Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus in Steamboat Springs is offering two new programs, both unique in the state and the country.
One is a two-year, transferable engineering degree, and the other is a two-year golf club management program.
The engineering associates degree, through which students can transfer all their credits when going on to the University of Colorado at Boulder, is the only one offered at a two-year college in Colorado.
The golf management program is one of only a few of its kind in the country.
Students have expressed a lot of interest in both programs, said Lance Eldridge, assistant campus dean for instruction at the Alpine Campus.
The new programs mark progress that the Alpine Campus is making toward its goal of having several areas of focus: liberal arts, academic preparation, business (which includes hospitality, ski and golf business), engineering and community programs.
"We're going to do five things, and we're going to do five things well," Eldridge said. "This is the way we're getting there."
The engineering program has been in the works for several years and is the brainchild of Stephen Craig, the engineering program director and mathematics professor. Craig has worked closely with CU-Boulder to create a program through which credits would transfer completely from the two-year school to the four-year university.
CU-Boulder has watched with concern as several students do not continue through its engineering program, said Carolyn Peters, liberal arts division director for the Alpine Campus.
CU-Boulder's program is large and many of its basic engineering classes are very big. Some students get lost in the shuffle, or don't know how to get the help they need, and ultimately they drop out of the program, Peters said.
CMC's program will offer small class sizes and lots of personal attention for those first two years, which should encourage students to stick with the engineering track. After two years, if students are accepted into CU-Boulder's program, they will start classes there as juniors in mechanical engineering.
Other benefits of CMC's program, Peters said, include networking with local engineers, a lower cost for the first two years (in-district students pay only $43 a credit hour), and a chance to be a part of CMC's new engineering club, which will give students an inside look at local engineering firms and larger companies in Colorado, provide guest speakers and more.
Plus, CMC offers quality, committed teachers.
"Our instructors are the best at what they do," Peters said.
The program will be limited to 20 students, and Peters estimated eight or nine students already had enrolled. Several of those are nontraditional students who want to change careers but have been unable to leave the Yampa Valley to start school, she said.
The program requirements include three or four math, science and engineering classes each semester, as well as one humanities elective. There also is a hands-on component in which students work in the laboratory with real engineering questions.
"We're pleased and proud and glad that CMC can offer top notch occupational and academic programs," Peters said.
Helping students get into engineering opens up all sorts of doors for them, she said.
"Engineering is a career that ... exemplifies our culture and our society today, and our world," she said. "We're making a new world, we're exploring space, we're figuring out ways to communicate. It's cutting edge."
Eldridge agreed, adding that engineers start at salaries in the range of $38,000 to $45,000 a year and, in many places, are in high demand.
Work on the golf club management program began after former dean Robert Ritschel asked the question, "What happens to ski shops in the summer?" Eldridge said.
Locally, he said, most ski shops turn to selling lawn furniture and golf equipment during summer months, so adding a golf program was a natural for the college.
Instructor Terry Hunter created the golf club management program to expand the hospitality-business program to cover all four seasons, Eldridge said.
The program involves a number of local internships that give students real experience at local golf courses, he said.
Students who want to complete the program are required to keep a 12 handicap or better in the sport.
"They just can't talk about the sport -- they have to be able to play the sport," Eldridge said.
Students learn about golf club fitting, sales, food service, details of running a pro shop and more.
Between seven and 10 students have signed up for the program, he said.
Eldridge said he expects both of the new programs to grow to 20 students in the next few years.
CMC counselor Amy Feltner has seen students get excited about the two new programs.
"All of a sudden a program like this pops up and (they're) like, 'Hey, that's me,'" she said. "There's kind of a buzz -- some excitement about it."
Also new this year, there is a series of classes on Routt County history taught by Rita Herold.
The classes will be a great opportunity for new residents who want a better understanding of the history of the area, Eldridge said. The classes also will offer longtime residents an opportunity to share their stories.