Interview: Gudrun Enger, Director for Communications, ACM SIGGRAPH
If the word "SIGGRAPH" ever becomes a household name, it will be due in part to the efforts of Gudrun Enger, Director for Communications for ACM SIGGRAPH. Enger's two year, volunteer tour of duty began July 1. She is directly responsible for the content and direction of the siggraph.org website. She's also directly responsible for her three-and-a-half-month-old daughter Alice's first SIGGRAPH.
The Director for Communications is an ACM SIGGRAPH Executive Committee position, responsible for the SIGGRAPH website, attracting and retaining new members, and increasing the name recognition of ACM SIGGRAPH. Enger notes that filling the job is a process of bringing her own skills to the position and molding it to take advantage of her particular talents.
Users of the siggraph.org website will notice many improvements in the future thanks to Enger's leadership. Her goal is to make the site a portal into the larger graphics community. A constantly-updated news feed from Computer Graphics World magazine is currently being negotiated. Discussion boards featuring topics in computer graphics are planned, as well as a feature called "Ask Dr. SIGGRAPH." Enger explains that "Ask Dr. SIGGRAPH" will be a panel of graphics luminaries assembled for the task of answering users' questions. The final product, Enger hopes, will be making siggraph.org a one-stop site for all things computer graphic.
Enger keeps very busy brainstorming such improvements, but fortunately working for free is not without benefits. "I can see results and impacts that are made," Enger says of her volunteerism. She has discovered that working for a professional organization like ACM SIGGRAPH has brought her recognition and respect in the workplace. Enger recalls one position she held in the working world where she was given no leadership responsibilities. Volunteering with ACM SIGGRAPH gave her the opportunity to be a leader. "SIGGRAPH has given me opportunities," she says.
Enger began her affiliation with SIGGRAPH in 1995, working for SGI and supporting SGI's exhibit. She was a member of the Creative Applications Lab (CAL) subcommittee in 1997 and moved on to chair the CAL in 1999, her most memorable year at SIGGRAPH.
Enger stepped into the computer graphics world in 1983, looking for something "exciting" and "dynamic." She took an administrative position at SGI and did not directly deal with graphics technology. Instead she worked on "travel and group lunches." All that changed when she was asked to write a simple piece of microcode to sort three variables. After being given a crash course in the programming language she successfully implemented the sort, which went on to be an integral part of the Nintendo 64 game console. Enger never looked back, eventually becoming a systems administrator. Enger mentions Steve Anderson, a longtime graphics practitioner as a career mentor who helped her in her professional life. Enger lists her current employment status as "mother."
Commenting on this year's conference, Enger says she enjoys the community atmosphere and closeness of the convention center. She says she is constantly running into friends as she walks around the center with Alice in tow.
Looking into the future of the computer graphics industry, Enger expects to see a recentering of effort and a less haphazard system of growth. She believes ACM SIGGRAPH as an organization will make more connections with the larger graphics community: "SIGGRAPH is going to expand its circle of friends." She sees her children growing up in a world filled with computers and hopes they will become creators of technology, not just users of technology. Her son Peter and daughter Alice are "the best part of my life right now."