1. What do you do and how long have your been doing it?
I am a professor of Visual Computing at Clemson University in South Carolina, where I teach computer graphics, human-computer interaction, and eye tracking. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, having joined Clemson in 1998.
2. What was your first job?
Being a professor at Clemson is really my first job if you don’t count my “Co-Op” experiences as an undergrad at Simon Fraser University. If you do count those, I used to monitor ATMs back when they were fairly new.
3. Where did you complete your formal education?
I got my Bachelors of Science from Simon Fraser University (SFU) and my doctorate from Texas A&M University, both in Computer Science.
4. How did you first get involved with ACM SIGGRAPH?
Student volunteer in 1992, when it was in Chicago. Fun fact: SIGGRAPH was held at McCormick place, same name as my PhD advisor, Bruce McCormick. I thought maybe there was a connection. “I wish,” is all Bruce said. I’ve been attending SIGGRAPH off and on since 1992, including serving on the organizational committee (2019, 2020) as Education Liaison.
5. What is your favorite memory of a SIGGRAPH Conference?
There’ve been many, it’s hard to choose any particular one. I have some fond memories of SIGGRAPH in L.A. and Vancouver, but I suppose the one that sticks out most is when I taught my first course on Eye-Based Interaction in 2000 in New Orleans. I remember walking in with Roel Vertegaal into the full room with an A/V fellow in the corner who had some cool tunes going. When he saw us, he turned down the music and house lights, and it was show time! I don’t think I’ve been as nervous and as excited giving a talk as that one time, early on in my career. However, 2020 may come close as I decided to update that course and it was accepted! This year (I am writing this before SIGGRAPH 2020 takes place), it will be an entirely new experience, being entirely virtual. One for the books to be sure.
6. Describe a project that you would like to share with the ACM SIGGRAPH community.
That’s a nice segue from the point above. My course on eye tracking is definitely something I would like to share with the SIGGRAPH community, although I realize it is a bit of a niche. Another project with a broader perspective are the Groovy Graphics Assignments that I co-founded in 2019. I would very much like computer graphics educators to know about this and to contribute their own Groovy Graphics Assignments to future SIGGRAPH conferences. They are just short 2-page assignments that, while groovy, do not need to be particularly novel. By being groovy they should be engaging for both student and teacher, and easy and fun for teachers to adopt in their own classes. They’re meant as examples of assignments, if, like I do sometimes, you get stuck and are looking for something new (to you) to try teaching in class.
7. If you could have dinner with one living or non-living person, who would it be and why?
Hmm…choosing just one person is too difficult…I’d like to have many dinners, with many people 🙂
8. What is something most people don’t know about you?
I’m a drummer (some people know this already), I used to sky dive (maybe I’ll do it again some time, or learn to fly), and I like to cook (I keep a web page of some things I’ve tried, check it out: http://andrewd.ces.clemson.edu/recipes/).
9. From which single individual have you learned the most in your life? What did they teach you?
I haven’t stopped learning, and I still learn a lot from people I meet. People are often the best resource for learning new things. I suppose apart from my family I’d pick my PhD advisor, Bruce McCormick, without whom I might not have gotten involved with SIGGRAPH. One of the anecdotal things he said that I sometimes remember if/when I get stressed at work (which isn’t often) is that “it’s just a job”.
10. Is there someone in particular who has influenced your decision to work with ACM SIGGRAPH?
See above. And Ginger Alfrod. She got me involved in SIGGRAPH organization, for which I’m grateful as I’ve enjoyed being on the committee.
11. What can you point to in your career as your proudest moment?
I suppose it was co-founding the ACM Symposium on Eye Tracking Research & Applications, or ETRA. ETRA started the same year as my eye-tracking course at SIGGRAPH, but in November. It just recently grew into an annual conference from a bi-ennial one, and I hope that it continues for a great many years to come.