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Agreement will allow for smoother transfer from community college to state universities—saving students money and diversifying the engineering workforce.

Front Range Community College has received approval from the Higher Learning Commission to become the first community college in Colorado to offer a two-year Associate of Engineering Science (AES) degree.

This degree provides a clear pathway for community college students to complete the first two years of coursework needed for a bachelor’s degree in engineering—at a significantly lower cost. Students can then seamlessly transfer to a university in Colorado for their junior and senior years.

The new degree option is expected to open doors for students of color, as well as low-income and first-generation college students.

“I think this is an incredible step toward making higher education in STEM more accessible to a wider cross section of the American population,” said FRCC engineering student Ryan Tepper.

“In a country where students are racking up an astronomical amount of debt—and where an engineering degree is a first-class ticket to a middle-class lifestyle—I think it’s incredible that we are creating more pathways for more students from more walks of life to get into these careers.”

FRCC’s new degree is the first of its kind in the state of Colorado. The engineering associate degree will transfer to the engineering schools at the following universities:

  • Colorado School of Mines
  • Colorado State University (Fort Collins)
  • The University of Colorado (Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs)—articulation agreement coming soon…

Saving Students Time and Money

Students in the AES program will complete their core engineering requirements at FRCC, maximizing the number of credits they can transfer to their four-year school.

“This streamlined process will make it easier for students to be confident that all their credits will transfer to their university engineering program,” said Rebecca Woulfe, vice president of academic affairs for FRCC.

“It will also save them time and money by paying FRCC’s lower tuition rate for their first two years in college.”

Cutting Unnecessary Credits

FRCC math faculty member and Engineering Coordinator Christy Gomez worked closely with her counterparts at Mines, CU, CSU and the Colorado Community College System to help make this option become a reality for students.

“This pathway ensures that courses at community colleges with AES programs will fulfill Colorado bachelor’s degree requirements,” she said. “Associate degree students will not end up taking excessive credits that can delay degree completion and unnecessarily add to their educational costs.”

Serving the Underserved

“Providing students an opportunity to complete two full years of engineering coursework at a lower cost than the universities should prove to be a mechanism to recruit underrepresented populations to engineering fields,” Gomez added.

FRCC will begin offering its new AES degree in 2022. Students in the program will be able to take classes at any of FRCC’s campuses—and many of the classes will also be offered online.

Just the Beginning

FRCC plans to eventually add additional AES degrees in civil and electrical engineering. With the new AES degree written into policy by the Colorado Community College System, other two-year schools in the state are expected to follow suit.

Technician working on robotic arm

And students aren’t the only ones who will benefit from this new degree option. By supporting community college undergraduates across Colorado, this effort is expected to increase the number of students transferring to four-year engineering programs—thereby helping to expand and diversify the state’s trained engineering workforce.

“The Colorado economy needs more engineers to meet employment demand in our state,” said FRCC President Andy Dorsey.

“Every step we take to make it easier for students to get a degree benefits us all.”

A Better Path to a Bachelor’s Degree

For years, FRCC has offered an engineering pathway for students who want to get started on a bachelor’s degree in the field and then transfer to a four-year school. However, the transfer agreements were different depending on which university a student was planning to transfer to—making the process complicated and sometimes confusing for students. (And when they transferred to their four-year school, they usually left FRCC without having completed an associate degree first.)

“The new degree provides a great path for our students,” Dorsey said. “For the first two years of their engineering education, they get a smaller, more manageable environment with many supportive services.”

“After we help them build a strong academic foundation at FRCC, they can leave us with a two-year engineering degree—and know they’re well prepared to complete their bachelor’s in two more years.”

The Higher Learning Commission is an agency that accredits degree-granting colleges and universities in a 19-state region of the US (including Colorado).

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About Front Range Community College

FRCC offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs from locations in Boulder County, Larimer County, Westminster, Brighton, and online. FRCC is a member of the Colorado Community College System.

About the Colorado Community College System

The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) is the state’s largest system of higher education, serving 138,000 students annually at 13 colleges and 39 locations across Colorado. Our open access mission ensures all Coloradans who aspire to enrich their lives have access to quality higher education opportunities.

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