Member Profile: Richard W. Lewis

1. What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?

I am an Assistant Professor in the Animation Program at Middle Tennessee State University. I just finished my third year at MTSU teaching classes in motion graphics, compositing, 2D character rigging, and intro level 2D and 3D classes.

2. What was your first job?

I worked as a plumbers assistant for a summer digging ditches, breaking concrete, and unfortunately dealing with sewage.

3. Where did you complete your formal education?

I earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Art with a concentration in Drawing from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH. After I went on to the Savannah College of Art and Design to earn an MFA in Animation.

4. How did you first get involved with ACM SIGGRAPH?

I learned about the SIGGRAPH conference in grad school but never had the opportunity to attend as a student. Once I moved out to Los Angeles to work in the industry, I would attend whenever the conference was in LA or Anaheim. It wasn’t until I started teaching at MTSU that I began submitting content and volunteering.

5. What is your favorite memory of a SIGGRAPH conference?

So far I think my favorite memory is when I had an assignment accepted into Groovy Graphics and I was able to give a 20 minute presentation on it during the SIGGRAPH 2018 conference in Vancouver.

6. Describe a project that you would like to share with the ACM SIGGRAPH community.

I have been working on a project called “Hidden Town in 3D”. It is a partnership between Middle Tennessee State University’s Public History, Animation, and Aerospace programs, and Old Salem Museums and Gardens to recover and represent the stories of the African Americans who lived in the Moravian town of Salem, North Carolina in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The goal is to give students hands on real world experience while creating a public service. The two intended final outputs for this project are an augmented reality application that can be used onsite at Old Salem allowing visitors to see slave dwellings where they once stood and a virtual tour using gaming technology of the entire town in the year 1860 with African-American stories and homes re-integrated into the townscape that is not possible to recreate physically.

7. If you could have dinner with one living or non-living person, who would it be and why?

I would choose Leonardo da Vinci as he has such a variety of knowledge and it would be fun to discuss how far art, science, and technology have changed.

8. What is something most people don’t know about you?

Besides from being a plumbers assistant from question 2, I also worked as a cashier in a casino for a few years.

9. From which single individual have you learned the most in your life? What did they teach you?

To just pick one I would have to go with my wife, as she teaches me new things all the time, and we continue to keep learning together as parents.

10. Is there someone in particular who has influenced your decision to work with ACM SIGGRAPH?

Kevin McNulty encouraged me to get involved with the Education Committee and has mentored me in taking over his previous role as the curator for the Faculty Submitted Student Work Exhibit which I have now done for the past 2 years. It is inspiring to see how active he is and how he has encouraged myself and so many of our students and alumni to be active in the organization.

11. What can you point to in your career as your proudest moment?

The proudest moments for me are when colleagues bring me on to projects or recommend me for work/honors like being nominated for this member profile.