First grads complete engineering program

Nine students have earned diplomas as the first graduating class of a mechanical engineering degree program offered jointly by Colorado Mesa University and the University of Colorado.

Students attend classes at CMU in Grand Junction. CMU faculty teach lower-division courses, while CU faculty teach upper-division courses. Graduates receive bachelor’s degrees from CU.

A total of 116 students are in various stages of completing the program launched four years ago. Another 122 students have expressed in the program.

Greg Wall, one of the nine graduates, said he expects a promotion and pay raise as a result of earning an engineering degree. The 25-year-old Grand Junction man works for Williams Energy as a draftsman.

Wall said location was among the most important factors in choosing the program offered by CMU and CU.

“I didn’t have to quit my job in Parachute, and I didn’t have to go into debt to go to school,” he said. “I had an associate’s degree in computer-aided design and drafting from CMU, and I was working with and for engineers. My supervisor said it was a good opportunity for my career.”

Aaron Clymer said he decided to enroll in the engineering program after serving four years in the Marine Corps.

The 30-year-old Grand Junction man said he chose the program because it enabled him to earn a degree from CU while enjoying the smaller and more personal environment offered at CMU.

Clymer will start full-time work as an engineer at GPD Global, a Grand Junction company that sponsored his senior engineering project.

“They were impressed with the presentation and the ideas (our team) had. I was hired as an intern in February, and I just got a full-time offer,” he said.

“I don’t think I could have chosen a better career path,” Clymer added. “There’s so much involved in the engineering program — communications, presentation skills, math, physics, problem-solving. It has just about everything.”

Jeremy Styers also was drawn to the engineering program because of its location in Grand Junction. The 29-year-old Styers transferred from Colorado State University after hearing about the program from friends and family.

Styers has been working part time this year at Lewis Engineering, which sponsored his senior project, and recently received a full-time job offer from the Grand Junction company. “It worked out pretty well,” Styers said.