williams Village East and Stearns East Hall.