Demolition began on a section of Berndt Hall that will be the new home of the Fort Lewis College Geosciences, Physics and Engineering (GPE) Building. The new building will be three times larger than the old structure, which was built in 1968. Completion of the new facility is expected in fall 2016. Watch the construction live on our campus web cams.
At FLC, geosciences, physics, and engineering are three of the strongest degrees on campus. Enrollment in engineering, for example, has more than doubled over the last three years. The growth was taxing the capacity of the old building. In addition, the building was too old to support the kind of laboratories that are needed to give geosciences, physics, and engineering students the chance to take advantage of the best hands-on education possible.
An International Need
The need to produce, not only more, but also better prepared science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduates is recognized worldwide. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology has stated that “Economic projections point to a need for approximately 1 million more STEM professionals than the U.S. will produce at the current rate over the next decade if the country is to retain its historical preeminence in science and technology.”
The U.S. has long been the world leader in research and innovation, but the rest of the world is catching up.
China, for example, has invested billions of dollars in science and technology, as noted by the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education. In 2011, 41 percent of the college degrees awarded by Chinese institutions were STEM degrees, compared to 13 percent in the U.S. The Observatory also cites data indicating Brazil will likely outpace the U.S. by 2016 in the number of STEM Ph.D. graduates they produce. India, the United Kingdom, and Japan are among other countries that have seen the importance of STEM education and are making it a priority.
Closer to home, Colorado is a national leader in high tech employment, which is a primary source for innovation, economic growth, and good paying jobs. The 2014 State New Economy Index ranks Colorado third in the nation in terms of jobs in high tech fields. The state is also in the top five in terms of scientists and engineers employed. However, Colorado is not among the states with the most growth over recent years in these two areas.
The new Geosciences, Physics and Engineering Building at Fort Lewis College is being built to provide the talent that Colorado, the U.S., and the world needs, as well as help students take advantage of the future opportunities that this worldwide focus on STEM will offer.
An Individual Opportunity
A great education in geosciences, physics, and engineering will help open the door to a great career. Civil engineering, for example, is expected to add more than 50,000 jobs in the United States over the next decade. That’s nearly twice as fast as the estimated growth rate for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Also according to the BLS, the 2012 median salary for physicists and astronomers is more than $100,000 with thousands of new jobs expected to open up in the next ten years, but students studying physics can pursue a wide range of careers. As the study of matter, energy, and the interactions between them, physics majors are needed in areas like clean energy, aerospace, medicine, and agriculture.
Being located in such a remarkable and diverse geological region, Fort Lewis College is a great place to study the geosciences. Among the careers geosciences majors can have are geoscientists and geological engineers. Both occupations had a median salary of over $80,000 in 2012 and both are expected to grow in the future, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.
The new Geoscience, Physics and Engineering Building at Fort Lewis College is an investment, with the payoff being a valuable education for FLC students to enjoy great careers that move the world forward.
Click here to learn more about the GPE project.