Eight students make up the second class to graduate with the ATLAS Institute's Bachelor of Science in Technology, Arts & Media (TAM).
What’s unusual is that half are women. It’s a path that relatively few women choose to follow, but at CU Boulder’s ATLAS Institute, women engineers are thriving.
“What I love about my degree is that I've made it completely unique to who I am,” said Keren Megory-Cohen, one of the students walking on Thursday. “With a major in technology, arts & media, and a minor in computer science, my classes have provided an array of skills, including web and mobile development, physical computing, virtual reality and much more.”
Overall, women make up almost 41 percent of the 215 students enrolled in the TAM undergraduate major; across the nation less than 20 percent receiving engineering bachelor degrees are female, according to a 2017 report from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.
The group graduates just 2.5 years after the interdisciplinary major in the College of Engineering and Applied Science was established.
The bachelor's degree grew out of the ATLAS Institute’s popular TAM minor and certificate program, which was launched in the late 1990s and now enrolls more than 1,000 students, 58 percent of whom are women.
While students can combine the TAM minor or certificate with any undergraduate degree at CU Boulder, students must be admitted to the College of Engineering and Applied Science to pursue the TAM major.
Aileen Pierce, associate director of the program, says that TAM emphasizes hands-on projects over traditional lectures. "We've attracted women who want to use technology to design and create innovative projects, and we’ve seen them flourish,” she says.
All four women just wrapped up major projects for their last set of TAM classes: Carolyn Castanon coded an interactive website that chronicles her teenage life in the United States after her parents were deported when she was 15; Susana Gomez-Burgos created a low-cost interactive book in Spanish that introduces computer science topics to children from Hispanic backgrounds; Keren Megory-Cohen added to her growing collection of homemade music hardware by building an interactive step sequencer that can create and mix aspects of live performances; and Maggie Patton built a mobile sex education app that provides straightforward, factual information for middle schoolers.
“School became more than a grade to me—it cultivated a strong passion for creative software and electronics,” says Megory-Cohen. “If it weren't for TAM providing an interesting approach to programming and fostering a welcoming community, I wouldn't be where I am today: excited about the future and loving what I do every day.”
Read Carolyn Castanon's story: My American Journey: Website chronicles Latina student’s difficult path to graduation