CU-Boulder Associate Engineering Dean Named New Director Of ATLAS Institute

June 21, 2007

John Bennett, the University of Colorado at Boulder's associate dean of engineering for education, has been named the new director for the campus Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society, or ATLAS.

The ATLAS Institute is a campus-wide program dedicated to integrating information and communications technology with a wide variety of disciplines ranging from music, theater and dance to film studies and journalism. The institute centerpiece is the $31 million ATLAS building that opened in fall 2006. The building has 66,000 feet of classroom, performance and workroom space and serves as an entrepreneurial incubator for interdisciplinary collaboration.

"I'm excited and honored by the challenges and opportunities afforded by this appointment," said Bennett. "The goal of ATLAS is to be an innovator and national exemplar in interdisciplinary education and research, and I'm looking forward to working with the ATLAS staff, board and fellows, as well as deans, department heads, faculty and students to further the mission of the institute."

Bennett replaces former ATLAS Director Bobby Schnabel, who left CU-Boulder this summer to become dean of the Indiana University School of Informatics. Schnabel, Associate Professor Diane Sieber of engineering's Herbst Humanities Program and Bennett created the new ATLAS doctoral program.

ATLAS was established at CU-Boulder in 1997 to integrate information and communication technology in disciplines across the Boulder campus. It is the first building on the CU-Boulder campus to host classes for students from all disciplines.

"John Bennett's background as associate dean of the engineering college and his teaching and research expertise in computer technology make him highly qualified for the demanding position of ATLAS director," said CU-Boulder Provost Phil DiStefano. "John's skill in developing strong technology programs for students from all disciplines will enhance the ATLAS experience for many students in non-technical fields who are served by the ATLAS Institute."

Bennett has served as associate dean for the College of Engineering and Applied Science since 2002. He holds joint appointments in the computer science department, the electrical and computer engineering department and the interdisciplinary telecommunications program.

As associate dean, Bennett led the creation of the engineering honors program and a faculty-mentoring program, and has overseen a variety of service, assessment, recruitment and outreach programs. He also started the Engineering Fellows program and a new initiative designed to improve science and engineering education in rural Colorado schools.

Bennett holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Rice University in electrical and computer engineering and a doctorate in computer science from the University of Washington. He was co-founder and president of Pacific Mountain Research of Seattle, which provided hardware and software engineering services to startup technology companies. Prior to graduate school Bennett was an officer in the U.S. Navy.

Bennett currently is president of the national Governing Board of Engineers Without Borders-USA, a nonprofit, humanitarian organization established to partner with developing communities worldwide to improve their quality of life. The partnerships involve implementing sustainable engineering projects and training globally aware and responsible engineers and engineering students.

Bennett has published more than 50 research papers and holds two patents. His research has focused on distributed information management, distributed robotic macro-sensors, and creating new information and computing technology that advances and empowers women in developing countries.