Office of the President

The Need for a New Geosciences, Physics and Engineering Building

Geoscience students with microscopes

The Need

Fort Lewis College's geosciences, physics, and engineering programs are among the strongest and most popular on campus. This is because these programs give FLC students what they need to be successful after they graduate. 

  • With the unique natural environment that surrounds campus, colleges and universities from across the country bring their students to Fort Lewis College for summer geosciences camps. For FLC students, this incredible outdoor classroom/laboratory is right outside their doors.
  • In the engineering program, FLC students consistently pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam at higher rates than the national average, even boasting a 100 percent pass rate in winter 2010 and fall 2011. Engineering graduates also enjoy an employment rate of over 90 percent.
  • FLC students get the opportunity to take part in real and groundbreaking undergraduate research with professors who are also leading scientists in their fields. For example, Professor of Physics/Engineering Ryan Haaland's research into atmospheric sprites has been publicized worldwide.

"My FLC degree has given me the ability to understand engineering projects in a broader 'bigger picture' perspective rather than being limited to the application of basic individual component tasks."

 - Micah Chapman
Class of 2012

To bring the quality of the facilities up to the high quality of FLC's professors, the construction of a new Geosciences, Physics and Engineering (GPE) Building on campus is Fort Lewis College’s top facility priority. Currently, students in the geosciences, physics, and engineering programs take the majority of their courses in a woefully outdated and too small wing of Berndt Hall. 

The geosciences program occupies the portion of Berndt Hall that was constructed in 1956 and the engineering and physics programs are housed in a portion that was built in 1968. These classrooms have the original desks and lab tables; the building infrastructure—electrical and ventilation systems—has not been updated for 20 years.

To meet strong demand, the physics and engineering program has established a four-year degree program and has burgeoning enrollments. In fall 2010, there was a total of 93 students in the four-year program. For fall 2013, 228 students, more than double in three years, enrolled. The increased enrollment has already overwhelmed the existing computer lab and classroom space, with a 40-student waitlist in effect. 

At the same time, three new laboratory courses were developed, one in each of the sophomore, junior and senior years. Labs are the foundation of modern engineering education and of FLC’s commitment to experiential learning. These labs need space.

Geosciences is one of the few undergraduate programs in the country that offers Economic Geology, making FLC graduates attractive to mining companies and tribal resource offices who are seeking well-qualified junior geologists. Geosciences does not have the space it needs to meet student demand and accreditation standards. 

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