construction site for the new engineering building
Progress on the new engineering building set to open spring 2018.


First engineering department head announced

The $25.4 million, 68,700 square-foot building that will house the engineering programs and the John McConnell Math & Science Center is set to open spring 2018. Brigitte Sundermann’s responsibilities as the new department head of engineering and director of manufacturing have already started.

After a chance encounter in 1991 with a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) employee at her senior project presentation in Las Cruces, N.M., Sundermann decided to move to Grand Junction to work as a contractor for the DOE. During the next decade, she gained valuable knowledge while working as an engineer. She worked as a project manager for a 15 square-mile drainage basin, led a $1.5 million environmental remediation project along the Colorado River and worked with the U.S. Forest Service on a wastewater system.

In 2000, she joined the team at Colorado Mesa and Western Colorado Community College, teaching numerous engineering and manufacturing courses.  She has also held several leadership positions including vice president for community college affairs and department chair of manufacturing. Sundermann gives credit to the combination of her past roles at the university, her degrees — BS in civil engineering, MA in business administration and PhD candidate in education —  and real-world experience in preparing her for this new role as the first CMU engineering department head.

“My education provided me with the knowledge and opportunity to work on interesting engineering projects,” she said.

CMU currently offers civil and mechanical engineering degrees through a partnership with CU-Boulder. This relationship will not change and Sundermann is looking forward to building upon a great program, she said.

“We want to continue the success of the current engineering program and build upon it as the program grows and matures,” she said. The faculty are excellent with a lot of real-world experience, the program offers hands-on projects, provides students the opportunity to be well grounded in theory and there is a strong partnership with the business advisory committee, she added.

Another strong attribute of the engineering program is that students work regularly with local businesses in the engineering sector, said Sundermann. This symbiotic relationship gives students hands-on experience and helps local businesses solve problems.  

There are about 400 students enrolled in engineering courses now. One of Sundermann’s goals is to support students and improve retention so they are prepared to be successful professionals in the engineering field.

What started as curiosity in her dad’s machine shop in Cleveland, Ohio, has led Sundermann to the leadership role in expanding CMU’s engineering program and the CMU/CU-Boulder partnership programs.

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David Ludlam, Director of Public Relations

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