Shehzan Mohammed

Member Profile: Shehzan Mohammed

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

I am a software developer and primarily work on 3D and high-performance computing. I started programming when I was 10, so going about 19 years now. Currently, I am a 3D Software Developer on Cesium, where I help visualize massive geospatial data. I joined Cesium in January 2017. I also teach GPU Programming at the University of Pennsylvania.

2. What was your first job?

I started my career as a Software Developer at ArrayFire, where I worked on high performance software using CUDA, OpenCL and OpenGL. I was a core developer on the ArrayFire software library, an open source, high performance general-purpose GPU computing library. I was at ArrayFire from 2013 to 2016.

3. Where did you complete your formal education?

I received an MSE in Computer Graphics and Game Technology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013. Prior to that, I graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (BE) in Computer Science & Engineering from Osmania University in Hyderabad, India.

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

I started off as a student member of SIGGRAPH. I attended my first SIGGRAPH conference as a Student Volunteer in 2012. The buzz at the conference was palpable and I thoroughly enjoyed my experience.

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

Being a Student Volunteer at SIGGRAPH was a great experience. I got to meet a lot of students from diverse background that broadened my view of the type of work that was being done in the industry. I also had a wonderful impromptu moment with Ben Grossmann (2012 Academy Award Winner for Best Visual Effects for Hugo). I asked him about his Oscar, lo and behold, he had it in his backpack and we took a very memorable picture.

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

I worked on a GPU Path Tracer project in my GPU Programming class. I started off with implementing a GPU Path Tracer in which I was able to incorporate global illumination, anti-aliasing, depth of field, refraction and motion blur. Following this, I was highly motivated to improve this even more and took up optimizations as my final project. I was able to implement a GPU based KD-Tree algorithm to accelerate the Path Tracer. I was able to achieve 30-50x speed up.

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

It would have to be Bill Gates. He pioneered the modern-day computing experience. His recent efforts in philanthropy and medicine are effective beyond anything previously done at that scale.

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

I am an avid fan of FC Barcelona, Ferrari, Roger Federer, and the Settlers of Catan board game.

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

I’d like to attribute this to Patrick Cozzi, first as a teacher at the University of Pennsylvania, and now as CEO of Cesium.

I took Patrick’s GPU Computing class at Penn and it is hands down the most important class I took. He not only taught and tested us brilliantly in the classroom, but also prepared us for the industry and professional life. He introduced us to Github and encouraged open source. He would make us write blog posts about projects, make us speak in class and encouraged collaboration. All of these directly prepared me for interviews and to be ready on day 1 for professional work. I got my first job at ArrayFire as a directly result of taking this class.

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

The ACM SIGGRAPH Student Chapter at University of Pennsylvania was my first introduction to SIGGRAPH. I became a student member of SIGGRAPH. More recently, my work with Cesium has led me to enroll as a professional member.

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

I’m very passionate about teaching, so taking over from Patrick Cozzi to teach GPU Programming at Penn was a great honor. I hope to continue all the great work Patrick has done for over 200 students including myself.