The first graduates of Western Michigan University's new Multimedia Arts Technology program are set to receive their diplomas this Saturday, April 30 and embark on new careers in high-tech, professional music production.

Photo courtesy of Western Michigan University Office of University Relations. Used by permission.

The students have been feverishly working on capstone projects that put an exclamation mark on their academic careers. Projects undertaken by those set to graduate this month range from full-length albums of original music to a new computerized enhancement tool that trains the human ear to better recognize and identify frequencies.

The program started with 20 students in fall 2014, with 20 more added each year after that. Demand for the new program has been very high, says Dr. Richard Johnson, assistant professor of music, who helps run the program.

The program revolves around five main aspects: audio engineering, computer generated audio technology, live sound reinforcement, computer programming and multimedia technology. Students do not have to be traditional music students. In fact, program organizers are looking for students with diverse, often nontraditional musical backgrounds and diversity in career goals, Johnson says. They've been successful in both areas.

"We have students who are interested in doing sound design that goes with video. We have students who want to be the classic sound engineer in a recording studio, and then we have students who are doing electronic dance music," Johnson says. "That diversity of students coming together makes it fun to be on the faculty side of things."