Engineering annex construction underway

A building addition slated to open next year is expected to accommodate growth in new and existing programs at UCCS.

Construction on the Engineering and Applied Sciences Annex began in the first week of the semester. The 24,000 square-foot, three-story building will cost $16.7 million and is scheduled to open by August 2023, according to the program plan.

The annex will house new classrooms, labs and research spaces, offset the strain on the Engineering and Osborne Buildings and support growth in the EAS College, including the new aerospace engineering degree program, to meet industry demands.

Mechanical and engineering department chair Peter Gorder said the annex will benefit EAS departments and programs across the board, creating space to redistribute students and faculty currently working in Osbornes heavily used instructional labs.

The new space will include labs designed for power systems, space systems and combustion research, according to Gorder. Another part of the annex will serve as a mechanical engineering production shop, splitting the Osborne shop’s functions for instruction and production use.

“[The Osborne shop] is for students to learn how to use that kind of equipment and what it takes to actually fabricate a part they’ve designs, but it also serves … all of campus. We do projects for all over campus that need something built,” Gorder said. “It’s way too small for the number of students we have now.”

The annex will temporarily house classes and operations when the existing Engineering Building undergoes overdue renovations, making it possible to maximize space in the old building. “We’re going to need every square inch inside that Engineering Building going forward,” Gorder said.

The annex program plan indicates that the EAS College expects to continue growing at about 3% annually and jump from 1,700 students to at least 2,400 students by 2026. The university believes the aerospace engineering program alone will contribute 220 students to the college in that time and the annex is essential to making the degree possible, according to Gorder.

Building on the existing aerospace engineering minor, a full degree program that launched this semester will require new space in the annex to hold upper division classes. “The way we structured our roll-in was to start with only freshmen and sophomores this first year, knowing that the building was going to be coming online but wasn’t going to be online right at the very beginning of the program,” Gorder said.

“There’s been demand for it, a lot of local industry and student demand, but the holdup has been space to actually allow it to happen,” he said. “There are roughly 250 aerospace companies in the Colorado Springs area. Nationally, there’s an expectation that jobs in the aerospace industry are going to increase at an annual rate of 3% through 2029.”

According to the annex program plan, technical education is in high demand in local industry, and industry partners consider UCCS graduates “the most reliable employees for long-term retention.”

The aerospace industry’s needs bridge across the EAS departments: mechanical and aerospace engineering, electrical and computer engineering and computer science.

“If you design something that you’re going to stick up in orbit … there’s lots of mechanical, there’s lots of electrical, but then you’ve got to be able to communicate with this thing. You’ve got to be able to use data from it, send data to it. So there are lots of computer science and software-oriented kinds of jobs too,” Gorder said.

If U.S. Space Command remains in Colorado Springs, it will mean the development of an additional 1,400 jobs in the aerospace industry, Gorder said.

The new Engineering annex will located on main campus outside of the University Center and Kramer Family Library. Photo by Meghan Germain.