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Western Colorado Community College partners with the Sturm Family and ANB Bank for Mobile Learning Facility

New mobile classroom will create workforce training pathway for rural communities

The Sturm Family and ANB Bank have announced a gift to Western Colorado Community College for more than $450,000 to implement mobile mechatronics training and high-tech learning in rural, western Colorado. The news prompted Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster to reflect on a remarkable 2019 for Western Colorado Community College thus far.


“Brigitte Sundermann, her team and community partners at WCCC have built a solid educational foundation this year for future strategic initiatives,” said Foster. “The first P-TECH School in western Colorado was established with Mesa County School District 51, the team increased WCCC enrollment and expanded summer camp offerings. Now, their work with the Sturm Family and ANB Bank will bring high-tech learning to rural communities and put emphasis on WCCC’s growing impact in western Colorado.”


The gift from the Sturm Family and ANB Bank will provide more than $450,000 to fund a truck, trailer, mechatronics equipment and other materials. The lab will be the size of a semi-truck and trailer and will include modern conveniences and climate controls to make learning both mobile and comfortable.


Mechatronics is a manufacturing and technology discipline that integrates software, programmable electronic controls, sensors, robotics and mechanical systems into automated equipment and advanced manufacturing processes. It is a state-of -the-art training facility that will be available for teaching and learning in fall 2019.


"Mr. Donald Sturm, his family and ANB Bank are providing continuous support across the Centennial state when it comes to workforce training and learning,” said Foster. “This gift offers almost half a million dollars to change the way mechatronics training is delivered in western Colorado. The generosity of the Sturm Family and ANB Bank is met with deep appreciation from CMU, WCCC and the community.”


The mobile learning facility will be named in celebration of the Sturm Family and ANB Bank, recognizing their support of the project.


“Our participation with CMU and WCCC is meant to reinforce creativity in the market place when it comes to higher education. We want to reward ideas that align industry and business needs,” said Donald Sturm, ANB Bank owner and chairman. "Through the mobile learning lab, WCCC will provide a vehicle for introducing mechatronics training to rural communities. This is the kind of innovation required in an economy driven by technology, and we are pleased to be a part of the project.”


As Vice President of Community College Affairs, Sundermann’s vision for the mobile learning lab was a product of her own experience on the western slope and in rural communities.


“In addition to engineering, I have a background in rural communities and agriculture. I understand the distances and landscapes that provide an unmatched quality of life, but can make access to technology difficult,” said Sundermann. “The Sturm Family and ANB Bank should be credited for their vision that we can together reach rural communities right where they are – this mobile lab will help us accomplish their vision for innovation.”


Foster, also a western Colorado native and former rural legislator, remembers the challenges facing small communities when it comes to infrastructure.


“This is the kind of project where communities like Gateway, Collbran, Mesa, DeBeque, Meeker and Maybell, to name just a few, can partner with WCCC to bring technology and training right to their doorsteps,” said Foster. “Providing high-quality education and workforce training throughout the region using a school on wheels is a game changer for our service region and mission.”


Sturm described the commitment of the Sturm Family and ANB Bank to the area and the impact the mobile learning lab will have on the community.


“Many of ANB Bank’s customers are owners of manufacturing facilities, small businesses and energy-related operations in western Colorado. The growth and sustainability of our regional economy requires technical proficiency in mechatronics. This mobile classroom will encourage post-secondary training that will make a significant impact on the community.”


When construction is complete, the project partners are scheduling a regional roadshow during which the mobile learning lab will be introduced throughout the CMU and WCCC service area, one community at a time.


The Colorado Mesa University Foundation received the funds and recently celebrated the CMU endowment reaching the $30 million milestone.


"The Sturm Family exhibits the kind of constant generosity and thoughtful giving that has allowed our foundation to thrive in recent years,” said CMU Foundation CEO Liz Meyer. “These kinds of gifts and investments are why we encourage people who are interested in following the leadership of the Sturm Family to reach out and learn more about what our board of directors does to improve education through philanthropy.”


CMU|now readers can learn more about the Sturm Family Foundation here.



Written by David Ludlam