CAM hits the capitol

Feb 102011
Authors: Erin Udell

CAM the Ram sat eerily still on Friday morning, his huge mascot head peeking over a podium in the Colorado State Capitol’s Senate chambers.

“He looked very alert, didn’t he?” joked CSU President Tony Frank. “I’m biased, but I think he fits better back there than a buffalo.”

CAM watched as members of the House and Senate responded to a bi-partisan resolution passed earlier that morning recognizing the CSU system, including the Fort Collins, Pueblo and the growing CSU Global Campus.

“I’m privileged, and I’m pleased to sponsor this resolution,” said Colorado Representative and CSU alumnus B.J. Nikkel, District 49.
The recognition of the resolution was part of CSU Day at the Capitol, an event –– in addition to Founders’ Day –– that recognizes Feb. 11, 1870 when Gov. Edward McCook first signed a bill authorizing the creation of CSU.

Numerous representatives spoke out in support of the resolution; among them were CSU graduates Rep. Randy Fischer, District 53; Rep. John Kefalas, District 52; Rep. Larry Liston, District 16; and Rep. Matt Jones, District 12.

“I’m lucky to have two degrees from CSU,” said Rep. Jones, who studied political science and natural resource policy during his time at the university.

“In fact, I still remember that John Straayer taught my state and local politics class,” Jones said, pointing to the gallery where Straayer’s group of legislative interns sat. “I don’t know if that tells you how old I am or how old he is.”

With a history dating back to 1870, CSU graduates about 6,800 students each year and is one of the largest employers in northern Colorado. CSU produces about $4.2 billion in state income through its campus projects and alumni.

“It’s always very humbling to hear the impact the institution has had on everyone,” Frank said of the representatives’ earlier remarks. “This is about celebrating the heritage of CSU. That’s why we started this process (Founder’s Day) last year.”

CSU is also Colorado’s only land-grant institution, placing an emphasis on the teaching of agricultural science and engineering.

Demonstrating this passion for research and innovation, several of CSU’s focal programs, like the university’s engines and energy conversion laboratory (EECL), displayed their current projects.

“This is basically a snapshot of what’s going on at the engines lab,” said senior mechanical engineering major Jason Golly, pointing to the laboratory’s display.

Some of the EECL’s current projects include laser based ignition systems, algae-based biodiesel, intelligent electric grid control and clean burning fuel efficient biomass cooking stoves.

“We try to teach students not to just be students,” said Christian L‘Orange, who is currently working on his doctorate in mechanical engineering at CSU. “We’re training them to move on in the world because it’s all about getting our ideas out there.”

Senior Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at

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