By Hannah Fakhrzadeh
Due to heightened interest in interactive multimedia, the College’s department will celebrate its biggest graduating class.
This May, students will take part in IMM history, according to Rachel Lichtenberg, the IMM department’s program assistant.
“IMM had three graduating seniors in its first class, and we will now have 44 graduating seniors,” she said.
There are currently about 160 IMM majors and 60 minors.
In 2001, IMM became a major at the College thanks to the hard work of Kim Pearson, an associate professor of journalism and professional writing, Phillip Sanders, a professor of art and interactive multimedia, and Ursula Wolz, an associate professor of computer science.
Their goal was to connect JPW with the growing field of technology, so they began the lengthy process of writing a proposal.
The professors wanted the graduating students to use the knowledge they acquired to excel in a variety of professions, according to Pearson.
“We hoped that IMM would be a place of interdisciplinary collaboration that would also enrich its complementary disciplines,” she said. “We wanted it to be structured enough so that a student would have a firm foundation in writing, digital media and interactive computing, but flexible enough for each student to acquire depth and experience in the areas of the student’s choosing.”
Fast forward to 2017: IMM has become a popular major due to its adaptability, according senior IMM major Chris Lundy.
“IMM is a non-traditional major in the sense that we are always taking advantage of new technologies and constantly changing the curriculum to match trends of the various fields,” Lundy said.
Senior IMM major Ryan Laux agreed.
“Technology is at the core of IMM, and everything we do embraces the newest technologies that exist, from new camera gear, to 3D printing and virtual reality,” he said.
The lessons learned in IMM courses are applied to students’ everyday lives. For example, alumnus Joshua Lewkowicz (’15), an assistant animatic editor at DreamWorks Animation, acquired the bulk of his skills through his classes.
“After graduating from the IMM program, the technical knowledge of how to use and apply these programs was able to directly translate into the workflow and environment of DreamWorks Animation,” he said. “Whenever I run into a technical issue with a program, I am able to troubleshoot the problem myself.”
Lundy believes both current and future IMM majors of different specializations will continue to explore the ever-changing digital landscape.
“The internet has certainly taken over much of the professional industry, and nearly everything we learn in IMM has an application in many avenues, from entertainment to advertising, to physical installations and even government,” Laux said.
Each year, the faculty sets a goal of attaining 15 new IMM majors, but Pearson is ecstatic that the program has exceeded their goal.
“It has been gratifying to see (the department) grow beyond our expectations,” Pearson said.
This year not only marks the IMM department’s largest graduating class, but the Fall 2016 semester welcomed the largest incoming freshman class, as well.
IMM was once a male-dominated field, so Lichtenberg was excited to see the incoming freshman class split 50-50 between male and female students.
“I know from talking with IMM women alum that this is particularly exciting, as (the former students) recall that their IMM classes had fewer women colleagues,” she said.
Although it is hard to predict the future, John Kuiphoff, an associate professor and chair of IMM, believes the program has a long and experimental future.
“I think we are going to continue to grow, and we are going to be able to offer even more,” Kuiphoff said. “My hope is that our students and alumni will help to create a future that is bright. I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years will bring.”
Editor’s note: This article reports that this year’s IMM graduating class is the largest in the College’s history, but it is, in fact, exactly the same size as last year’s graduating class. The department has had a 42 percent increase in graduates over the last few years, according to Kuiphoff.
“We’ll probably reach 200 majors within two years,” Kuiphoff said. “That’s really exciting, and it will allow us to do things that we couldn’t do before. … We really put everything we’ve got into making this the best major it can be.”