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This week, the Downtown Denver Partnership named the AES Building, and the initiative that developed it, one of six recipients of the 2017 Downtown Denver Awards. Photo: Mark Stahl

Rising star: AES Building shines with prestigious honor

Aerospace and engineering-sciences facility wins 2017 Downtown Denver Award for impact on the Mile High City.

March 27, 2018

By Daniel J Vaccaro

Students who learn in the Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building at Metropolitan State University of Denver may soon have a new assignment – designing and manufacturing a trophy case.

This week, the Downtown Denver Partnership named the building, and the initiative that developed it, one of six recipients of the 2017 Downtown Denver Awards. The 25-member jury voted unanimously for the state-of-the-art facility, which opened last summer.

The prestigious annual awards celebrate organizations, events and initiatives that make a positive impact on downtown Denver. Winning projects contribute to creating a unique, vibrant and diverse downtown environment.

“This is a tremendous honor for the University,” said Janine Davidson, Ph.D., president of MSU Denver. “We are very proud of the AES Building and the work happening inside of it. We are educating the next generation of professionals for Colorado’s aerospace and advanced-manufacturing industries right in the heart of the city.”

A student works with a robotic arm, one of many state-of-the-art pieces of equipment featured in the AES Building. Photo: Sara Hertwig

Among the characteristics that set the AES initiative apart from other projects were its emphasis on industry collaboration and partnerships to enhance learning.

The University worked with industry leaders such as Lockheed Martin to develop a first-of-its-kind advanced-manufacturing curriculum that integrates seven STEM disciplines. The curriculum is administered by MSU Denver’s Advanced Manufacturing Sciences Institute.

The $60 million building also features a Public-Private Partnership Enterprise Floor with four small and medium-size advanced-manufacturing businesses, three of which relocated to downtown Denver. Companies are tenants and partners, agreeing to create student internships and jobs, as well as joint research projects.

The first tenant-partner was York Space Systems, a manufacturer of uniquely designed small satellites. The company held its ribbon-cutting ceremony March 20 and will build and operate satellites from campus.

Other tenant-partners include the Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Association; EyasSat, a satellite-development company; and Ambient Energy, an engineering firm focused on sustainable design.

Francisco Hansen graduated from MSU Denver in December with a degree in astrodynamics and aerospace operations. Today, he works for York Space Systems, a new tenant-partner that opened its headquarters in the University's AES Building on March 20. Photo: Alyson McClaran

University leaders will accept the award at the 57th Annual Downtown Denver Awards Dinner on April 17. More than 1,000 of Denver’s business and civic leaders are expected to attend the black-tie event.

“We are thrilled to honor the Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building at MSU Denver as a leading example of innovation in higher education with an eye toward workforce development,” said Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership. “MSU Denver is well-positioned to provide unique and meaningful engagement opportunities to students and the private sector alike. We look forward to watching the economic impact of this program on downtown Denver for years to come.”

This will be MSU Denver’s third Downtown Denver Award in five years. The University’s Regency Athletic Complex took home the 2015 prize, and its Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center was recognized in 2012.

“I think these recent awards point to a larger trend,” Davidson said. “MSU Denver is on its way up.”