Colorado State Alumni, Department Head Donate $150,000 to Support Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Projects

Colorado State University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering has received three private gifts totaling $150,000 to support its nationally recognized Senior Design Practicum. The gifts, which will be used to promote education and research, are from two Colorado State engineering alumni and the head of the mechanical engineering department.

Alumnus Brett Anderson and his wife Danette pledged $100,000 to support the design practicum. Alumnus Joseph Marcus and his wife Carolyn pledged $25,000 to the program. The Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering Allan Kirkpatrick and his wife Susan have given an additional $25,000 in support of the Senior Design Practicum.

"The Senior Design Practicum allows Colorado State engineering students rare and valuable experimental learning experience and beneficial opportunities to develop leadership skills by working on real-world problems. Without the support of alumni, faculty, staff and friends, Colorado State’s participation in these national and international competitions would be limited," said interim Engineering Dean Steven Abt. "Generous donations like these allow the college to continue funding the Senior Design Practicum and recognize the tremendous impact the program has on mechanical engineering students now and in the future."

The Senior Design Practicum is the capstone of the mechanical engineering undergraduate curriculum and combines classroom learning with engineering practice. During their senior year, all mechanical engineering undergraduates participate in designing and manufacturing a complex project judged in a national competition. Students choose to design an SAE race car, a human-powered vehicle, a clean snowmobile, or may team up with electrical and computer engineering students to build a robotic walking machine. Colorado State student teams consistently win or place high in the national competitions.

More than 40 percent of the entering mechanical engineering freshmen cite the Senior Design Practicum as a major factor in their decision to attend Colorado State. As a result, over the last five years the undergraduate enrollment in the mechanical engineering department has grown by more than 60 percent and is now the largest undergraduate engineering program in the Rocky Mountain region.

"The practicum’s goal is to better prepare students for the workplace," said Kirkpatrick. "This valuable experience, unique in higher education, prepares students to take on professional responsibilities immediately after graduation."

For more information about the mechanical engineering department and its Senior Design Practicum, go online to

Brett Anderson     

Brett Anderson, recipient of the 2004 Mechanical Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award and member of the Mechanical Engineering Advisory Panel, is a 1987 Colorado State engineering alumnus. Anderson is a managing partner at the Denver office of Accenture, a global management consulting and technology services company.

Anderson has served as a past host for the university’s Faculty Fireside Chats, master of ceremonies at the 2003 Denver Executive Luncheon and chair of the Corporate Committee on Colorado State’s Development Council. He is a recipient of Colorado State’s Personal Service Award. Danette Anderson also graduated from Colorado State in 1987 with a degree in human nutrition and dietetics.

Anderson credits the mechanical engineering department’s Senior Design Practicum for preparing him for his career by offering a rare opportunity to have one foot in the fast-paced world of industry while the other foot remained in the nurturing academic environment provided by the department’s world-class faculty.

Joseph Marcus

Joseph Marcus, who graduated from Colorado State with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1961, joined the College of Engineering Dean’s Council Board of Directors in 1997 and currently serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board. Marcus was the 2003 Mechanical Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.  

Joseph Marcus served as vice president of Production Operations for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company for 41 years. During his distinguished aerospace career, Marcus worked in engineering design, production engineering, program management and production operations management. As director of Lockheed Martin’s Space Launch Systems Manufacturing at Astronautics Operations in Denver, he was responsible for the assembly and testing of engineering products including Titan and Atlas rockets for NASA and the U.S. Air Force. Marcus also served as director and program manager of the Superconducting Supercollider project and was director of Titan Program Manufacturing.

Carolyn Marcus is also a Colorado State alumnus in physical education, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1960.

Allan Kirkpatrick

As department head of mechanical engineering at Colorado State, Allan Kirkpatrick has played an active role in all levels of undergraduate education in the College of Engineering. He and his wife Susan share a common understanding of the importance of higher education to the development of tomorrow’s leaders, and continually demonstrate this through active participation in numerous department, college and university activities.

Susan is the former mayor of Fort Collins and currently serves as director of the Aims Community College Foundation in Greeley. She has degrees from Colorado State, Harvard and the University of Michigan. Allan holds degrees from MIT and the College of William and Mary.