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Classy Classes: Music 152A brings in industry experts

RUTH-ANN ARMSTRONG/The Stanford Daily

Music 152A: “Careers in Media Technology,” gives students the opportunity to interact with and learn from industry professionals in a classroom setting. Taught by Jay LeBoeuf M.A. ’00, a lecturer in the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) and a media creation and production industry executive, the two-unit course is designed to give students an overview of the different technical and non-technical roles within a modern media technology company.

Course topics include research and development, marketing, product management, quality assurance, hardware development and business development. Industry leaders from companies such as Pandora, Sonos, Bose, Dolby and Facebook are invited to the class to help give students a first-hand view of the skills and tools that are used in media technology roles.

During the weekly Friday lectures, guest speakers are encouraged to bring in real world assignments similar to projects that their employees are involved with. Typically, lectures begin with a moderated question and answer session during which speakers explain their roles and career paths as well as projects that their employees are working on. Students also have the chance to further shape discussions by asking questions based on their own interests.

LeBoeuf’s teaching is inspired by his own past industry experience. He has worked with companies such as audio and video technology company Avid and audio software company iZotope, as well as his own startup Imagine Research.

“After 15 years in industry, I kept realizing that students often didn’t know how our companies worked,” said LeBoeuf, explaining why he introduced the class four years ago. “I thought it would be really good to take all the companies I was working with and bring them to campus so that we could give back, and so that companies could share with students everything that they wish they knew when they were in industry.”

Jack Ryan ’20, a communications major in the class, said that the lectures provide students with opportunities to connect with industry professionals.

“I’ve been in Seattle for the past few years, so I don’t have a network related to media technology or music, for that matter,” said Ryan. “I’d like to work in the media technology industry, so I’m looking forward to expanding my network.”

Garry Archbold ’20, who is double majoring in Science, Technology and Society and African and African American Studies, sees the class as an opportunity to learn about the journeys taken by different industry professionals to get to their current roles.

“Even hearing professor LeBoeuf talk about where he started and where he ended up, that type of journey is something that really interests me,” Archbold said.

In addition to the Friday lecture, students will collaborate in teams to work on and present projects similar to those encountered in real industry operations. One such project that LeBoeuf is particularly looking forward to involves the students in the class creating a VR audio experience with an immersive 360 degree soundtrack.

“My philosophy on teaching a class is to make it as real world as possible,” said LeBoeuf. “Students are often a little resistive at first to working in a team, but we just try to make it as real world as possible, complete with the social dynamics that come with a team.”

LeBoeuf hopes that the class encourages students to combine the arts and technology in unique ways as well as help students fill gaps between what they are studying and the skills that they will use when they graduate.

“The three words I usually use are educate, empower and inspire,” LeBoeuf said. “We’re empowering students to pursue a role at one of these companies though they might not have previously thought they could do it, and we’re inspiring students. Hopefully if this sets the spark, then we can help them from there.”

 

Contact Ruth-Ann Armstrong at ruthanna ‘at’ stanford.edu.

A previous version of this article misspelled professor LeBoeuf’s name in certain locations. The Daily regrets this error.

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