About RISE  | Our Re-launch | Projects | PartnershipsOur History

About RISE

RISE is a collaboration of STEM educators from Colorado community colleges, K-12 and universities to develop innovations in learning by doing and pathways to engineering careers. RISE is supported by RRCC's Center for Engagement and Innovation.

Red Rocks Community College launched RISE in 2010 to create innovations in STEM where students develop the skills, mindsets, and sense of purpose needed to thrive in a rapidly changing world. RISE was originally funded by Community First Foundation through the Leach Family Donor-Advised Fund from 2010-2013. RISE launched a Fellows program with educators from Red Rocks, Jeffco K-12, and Colorado School of Mines. Fellows launched new initiatives, such as the IDEA Lab at Red Rocks, a student innovation and engineering center, project-based learning and iSTEM in Jeffco, and Engineering by Doing with Colorado School of Mines where student innovators problem-solve around challenges with local and global impact. Engineering by Doing resulted in a new transfer course to Mines, EGT 140 Introduction to Design and Engineering Applications (IDEA).

Our re-launch

As we transition from crisis to recovery after the Coronavirus pandemic, RISE will strengthen efforts to develop innovative talent pipelines for the communities we serve. Red Rocks students are entering the workforce during high unemployment and amidst grave uncertainty. Being adaptable, creative and thinking like an entrepreneur were already highly needed mindsets to be successful in our economy; post-COVID19 these attributes will be even more necessary. 

Red Rocks Community College’s IDEA Lab Answers a Call for Help During COVID 19

Student shows a 3d printed piece over a Zoom call


Current Projects:

Expand Engineering by Doing into K-12
Facilitating a collaboration with Engineering @ Red Rocks Community College and STEM @ Jeffco Public Schools to implement Engineering by Doing into K-12 through several initiatives, including the High School Innovation Challenge, a Teacher Fellow Program, and Exploring Innovation workshops.

Equity in STEM, Innovation and Makerspaces
Community college students, often low-income, first-generation, single parents, veterans, or students of color, are not seen as likely innovators. Yet they are motivated to improve their lives, the lives of others, and the environment around them by combining their life experiences with new knowledge and skills to make a positive impact on the world. The Equity in STEM, Innovation and Makerspaces project seeks to understand how best to support these unlikely innovators through the design, engagement, operation, mentorships and funding of innovation and makerspaces across Colorado community colleges.

Select Past Projects:
Engineering by Doing

RISE facilitated a collaboration among engineering design faculty from Colorado School of Mines and RRCC, the RRCC Engineering Club and student veterans at Red Rocks to design and pilot the IDEA class (EGT 140 Introduction to Design and Engineering Applications), a project-based and hands-on approach to engineering. EGT 140 is now an approved transfer class for Mines and CU-Boulder.

Sustainability Fellows: Developing faculty as transformative agents of change for sustainability
Fellows program for educators from Jeffco Public Schools, RRCC and Colorado School of Mines. Acting as a cohort, fellows developed educational programming and initiatives around STEM and sustainability.

Business Partnerships

There are many ways for businesses to be involved with RISE. Some possibilities include:

  • Provide a student internship
  • Provide a design challenge
  • Become a mentor
  • Host a site visit
  • Sponsor an event, challenge, hackathon, etc.
  • Serve as a competition judge
  • Donate equipment or materials

Our History

August 2010 – Red Rocks Community College launched RISE to transform education so that community college students will develop the mindsets, skills, and sense of purpose needed to thrive in a rapidly changing world. RISE was funded by Community First Foundation through the Leach Family Donor-Advised Fund from 2010-2013

2010-2012 – RISE Fellows from across RRCC, Mines and Jeffco piloted initiatives in sustainability, engineering design and 21st century learning

2012 – RISE was awarded Outstanding Program by Colorado Community College System

2013 – RISE launched a new course in project-based learning and engineering design. In partnership with GrowHaus and Colorado Aquaponics, RISE students build RRCC's aquaponics system in the college greenhouse. This course would become IDEA (Introduction to Design and Engineering Applications) and accepted as transfer to Colorado School of Mines

Students in greenhouse talking with groundskeeper

2014 – RISE focuses on innovations in STEM Education, awarded $500k from NSF to engage and retain low-income/first generation community college students in STEM through projects that matter

2014 – RISE opened the IDEA Lab as a physical space for STEM students to collaborate on projects, resulting in a makerspace for RRCC

2015 – RISE and the IDEA Lab supported a student team who won first place in the National Science Foundation Community College Innovation Challenge (as well as top 10 teams 2016-2018)

2016 – RISE’s IDEA Lab is awarded Outstanding program by Colorado Community College System

2017- RISE is awarded a grant from the Colorado Community College System to Create Workforce for the Innovation Economy, and becomes part of RRCC’s Center for Engagement and Innovation

2018 - The IDEA Lab hosts first High School Innovation Challenge with support from Xcel Energy Foundation

2020 - RISE strengthens partnerships with K-12 and universities to develop innovative pathways into engineering and problem-solve around community problems after COVID19 and economic turbulence.

For more information:

Contact Liz Cox, Director, Center of Engagement and Innovation at 303-914-6230 or liz.cox@rrcc.edu