Gillette College and the University of Wyoming's College of Engineering are working on a new partnership that could bring more opportunities for students in northeast Wyoming.
The partnership would provide the first two years of an engineering degree at Gillette College. Then, students would wrap up the degree in Laramie.
Making the program a reality will take some time, but Campbell County is helping to lay the groundwork. The county will fund an engineering instructor position at Gillette College to begin a UW engineering extension program. That person would teach some engineering courses at Gillette College and also work in the community.
Campbell County will fund the position for two years, and after that UW will take it over. Campbell County Commissioner Mark Christensen said the county budgeted $120,000 for the first year, but the actual cost could be different.
Christensen said the engineering extension program will be good for the county and the state.
"We've got a really good entrepreneurial spirit in Campbell County. It also pushes some of that UW talent out into the state," he said.
The hope is the connections students establish in the Gillette area will increase the chance they will return upon graduation.
"That increases the likelihood dramatically that we're going to be able to keep them here… what we're doing is growing our own as opposed to trying to recruit ones to come back," he said.
Christensen said that this new instructor position will help move things along for the partnership, and that. The funds are available for the upcoming school year.