Danny Rankin is a farmer, designer, artist, instructor, musician, hacker, coder, craftsman, husband, veteran and visionary. And this spring, he adds Master of Science in technology, media and society from CU Boulder’s ATLAS Institute to his credentials.
Rankin will be extending his ATLAS stay, teaching several classes in the fall as an adjunct instructor as well as continuing to mentor students in the institute’s Blow Things Up (BTU) Lab.
He’s just not ready to leave, he says.
"BTU is made up of people who don’t like to fit into one box," he says. "They are self-motivated people who like to make things all the time; and I, too, put myself in that category."
Rankin first became involved with the BTU laboratory as an undergraduate student and immediately fell in love with hacking and building circuits and doing weird projects with electronics.
Here, Rankin was encouraged to pursue his personal interests, and he explored his passions. A farmer himself, he wanted to help farmers and ranchers gain control over how they used agricultural technology, without having to worry about being sued by intellectual property owners for modifying the technology.
As an undergraduate, he developed agricultural sensors that detect soil temperature and moisture, giving farmers real-time data about their land. More recently he invented a mobile chicken house that follows grazing cow herds and a room-sized, working model of the Internet that transmits ping pong balls around the BTU Lab.
"Having a space where you work on your own interests rather than a class project was fundamental," he says. "I would have never pictured myself doing this kind of research, but the ATLAS community made it happen."
In the future he hopes to work in creative fabrication design. "I want to custom build for anyone who has weird ideas that they want to turn into reality," he says. "I really just like hands-on work. That makes me super happy."