Published: Sept. 5, 2018

Byyny Schnabel Lobby Dedication ceremony

Richard Byyny looks at the sign honoring him and Bobby Schnabel after it is unveiled at a ceremony in the ATLAS Roser Center on Sept. 5. From L: Philip P. DiStefano, chancellor of CU Boulder; Mark Gross, ATLAS director; Dick Byyny, former CU Boulder chancellor; and Bobby Schnabel, professor of computer science and first director of ATLAS.

The founders of the 21-year-old ATLAS Institute, Richard Byyny and Bobby Schnabel, were honored on Wednesday in a naming ceremony in the Roser ATLAS Center in a space that now bears their names—the Byyny-Schnabel Lobby.  The ceremony was attended by Chancellor DiStefano, committee members that helped realize the vision, along with a group of CU Boulder students, faculty and staff.

Both honorees spoke at the event: Byyny, who served as chancellor of CU Boulder 1997–2005, recalled a demonstration of Mosaic in the mid-1990s that helped him understand the World Wide Web and its vast potential. "I came out of that room and I knew it was going to change everything," said Byyny. After becoming chancellor, he charged his Chief Information Officer Bobby Schnabel, with launching an initiative that would prepare all students for the information revolution, not just computer scientists and engineers.

Recalling this early meeting, Schnabel held up a blank sheet of paper to represent the open-ended directive Byyny gave: “It was the greatest thing; we had full license to innovate,” said Schnabel.

Current ATLAS Director Mark Gross commended Byyny and Schnabel’s vision in creating the institute, and the critical role his predecessors and campus leadership have played in guiding and supporting its evolution over the last two decades.

Today, ATLAS enrolls approximately 1,200 students, supports one of the fastest growing bachelor’s degrees on the CU Boulder campus (an unconventional, interdisciplinary engineering program that blends design and creative technologies) and houses a rapidly growing portfolio of research labs.