GUEST COLUMN: UCCS supports space industry

Chancellor Venkat Reddy published the following guest column in the Colorado Springs Gazette on Jan. 5, 2021.

Venkat Reddy, UCCS Chancellor

After engineering major Christopher Boles graduates from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs this month, he’s setting his sights high, very high: on Mars, in fact.

Christopher’s first full-time job will be working for the aerospace and defense giant Lockheed Martin in Denver, where his focus will be on helping the United States to land a spacecraft on Mars.

His story is extraordinary. And so is UCCS’ commitment to educating the future engineers of the Pikes Peak region — and beyond.

Envisioning the workforce of the future

For the last 55 years, UCCS has worked to create the engineering workforce of the future primarily for our region and state, though our graduates are helping well beyond Colorado borders. It’s in our DNA. It’s who we are.

Our university was founded in 1965 to help educate the growing engineering and business workforce of Hewlett-Packard. And we’ve continued to meet our region’s growing workforce needs with more than 80 degrees in fields such as health care, education, public affairs, business, engineering and the arts.

Most of our graduates — more than 65% — stay in the Pikes Peak region, leading to one of the most robust and resilient communities in the nation.

When we develop new programs, it’s with the mindset of what’s best for the state of Colorado.

Now, we’re preparing to launch the next phase of our vision.

Preparing for launch

A significant gift from the Anschutz Foundation will allow UCCS to physically expand our engineering building by over 24,000 square feet.

Together with a new astronautical engineering program unique to Colorado, and state-of-the-art facilities, we’re setting a course to serve the region’s rising aerospace and astronautical engineering needs.

We’re already seeing the fruits of this labor in fields such as cybersecurity.

Today, UCCS joins private foundations, government agencies and businesses in creating the nation’s center for cybersecurity education, research and response — all physically located in our cybersecurity building.

We share this building with the National Cybersecurity Center with whom we work closely with.

Now, we’re moving the pieces into place to make the same effort happen for astronautical engineering.

A UCCS degree in engineering is increasingly relevant in Colorado Springs, the home of multiple engineering firms, defense contractors and military units — which makes Colorado Springs a logical choice for the permanent home for U.S. Space Command.

The strong military presence in Colorado Springs and the military friendliness of our university also makes our city an ideal home for U.S. Space Command.

Nearly 20% of our students are military-affiliated, whether they’re active duty, a veteran or a military dependent.

We remain firmly committed to their success in and out of the classroom — from supporting our students succeed academically to providing resources for their mental and physical well-being. UCCS continues to be ranked as one of the top 10 military-friendly institutions in the nation.

UCCS is uniquely positioned to create the workforce of tomorrow, supporting not only growing aerospace and astronautical engineering needs, but the needs of the Colorado Springs business community.

With degrees like accounting and cybersecurity, mathematics and public affairs, nursing and education, more than 2,000 students graduate from UCCS every year.

What an exciting time for bright, talented students like Christopher to enter the workforce and make our dreams for the future into reality.

About Chancellor Venkat Reddy

Venkat K. Reddy, Ph.D., is the seventh full-time Chancellor of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS). As Chancellor of UCCS, Dr. Reddy has committed himself to the university’s access mission and student success. In changing one student’s life for the better, UCCS transforms the lives of families and community members forever.

In addition to his role as Chancellor, Dr. Reddy is also a professor in the College of Business at UCCS, where his research has focused on strategic financial investments and improvements to distance and online learning. He serves on the National Cyber Security Center Board of Directors and is an Honorary Commander at the United States Air Force Academy. He received his Ph.D. from Penn State. Learn more about Chancellor Reddy online.