Fort Lewis College's Dr. Don Rabern, Dr. Ryan Haaland, and President Dene Thomas with Vantiv's Matt Taylor and Matt Ozvat

Vantiv gives to support Fort Lewis College and the “creative geeks”

In fall 2017, Fort Lewis College’s (FLC) new Computer Engineering degree will officially launch, and it’s not just students and professors who are excited. Vantiv Integrated Payments, the company that acquired Durango’s Mercury Payment Systems, LLC in 2014, has donated $25,000 to support the new program.

“We’ve been paying very close attention to what’s happened with the computer sciences, now the computer engineering program,” explains FLC alumnus Matt Taylor, Vantiv group president of Integrated Payments and Emerging Channels. “As soon as it started to take shape, we knew we’d be a partner in some format.”

“This being a liberal arts college as well, it’s really exciting having the computer [engineering] program underneath that umbrella,” says Vantiv’s Head of Developer Integrations Matt Ozvat. “What we’re seeing is that we need to have computer scientists who are more creative.” Adding that, “I would think that’s the biggest skill: the creativity with the geek.”

Training the “creative geeks” is something Fort Lewis College is built to do. All of FLC’s programs are built upon the liberal arts foundation that led to the College’s designation as Colorado’s public liberal arts college. What this means is that computer engineering students don’t just study computer engineering, they study art, music, English, philosophy, and history. As Mr. Ozvat says, FLC produces graduates who possess “the creativity with the geek.”

“We want to build a broad skill set that gives [students], not just a focused engineering degree, but embed it in a liberal arts curriculum that makes them well-rounded people, learners, and adaptable lifelong learners,” says Dr. Ryan Haaland, chair of the FLC Physics & Engineering Department.

“I feel like with Don [Rabern, FLC visiting professor of physics & engineering] and I, we’ve hit the nail on the head with what our vision and mission is for this program, and it really dovetails perfectly with what Vantiv sees as the future.”

Mr. Taylor is particularly gratified to be helping his alma mater, a place that not only helped him achieve his dream of building his own business here in Durango, but has been so instrumental in the success of so many of Vantiv’s employees.

“I feel like we’ve had a fairy tale story being able to do what we do… well anywhere,” he says. “The fact that we get to do it in Durango is fantastic. The fact that we get to do it amongst people who are like minded and come from like paths and support an institution like Fort Lewis that has helped so many people, including 120-130 of our current employees, is really, really special.”

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