Alumni Bring Their Expertise to Google and Xerox

Technology-based careers require innovation and attention to detail. However, one doesn’t have to major in computers or engineering to succeed in the tech sector. MICA graduates continue to prove that the ingenuity embedded in MICA’s curriculum is excellent preparation for the most complex careers.

Finding the right fit was what Caleb Gatlin ’07 (interactive media) sought the day he changed his major from graphic design. And the choice helped to shape the designer. “I got the chance to make interactive installations that viewers used to create their own art, a source of constant surprise and wonder,” Gatlin said.

His enthusiasm for the profession has not faded. Gatlin eventually moved to the West Coast, another “right fit” for the designer who works out of Google’s Mountain View, California, office. He is now a learning designer at Google, where he has been for the past three years. Gatlin is responsible for the learning experiences of Google employees (Googlers) by developing trainings in formats such as video, on-demand e-learning, classroom, and Google Hangouts.

He explained, “Beyond just the trainings themselves, our team also develops a number of tools to support learning at Google. We design learning experiments and pilot them with Googlers, using the data to see what's successful and how it can be improved, and then scale the tool to support as much of Google as possible.”

He also facilitated classes on innovation for Google employees, Fortune 500 companies, and elementary school students around the Bay Area. “Now, in my day job, I find myself reviewing training content, trying to find out what it's trying to say, and then teaching that in my own way. Luckily for me, I've been there and done that, thanks to my time at MICA,” he added. Another MICA alumnus at Google is Molly Needelman ’14 (Design Leadership), who is a user experience strategist.

After working in marketing and communications, Needelman grasped how challenging it can be for organizations to effectively explain complex information, so she entered the MBA/MA program offered in partnership with Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School. “I realized that many of the organizations I was working for would benefit from incorporating the creative process into their strategic decision making,” she said. “This program shows an understanding of how business and design leaders will work together in the future, respecting an individual’s ability to be multifaceted, intellectual, and creative.”

Similar to Needelman, Dr. Rob Rolleston ’14 (Information Visualization) pursued a graduate degree at MICA to help cross disciplines. With more than 25 patents to his name, Rolleston is an accomplished principal scientist at Xerox who already held a doctorate degree before enrolling in the master in professional studies program. He looked to MICA to help him enhance his strengths in presenting information visually, and the online component of the Information Visualization program made it feasible for him to study as a busy professional. “I come from a technical background. I strongly believe that Information Visualization is an intersection of disciplines: design for perception, data analysis, and programming for implementation,” Rolleston said.

The expertise Rolleston gained from the program allows him to play a larger role in helping Xerox shift from selling copiers and printers to selling services. “We help our customers deal with their business processes and all the information that goes along with it,” he said.