TATM Tailors Itself To Meet Changing Needs
ATI Special Report
Specializing in textile fields of technology, management, apparel and design, the mission of the department is accomplished by offering bachelor’s of science, master’s of science and Ph.D. degree programs that seek to develop leadership and promote academic excellence.
These programs are designed to provide the student with a thorough background in fundamental concepts of scientific, technological and management principles, and an ability to define and solve challenging technological problems through advanced experimental and computational techniques.
The program offerings in TATM make the department unique within the University of North Carolina system and even unique across North America. The department is recognized internationally as a major center for research and education in the academic discipline of textile and apparel technology and management.
“Many things make the program unique,” said Trevor Little, professor and head of the department of Textile, Apparel and Management. “First, there are 550 undergraduate students. We graduate close to 50 percent of all the textile graduates. The second thing is that as a department it combines four program disciplines: textile technology, textile design, textile management and apparel management.”
The department currently includes about 21 faculty members, 10 post-doctoral research fellows and visiting scholars, about 60 graduate students, and more than 500 undergraduate students. Graduates are employed in the textile manufacturing industry, product development, sales and marketing, quality management, textile design, apparel manufacturing, apparel product development, research and consulting.
Major curriculum changes were made on January 1, 1999, where every graduate of the department is required to pass 10 core courses that provide breadth of knowledge of the entire textile complex.
Each student then takes additional textile, management, apparel or design courses to provide depth in their chosen concentration. This new program was stimulated, in part, by a special study funded by the N.C. Textile Foundation that provided an future direction for the textile complex. The study was conducted by Jerome Link, a retired Celanese executive.
“We had the advantage of having the Link report right around the same time as we were deliberating,” Little said. “It gave us permission to make some significant changes. We felt that five or six core courses were not enough.”
An essential component of the department’s mission is the development of new knowledge through research and the subsequent transfer of this knowledge to both the textile industry complex and society.
The faculty publishes some 35 papers annually and participate in national and international conferences as a means of contributing to overall knowledge as well as bringing new knowledge back to the classroom and the laboratory.
Students enrolled in the TATM department curricula are encouraged to participate in programs abroad. Three to six hours of academic credit are possible during the summer programs, and semester and year-long programs offer full-time-student status. In some cases, study programs are available on a non-credit basis.
Eli Whitney Scholars are enrolled in two degree programs: the bachelor’s of science degree in textile and apparel management and the bachelor’s of arts degree in multidisciplinary studies.
These students can select to study the languages and culture of Latin America, Italy, Germany, Japan or China. Of the 21 current Eli Whitney Scholars, 17 are studying Latin America, 2 studying Italy, 1 studying Japan and 1 studying China. As part of the program requirements, students must intern in a textile operation in the country of study.
Students seeking international experience have several options including: the University Of Leeds, England; the Catholic University of Lille, France; the University of Ghana, West Africa; Cape Coast University, Cape Coast, Africa; the Dominican Republic; and the Center for Bilingual and Multi-cultural Studies, Cuernavaca, Mexico.
The college is currently working to develop programs with universities in Japan and China.
Students who decide to study abroad select a country based on their individual needs and language skills, according to Little.
“Those that go to Central America are going primarily to improve their Spanish,” Little said. “Those that go to England are going there because they feel more comfortable working in English. Those who have studied French, Italian or German, generally got to Europe. They go to build their language skills and to better understand the European culture.”