The University of Colorado Colorado Springs held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for a new engineering building that will expand the capacity of UCCS' College of Engineering and Applied Sciences to accept 2,500 students.

The Anschutz Engineering Center, UCCS Chancellor Venkat Reddy said, would not be possible without the strong partnerships the university has with the community. The Anschutz Foundation made a large donation but did not specify the amount. 

"It takes a village to build this," Reddy said. "Our greatest thanks go to the Anschutz Foundation. This remarkable gift has really fueled this project so that we can actually make it happen."

The building adds engineering education capacity to a system that has struggled to handle the field's growing popularity and relevance. The University of Colorado Boulder, the flagship university of the CU system, has had to slow down enrollment numbers, according to system president Todd Saliman. 

The new building will assist with that, not only through classrooms, but with additional majors being brought to UCCS. One of those majors is aerospace engineering, something current student Katie Girardeau welcomes. 

"I personally am just so excited because aerospace was my passion, even though I started out in mechanical," she said. "I love UCCS, so I'm so glad that I get to do aerospace here." 

Girardeau said her love of astronomy and building began when she was a young child. Aerospace engineering is the "perfect combination" of those passions, she added. 

The aeronautical and space industry is strong in Colorado, which has the second-largest space economy in the country. Colorado Springs is home to multiple space and aeronautics companies and military organizations with a focus on space. 

"We are building this so that we can educate more people in Colorado," CU system President Todd Saliman said. "The engineering school turns away students every year because they don't have room."

Saliman and others said they hope the new building will encourage more students to attend UCCS.  

"When we were talking about getting this building approved, we showed that this will help contribute to enrollment at UCCS," Saliman said. "And so this is absolutely part of a long-term enrollment picture for us, and it's all about meeting the needs of the community. 

UCCS expects the building will be ready for students by Jan. 2, 2024. Final construction probably will continue into 2026. The Anschutz Engineering Center was designed by by Oz Architecture of Denver. It will be built by GH Phipps Construction Companies of Colorado Springs.

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