Graduating in May 2022 with degrees in Creative Technology and Design, the graduate and undergraduate students listed below are recognized for exceptional accomplishments, having demonstrated initiative in their academic and extracurricular activities, completing outstanding research or creative projects, or contributing significantly to the ATLAS community.
Outstanding Undergraduate Student Awards
In their own unique ways, the spring 2022 Distinguished Undergraduate student awardees listed below have demonstrated creativity, confidence, capability, community and collaboration. ATLAS recognizes them for their interdisciplinary accomplishments, their spirit of invention and creative exploration, and the many ways they have contributed to the community.
EO Rafelson / BS, Creative Technology and Design
Graduating summa cum laude, EO Rafelson's exceptionally distinguished academic performance is matched by an impressive portfolio of technical and creative work. For his senior independent study, EO's work in motion graphics “required top-level dedication to the craft,” according to Teaching Assistant Professor Sheiva Rezvani. And for his senior Capstone project, “Kaleideo,” EO gave two performances in the Fiske Planetarium involving full-dome, dynamic projections from a kaleidoscope he fabricated, collecting the imagery using a smartphone then processing it for the planetarium's projection system. Both performances elicited standing ovations from the audience, "taking them to new heights of a shared emotional sensory experience,” says Rezvani, who taught his Capstone class. "He's demonstrated competence working with electronics, motion graphics, light design and 3D animation," she said. “EO's Capstone is one of those projects that will literally stick with you for the rest of your life,” she said. “He is a student we as an institute are so proud of, and I am excited to see how he will apply his creativity and technical skills in the world at large.”
Patrick Mardis / BS, Creative Technology and Design and Computer Science Minor
Patrick has distinguished himself as a student capable of outstanding creative and technical work. He is recognized for his thoughtfulness and insight, as well as his commitment to excellence in his work. In his Capstone project, “GNFT," he picked a project involving the relatively new field of non-fungible tokens” said Teaching Associate Professor Aileen Pierce, an associate director of undergraduate programs, adding that Patrick surpassed his initial goals for his Capstone project. Teaching Assistant Professor Sheiva Rezvani said she feels grateful for Patrick's attitude, skill and creativity. “He is a rare student who not only has exceptional interdisciplinary skills in coding using methodologies of art and design, but he is also unafraid to use those skills to experiment and explore novel tools and forms of creative expression. When he brings this work back into the classroom, he is completely open to feedback and to participating in the success of everyone around him.”
Zayna Sheikh / BS, Creative Technolgy and Design and BA, Astronomy
Zayna is an outstanding student majoring both in Creative Technology & Design and astronomy. She served as a graphic design intern at LASP and has a strong interest in game design. Zayna received a College of Engineering Research Award for her role in game development and leadership in the ATLAS Whaaat!? Lab. She has been a fixture in the Whaaat!? Lab, not only as a lab assistant providing support for student projects, but also contributed significantly to the lab’s research in alternative controllers and experimental audio. Zayna also helped plan the 2020 and 2021 Whaaat!? Festivals alongside lab directors and Teaching Associate Professors Matt Bethancourt and Danny Rankin. Bethancourt added that Zayna pushes group projects into “exciting directions,” and the success of her Capstone project, “Spooked,” is clear evidence of this. Her documentation on github repos “is far and away the best I have ever seen,” said Bethancourt. He added that this hard-work paid off on projects like “Plinko Burger,” which was accepted to the 2022 alt.ctrl.GDC showcase in San Francisco. “For an undergraduate project to be accepted at such a prestigious event is incredible and exemplifies her skills,” said Bethancourt. “Zayna is one of the brightest students I have worked with, and I cannot speak more highly of her abilities, dedication and promise. She sets high goals for herself and never fails to follow through with exceptional results. She will definitely go on to do something extraordinary.”
Mallory Benna / BS, Creative Technolgy and Design, Computer Science Minor
Mallory has served as a lab assistant in the Unstable Design Lab working on smart textiles and wearable technologies with Lab Director and Assistant Professor Laura Devendorf. As a student Learning Assistant for the “Computations Foundations” course (ATLS 1300), Mallory assisted students with Python and creative coding, facilitated weekly recitation sessions and provided curriculum assistance. In Devendorf’s "Critical Technical Practice" course (INFO 4606), her work was the best blend of theory and practice — “showing she was able to translate the more philosophical concepts of speculative design into physical products that were compelling to both me, our external expert reviewers and the other students,” Devendorf said. Teaching Assistant Professor Sheiva Rezvani said that Mallory has been doing “beautiful work” in her Data Selfie course. “I'm so impressed with not only her commitment to the work, but that she seems to be operating out of a sense of true curiosity and passion that is infectious for her classmates,” Rezvani said. “She also has been taking the initiative in ways I rarely see, specifically in the ways she communicates and creates documentation of her work and asks for support in planning for her professional future.”
Dani Emrich / BS Creative Technology and Design, Space Minor
Dani supports the ATLAS community with her positive energy, leading tours, and offering program overviews for prospective students. As a student she holds herself to a very high standard and with an excellent eye and skills for visual design, she has excelled in the classroom. Because she effectively articulates elements of design principles to others, she has been highly valued as a Learning Assistant (LA) both for “Web” (ATLS 2200) and “Text” (ATLS 2300) classes, and has also served as head LA and student tutor. As a student volunteer for the Whaaat!? Festival, Dani committed a lot of her time for the logistics and leadership of the event. “Dani is super-engaged in classes, displays compassion and has thoughtful insights and constructive feedback for fellow students,” said Danny Rankin, a Teaching Assistant Professor. “She’s remarkably funny, and this sense of humor enables an effective feedback process. She represents the very best of the CTD program.”
Distinguished Graduate Student Awards
The Distinguished Graduate Student Award recognizes graduating students earning Master of Science Degrees in Creative Technology and Design, specializing in one of two tracks: Information and Communication Technology for Development or Social Impact, and Creative Industries. Recipients have achieved academic excellence and demonstrated exceptional creativity and curiosity in the pursuit of their degrees. By exemplifying qualities that distinguish ATLAS as a unique academic and research community, they have earned the commendation of the ATLAS faculty for their hard work, creativity, character and performance.
Océane Andréis / MS-CTD, Social Impact track
Outstanding Social Impact Award
Océane is a hard worker who constantly strives to improve her skills and a leader committed to social impact. She single-handedly took on a lab project that normally would require two to four students, and even when working solo, she doubled-down to ensure that the end-deliverable would be given to an organization that impacts society. Her practicum project, “Super Humane," a B corporation that puts humans in their design methodology, focused on accessibility for web-based software. Steadfastly committed to making code more fun for those who might not think of themselves as coders or have the confidence to try, Océane has also demonstrated exceptional leadership within the ATLAS community, working for two years as a co-leader of T9Hacks, a hackathon designed to be a welcoming and safe place for women and traditionally underrepresented students. “As a person, Océane is humble and kind, and likely isn’t aware of how incredible she is and what a big impact we know she will have on the world,” said Jill Dupré, ATLAS Associate Director.
Peter Rosenthal / MS-CTD; Creative Industries track
Outstanding Community Service Award
Peter is known for having a giving nature. From the beginning, Peter was recognized by students as a go-to resource for assistance with programming and creative code. Graduate Instructor Justin Gitlin described how adept Peter was as a peer tutor over the past three semesters, including during the pandemic. “Peter demonstrated patience, compassion and found ways to offer constructive feedback, as well as suggestions for improvement,” Gitlin said. “That’s a rare quality for a graduate student and shows deep insight into the material as well as the student experience.” In addition to graduate studies, Peter balanced a full credit load of coursework with an outside professional job. Ruscha Cohen, co-director of graduate programs, said, “When we told Peter that scaling back tutoring was an option, Peter responded how much they enjoyed working with classmates. We honestly don’t know how to fill Peter’s shoes after graduation, but we’re thrilled to know that there are so many people already in line to hire Peter based on the very qualities we experienced these last two years.”
Isha Kanu / MS-CTD; Creative Industries track
Outstanding Community Service Award
From the very start, Isha stepped up as an active leader in the community. She not only took the initiative to help with the community fabrication space, dubbed “Grad Lab”, during a period of transition, with a growing community, during a pandemic, but she also volunteered consistently as a community organizer within her cohort. As the Grad Lab assistant she helped design a space that would increase student engagement, maintained access and equipment, and worked with ATLAS staff on orientation sessions. She also took the initiative to start organizing MS student lunches, as a way to connect during the pandemic’s first year. In the classroom, Isha is a source of energy, bringing thoughtful responses and encouraging discussions on difficult topics. She excels in both her writing and speech. “Isha is thoughtful, dedicated and incredibly dependable,” said Ruscha Cohen, co-director of graduate programs. “Her contributions, enthusiasm and sense of responsibility have been incredibly valued over the last two years. We are confident she will take that same energy into her professional life and create an invaluable role in whatever community she joins next.”
Alexandru Mandrila / MS-CTD; Creative Industries track
Outstanding Community Service Award
Alex embodies the kind of positive energy and generosity that makes our ATLAS community special. He is quick to lend a hand and share his experience with others, including fabrication, web design, programming, and industrial sewing. His generosity also extended beyond the classroom and campus; at the start of the pandemic when PPE was scarce, he offered hand-sewn masks to his colleagues. Additionally, ATLAS now boasts a fully equipped sewing lab space thanks to Alex. When ATLAS Director Mark Gross discovered an old industrial sewing machine in a reusable resource space, Alex was already working on the machine before it was out of the car! Alex has facilitated the necessary materials and sewing supplies, helped purchase additional machines, and has offered weekly workshops to help cultivate a community of fabric-friendly hackers, wearable technology fans, and smart textile designers. Now housed in the ATLAS Blow Things Up Lab, the sewing lab boasts three heavy-duty machines and a wealth of unusual fabrics. “The sewing lab would have never happened without Alex jumping on the project and his skills and genuine openness has allowed a true community to take root here at ATLAS.” .