The ATLAS Institute passes a milestone today when the 100th student receives a bachelor's degree in Technology, Arts & Media (TAM), the institute's undergraduate engineering major. In all, the institute confers 23 bachelor's degrees today, which will bring the total to 120.
TAM's bachelor's program has grown to more than 260 students since its launch in 2015. It grew from the institute’s popular TAM minor and certificate programs, launched in the late 1990s, which allow any student on campus to augment their major with a valuable collection of design and coding skills. Approximately 750 students are currently enrolled in either the minor or certificate programs. To pursue the TAM major, students are first admitted to the College of Engineering & Applied Science.
The institute's graduate program now includes 57 students, 17 of whom are pursuing a PhD. And across the institute's student community, more than 50 percent are women—a remarkable number for academic programs in engineering, says Mark Gross, the institute's director.
"Diversity is fundamental to our vision at ATLAS—a diverse community supports diverse thinking, and that's the currency we deal in," he said.
Graduating senior Isaac Sheets graduates Cum Laude with a BS in TAM today.He says he originally enrolled as an engineering open-option major, but quickly switched to TAM after touring ATLAS during CU Boulder's Admitted Student Day.
"I declared my major as TAM at my first opportunity," Sheets said. "I was intrigued by the program's interdisciplinary nature. It seemed like most other majors were highly specialized, whereas TAM left room for individuality and exploration."
Sheets said he gained a solid technical base through TAM, including front-end development experience for web and mobile platforms. He also said he gained a good understanding of tools and processes that contribute to the look and feel of applications, such as sound and interface design, as well as a background in related fields, including physical computing and computer-aided design/fabrication. His favorite classes included Mobile Application Development and Front-End Web Development, both with Senior Instructor and Associate Director of the TAM program Aileen Pierce, and several courses taught by Instructor Danny Rankin, including TEXT, Interface Aesthetics, and the Capstone sequence.
"I had a great time in TAM," he said. "Most classes are actually fun, and I like how there aren't too many lecture-based classes. They're usually smaller and more interactive than many classes in the college."
Sheets says he's most proud of his Capstone project, a web app that gamifies Twitter by transforming the user's timeline into a series of word games.
ATLAS also confers four Master of Science degrees today, including three from the Information & Communication Technology for Development (ICTD) track. Carolyn Moreau, Babatunde Adegoke and Gena Welk all focused on ICTD, while Annie Kelly's work focused on research.
For his practicum, Adegoke sought to build the capacity of small businesses in his home country of Nigeria, working with a Nigerian consulting company that provides online business courses. "Teaching business owners how to grow their businesses could result in their hiring more employees and thus reduce the country's unemployment problem," Adegoke said. In Nigeria, most businesses are one-person operations.
"To move a business from one person to 10 people, you need to build the skills of that person," Adegoke said. "The biggest issue in Nigeria is knowledge. People in business don’t have the knowledge of business development."
Adegoke said his practicum experience was gratifying.
"When I finished developing the platform, some business professionals tested it, and I received good feedback," he said. "The ICTD program brought in a perspective about life. I was able to learn why technology sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t work, and I was able to learn how to design technology that works for more people."