SIGGRAPH 2019 Distinguished Educator Award: Dam

  • ©2019, Andries (Andy) van Dam



    Distinguished Educator Award


    ACM SIGGRAPH is pleased to recognize Andries (Andy) van Dam with the 2019 Distinguished Educator Award. The Distinguished Educator Award is given annually to a SIGGRAPH member for outstanding pedagogical contributions to computer graphics and interactive techniques. Award criteria include impact on research practice of education as it relates to graphics and interactive techniques, cumulative contributions to the field, innovation in education, influence on the work of others, and being active in the ACM SIGGRAPH Community. The awards committee felt that Prof. van Dam is a clear exemplar of every one of these criteria.

    Prof. van Dam has been on the faculty of Brown University since 1965 and was one of the co-founders, and first department chair, of the Computer Science department there. He currently holds the ranks of Thomas J. Watson, Jr. University Professor of Technology and Education, and Professor of Computer Science. He has helped define what computer graphics means through his pioneering research contributions and the research contributions of the many students he has mentored. He also had a tremendous role in defining how we teach computer graphics. The seminal 1982 textbook, Fundamentals of Interactive Computer Graphics, co-authored with Jim Foley, was the dominant text in the defining early decades of computer graphics, and remains influential and relevant today in its 3rd edition re-titled as Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice.

    Prof. van Dam’s dedication to undergraduate education is especially noteworthy. It is easy to forget that when he first started teaching his legendary computer graphics course at Brown, having the course be open to undergraduate as well as graduate students was a radical idea. Even more radical was having undergraduates serve as TAs for subsequent offerings of the course. Those same students who were TAs for Andy were also often drafted to work on research projects. A survey of his papers from the 80s and 90s shows that almost half his coauthors were undergraduates. These students have gone on to both academic and industrial careers.

    In 1967 Andy and Sam Matsa from IBM co-founded ACM SICGRAPH, the predecessor to ACM SIGGRAPH. Since then he has been a force of nature, a force that is almost entirely dedicated to pushing forward computer graphics and computer graphics education. ACM SIGGRAPH is proud to honor Andy van Dam as the winner of the inaugural Distinguished Educator Award.


    ACM SIGGRAPH Citation