Published: May 9, 2018

The third class to graduate with the ATLAS Institute's Bachelor of Science degree in Technology, Arts & Media (TAM) includes 24 students, eight times the number of students to walk the aisle just one year ago when the institute’s first undergraduate degrees were conferred. 

The spring 2018 group graduates just three years after the interdisciplinary major in the College of Engineering and Applied Science was established. And looking ahead, projections are for nearly 60 additional students to graduate with TAM degrees during the 2018-19 school year, making it the fastest growing undergraduate degree programs at CU Boulder.
The TAM bachelor's degree grew out of the ATLAS Institute’s popular TAM minor and certificate programs, which were launched in the late 1990s and now enroll around 1,000 students, more than 50 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.

Emma Wu displays a website she designed and coded.

Emma Wu displays a website she designed and coded.

Graduating senior Emma Wu said she originally enrolled as a TAM minor, but quickly switched to a TAM major after taking her first class.

“TAM is my favorite,” says Wu, who receives three degrees from three different colleges on May 10, along with a minor in business. “TAM truly allowed me to explore myself at the edge of technology and creativity. The instructors are so supportive of this community, and TAM is what I connect to the most because of the support.”
After graduation, Wu plans to look for a position as a user interface/user experience (UI/UX) designer in New York City.

“If I hadn’t taken David Schaal's Web class,  I wouldn't know how much I love web development and UI/UX design,” continues Wu, who has two jobs: a web and poster designer for CU Boulder’s Student Academic Success Center, and a digital designer for a private firm. “I worked on one of his projects till three in the morning and did not realize the time.” 

Graduate degrees
ATLAS also confers nine Master of Science degrees this May, including four from the Creative Technologies + Design (CTD) track and five from Information & Communication Technology for Development.

Angel Lam, a graduating CTD student advised by industry mentor Andy Stone, created “Yokaido” for her senior design project. A platform to leverage the collaborative energy of fandom, Yokaido provides a new way to share Japanese anime with the world. 

“From a very young age, anime has been my source of courage, passion and strength, and I wanted to share that with the world,” Lam says.  “I chose the CTD program because I wanted to start an anime company, and the program allowed me the flexibility to do so. I came to ATLAS to get the skills to turn it into a real company.”

Ian Smith with Google Cardboard

Ian Smith focused on 3D design for his master's degree.

Ian Smith, another graduating CTD student, arrived at ATLAS with a film background and wanted to learn technical skills that would “take him to the next level.” Smith was advised by ATLAS Senior Instructor Aileen Pierce for his thesis project, "Protoplanet," an open-source platform for mixed-reality prototyping.

“I am leaving CTD with a whole range of computer science abilities I didn’t have before,” he says. “I never could have imagined two years ago that I would be programming network architecture. That’s been an interesting shift for me. It’s not something I was comfortable with, but now I can say, 'I know how to do it, and I know how to do it well.' ” 

As the door closes on another academic year, ATLAS is already busy laying plans for the fall and beyond, with new labs opening and existing academic programs expanding. “The next few years are going to be transformational for ATLAS,” says ATLAS Director Mark Gross. “This year has seen a lot of change, but it’s only the beginning.”