Rep. Diana DeGette saw the public-private partnership in action on Auraria via MSU Denver’s new Aerospace and Engineering Sciences.
DeGette toured Auraria campus’ new AES Building on Aug. 24 with the hope to attract growth in the science, technology, engineering and math fields in Colorado.
“More importantly it’ll train the next generation of workers so that people can get the skills they need to get those high paying jobs. If the citizens have jobs then the economy is helped,” DeGette said regarding the potential impact of the new AES building.
Currently in Colorado there are 15 job openings for every unemployed STEM worker. The state now faces a lack of skilled laborers, and DeGette believes investing in programs like the one MSU Denver’s AES Building houses will help prevent this problem.
“As part of President Davidson’s listening and outreach tour, we were able to bring Congresswoman DeGette to campus to learn more about the AES building and our Institute for Advanced Manufacturing Sciences,” said Catherine Lucas, an associate to President Davidson for Marketing and Communications.
DeGette hopes to co-sponsor bills to increase funding for STEM programs in universities across the country. However, she said that moving higher education in this direction, or any direction, is difficult under the current administration. Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education, is in favor of school choice and voucher programs, which means less funding for state institutions. This sentiment is shared by Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, so any bill DeGette hopes to sponsor in the immediate future will likely be a hard sell for Congress.
Unfortunately, the lack of funding for higher education and subsequently the lack of skilled workers aren’t the only student related issues facing Congress.
“I’m taking out massive student loans so I know there’s been talk in Washington at the federal level to cut subsidies and federal assistance for students. I would encourage her to fight against that because a lot of students rely on that,” said Phillip Ward, an MSU Denver student.
DeGette is aware of the larger problem surrounding student loans. In an interview with the North Denver Tribune, she said that congress needs to enact legislation that allows loan forgiveness for those who are underprivileged. DeGette also wants to increase Pell Grants for students.
Currently, the tense atmosphere in Congress and the White House make it difficult to pass any legislation that could help students, such as capping interest rates and subsidies. Despite that, DeGette plans to continue working for Colorado’s future by fighting for college students in the House of Representatives.