Member Profile: Hwei-Shin Harriman
1. What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?
I’m lucky to say that I am still in school! I am currently wrapping up my junior year at Olin College of Engineering, where I study software engineering. This summer, I am thrilled to be returning for my second software development internship at Tableau, a company that makes powerful data visualization software.
2. What was your first job?
My first summer out of high school, I worked as a sales associate at an athleisure store for kids… it was an interesting experience to say the least.
3. Where did you complete your formal education?
I will be graduating from Olin College of Engineering in May 2021! Olin is a really unique, small (350 students total, ~85 students per grade), project-based engineering school outside of Boston. At the moment, I’m taking a semester “abroad” at Parsons School of Design in Manhattan, where I’m studying communications design.
4. How did you first get involved with ACM SIGGRAPH?
My parents have been taking me to SIGGRAPH since I was in a stroller! As a very young kid, I thought SIGGRAPH was absolutely the coolest thing (interactive games in E-Tech, fun toys from the Exhibition, etc.). Though we stopped attending when I was about 10, I never forgot how much I wanted to be able to get the full conference experience (6-year-olds are, understandably, not allowed into the Exhibition, for instance). I discovered the Student Volunteer Program when I was in high school, and applied as soon as I was eligible, then applied to be a Team Leader, and I’m still totally hooked :)
5. What is your favorite memory of a SIGGRAPH conference?
I have way too many to pick just one. In myfirst year as a Team Leader, I came to appreciate how much of this conference hinges on the dedicated individuals who pour their time, energy, and generosity into preparing and running it. Many of my favorite memories are just the small conversations that I have had with contributors, student volunteers, and committee members while running around the conference.
6. Describe a project that you would like to share with the ACM SIGGRAPH community.
Last semester, my teammate and I built a tool that allowed a user to enter a search term (i.e. “astronomy”, “US election”, “machine learning”, “Harry Potter”, etc.), and it would return a list of similar topics/links to articles that were most related to the original search term .It worked by scraping Google search results, Wikipedia, andseveralnews sites for articles about the original search term,. It worked by scraping Google search results, Wikipedia, and a number of news sites for articles about the original search term, using those articles to dynamically build a dataset, and performing topic modeling to determine what topics were closely related to the search term.
7. If you could have dinner with one living or non-living person, who would it be and why?
Any of the professors at Olin. They are all such generous, multi-talented, and passionate individuals, and they always have fun stories to tell.
8. What is something most people don’t know about you?
Before starting engineering school, I took a couple of years off to become a professional ballerina. I graduated from the San Francisco Ballet School and moved to Amsterdam, where I trained with the Dutch National Ballet until a serious injury ended my hopes at a career.
9. From which single individual have you learned the most in your life? What did they teach you?
Both of my parents. They taught me how to stay curious and how to persevere when times are tough.
10. Is there someone in particular who has influenced your decision to work with ACM SIGGRAPH?
The Team Leaders and Student Volunteer Subcommittee at SIGGRAPH 2018. This group of spectacular individuals really embodied the selfless, good-natured, helpful, type of person that I have encountered so many times at SIGGRAPH. Now, SIGGRAPH feels like a big family reunion *and* the coolest conference ever.
11. What can you point to in your career as your proudest moment?
Presenting my intern project at the end of last summer. I had worked overtime all week to finish up all of my assigned tasks, and it felt so good to be able to sit in a room with my manager, mentor, fellow interns, teammates, and senior management and show them my completed project after 13 hard weeks of work. Afterward, my second line manager and third line PM pulled me aside to say congratulations, and I was basically walking on air for the rest of the week.