By Michael Abeyta

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – The first step taken by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine into the University of Colorado’s newest building in Boulder on Friday was a step into the future.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine at the University of Colorado on Friday. (credit: CBS)

“For the Artemis program — which will take the next man and the first woman to the south pole of the Moon within five years — it very well could be that the first prototype of that lander could be built right here in this room,” he said.

(credit: CBS)

On Friday Bridenstine got a tour of CU’s brand new Aerospace Engineering Science Building.

“It’s been eye opening to see the great collaboration between the students, the researchers, the professors and also the collaboration between the university itself and then government and industry as well,” he said.

(credit: CBS)

The $100 million facility has lots of high tech toys and gadgets, like fabrication labs, and a payload operations center where they can communicate with astronauts on the International Space Station.

“These students are getting hands-on experience from Day 1, so that when they graduate they’re not just graduating with chemistry calculus and physics. They are in fact graduating with very real experience,” said Bridenstine.

(credit: CBS)

It was also a rare opportunity for students to show off their hard work.

“It gives us a little bit of validation that the stuff we’re doing is important,” Aaron Aboaf said.

“On a day-to-day basis we are kind of like in the grind and you don’t sometimes get the chance to look at the bigger picture and look at the contributions that we will be making,” Carolina Peña said.

The opening of this new building is right in line with the history of Colorado, a state that has contributed greatly to space exploration.

“This is the one state where NASA spends more money than any other state, and there’s not even a center here,” Bridenstine said.

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the building will take place on Monday.

Michael Abeyta