Published: Feb. 29, 2024

The University of Colorado Boulder and the Colorado Community College System have signed an agreement to expand an existing program that allows community college students who have earned an associate in engineering sciences (AES) degree to transfer into four additional bachelor’s degree pathways at the College of Engineering and Applied Science. 

With the new agreement, CU Boulder will be the only Colorado campus to offer six pathways, including new architectural, computer, electrical and general engineering programs. In 2022, CU Boulder was the first campus to provide a civil engineering transfer program, joining other campuses with a mechanical engineering track. 

“Collaborative partnerships like this allow us to continue to remove barriers, create better transparency in the transfer process, and further expand access for transfer students pursuing an engineering degree, especially for students who may not have thought it was possible to achieve an engineering education in a reasonable and efficient time frame,” said Chris Anderson, the college’s senior director of academic success and transfer pathways. 

The streamlined transfer process to CU Boulder allows students who begin their academic journey at one of the state’s 13 community colleges to choose from major-specific paths or a new general pathway. These degree pathways enable students to take coursework that fits directly into CU engineering degree programs without credit loss. 

The four additional engineering pathways will be open to students in fall 2024.

Dean Keith Molenaar speaks at a podium at the community college agreement signing celebration
Dean Keith Molenaar speaks at the Feb. 27 agreement signing celebration.

Expanding access and building workforce 

The CU Boulder transfer program helps students graduate on time while also preparing them for in-demand careers in highly skilled engineering professions. 

“Expanding our engineering transfer pathway program enables us to increase access to higher education in STEM,” said Keith Molenaar, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science. “Not only will more students have the opportunity to pursue a four-year degree from a nationally recognized engineering college, but the expansion will ultimately produce more innovative engineering solutions to our most pressing societal challenges through a more diverse workforce.”

Colorado Community College System Chancellor Joe Garcia praised the collaboration.

“We are thrilled to grow our partnership with CU Boulder and offer new educational opportunities for the 1,200-plus students pursuing an AES,” said Garcia. “Through these expanded transfer options, we will connect more Coloradans to in-demand jobs while delivering skilled, diverse talent across an array of engineering disciplines.”

The student experience 

During a celebration event on Feb. 27, three students spoke about their experiences utilizing transfer pathways to transition from community college to CU Boulder. 

Colton Brown took time after high school to explore career options and interests before returning to Red Rocks Community College and Community College of Denver to pursue his engineering coursework. He’s now a senior completing his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering sciences at CU Boulder.

“The transition from community college to a highly regarded research university like CU Boulder was very smooth due to the rigor we were experiencing at CCD,” Brown said. “I felt fully prepared and was able to take full advantage of all of the opportunities here on campus.”

Nicole Nageli, a junior majoring in computer science and creative technology & design, shared how her transfer experience is allowing her to pursue her dream of combining art and technology for scientific advancement. 

“The support that I got from the staff at CU Boulder and Arapahoe Community College just made it so seamless,” she said. “I felt so supported with everything from graduation timelines to Transferology.” 

She said she also appreciated resources like the engineering transfer student success seminar course and campus-led events that allowed her to connect with other transfer students. 

Front Range Community College student Breeana Pritchard looks forward to utilizing the new pathways to complete a biomedical engineering degree at CU Boulder. She credits FRCC with allowing her to immerse herself in everything from technical coursework to participating in Colorado Space Grant Consortium projects. 

“To achieve my dreams, I knew I needed a school that would set me up for success while providing excellent value and instruction,” she said. “With this new agreement, I can rest easy knowing that all my hard work will count toward my bachelor’s degree.” 

The students’ experiences inspired Dean Molenaar to wrap up the event by sharing how his own experiences as a first-generation and community college transfer student inspired his dedication to expanding access to engineering education and careers. 

“The solutions to the challenges in our society that we’re working on need a diverse set of engineers to address,” he said. “From the workforce side, we just can’t graduate enough engineers. I see nothing but opportunities for these students.”