Andries van Dam
Thomas J. Watson Jr. University Professor of Technology and Education, Professor of Computer Science
|Research Areas:||Graphics and Visualization|
Tell us a little about your background: educational, professional, personal, etc.
I am originally from the Netherlands but immigrated with my parents in 1952. Originally trained as an electronic engineer at Swarthmore College and then University of Pennsylvania for graduate school, I switched to computer science after taking my first course and falling in love with the material. I got the second Ph.D. explicitly in CS in the US, in 1966 in Penn's brand new CS degree program, and came to Brown in 1965 because of its emphasis on undergraduate teaching. I was founding chairman of the Department in 1979.
What do you focus on in your research? Any recent advances?
My main interest is in interactive computer graphics, as reflected by my first technical paper: "Computer-Driven Displays and their Use in Man-Machine Interaction (1966)". The Brown Graphics Group is the longest continuously running graphics research group in the world, and CS123, Introduction to Computer Graphics, is similarly the longest-running graphics course. For nearly two decades I've been most interested in post-WIMP UI's, including Virtual Reality and pen- and touch-computing.
What do you like teaching classes about?
I love teaching beginners, whether in programming/CS or in graphics. Getting students hooked and often changing their lives is a source of great satisfaction.
How did you become interested in computer science?
Taking an elective in the brand-new area of digital computers and programming, to get some relief from the normal math-intensive EE courses
What is your favorite thing about Brown?
The unending stream of great undergraduates who fall in love with the subject as I did, and have great enthusiasm and work ethic. The undergraduate TA and RA programs I started in 1965 are a continuing source of pleasure for me, and have led to nearly 40 students that I worked with over the decades to become academics, the achievement I am most proud of.
Any hobbies or passions?
Outdoor activities (mountain and road biking, skiing, sea-kayaking, scuba-diving, backpacking), my three grandkids, eating and drinking well.