SIGGRAPH 2023 Distinguished Educator Award: Owen

  • ©2023, G. Scott Owen



    Distinguished Educator Award


    Scott Owen, Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at Georgia State University, has served the SIGGRAPH community in a variety of roles, including that of serving as President of ACM SIGGRAPH. Regardless of the position, however, the source of his interest has been, and continues to be, computer graphics education. In 1990 he became the second chair of the ACM SIGGRAPH Education Committee where he expanded its role and impact and he helped create programs that continue to the present day.  He established a significant place for educators within the organization, thereby providing opportunities for educators to participate and grow in the field of computer graphics and interactive techniques. Under his guidance, the Education Committee supported Barbara Mones, Kenneth O’Connell and Deborah Sokolove (and several other educators representing culturally and geographically diverse schools of art and design) with the opportunity to create proposed standards for curricula in the arts and design for programs focused on computer graphics and interactive techniques The resulting published article was shared with other educators and schools internationally.

    For more than fifteen years, there was no educator/education specific program at SIGGRAPH. There was a one-off education program at SIGGRAPH ’91, but it was not part of the expected offerings at the conference until 1995 when, at the behest of Scott Owen (who negotiated with the conference chair), it was included as a co-located/parallel program with a separate registration. When he became conference chair in 1997, he incorporated it into the core program where it has remained to this day. He started a venue that has grown into a multi-day event with different types of offerings for educators dealing with pedagogy, academy-industry transition (and collaboration), lifelong learning, and much more. Every year Scott Owen visits the annual SIGGRAPH Education Committee meeting that takes place at the conference and encourages educators to get involved in various levels of SIGGRAPH leadership and service, assuring that the interests of educators continue to be served and are always present in the minds of the organization’s leaders.

    Recognizing the significant international attendance at SIGGRAPH, Scott Owen put together a task force to study the possibility of adding a second annual conference which led to the establishment of SIGGRAPH Asia – yet another venue for educational offerings.

    In 2010, Scott Owen along with Gitta Domik, established a new department of education for IEEE Computer Graphics & Applications (CG&A) and the two academics filled the bi-monthly magazine with high quality education papers until 2016. He would use his position and ubiquitous presence at the annual SIGGRAPH conference to listen to papers and presentations with an education focus, seek out authors, and encourage them to further develop their research and submit their findings to the journal for publication.

    Beyond his administrative and organizational skills and presence, Scott Owen led the education community by example and influenced educators with his own work. In the 1980’s he was teaching in the area of Chemistry and became the Chair of the Computers in Chemical Education Committee for the Chemical Education Division of the American Chemical Society and offered workshops in 3D graphics to other chemistry faculty and had several publications in the Journal of Chemical Education about using computers in education. In the 1990’s Scott obtained NSF and SIGGRAPH grants to develop innovative web-based teaching content for graphics (HyperGraph) and then led workshops to help disseminate information designed for educators. Working with Valerie Miller and Gitta Domik, he received additional NSF funding to teach workshops for undergraduate faculty on Data Visualization in 1996 and 1997 and used the funds he received to support the travel expenses for participating faculty. Increasingly involved with computer graphics pedagogy, Owen, along with six co-authors, published “How Visualization Courses Have Changed over the Past 10 Years” in IEEE in 2013 leveraging their collective and intimate knowledge of the state of computer graphics and interactive techniques education gleaned from SIGGRAPH and Eurographics presentations, panels, and workshops. There are technical papers and abstracts as well that include: “Teaching Debugging Skills in Shader-Based Computer Graphics Programming” (with Ying Zhu), “The Impact of Image Choices on the Usability and Security of Click Based Graphical Passwords” (with Xiaoyuan Suo and Ying Zhu), “Experiences in Teaching an Advanced Computer Graphics Course,” and others.

    A pioneer in computer graphics education, Scott Owen has influenced educators in chemistry and computer science as well as interdisciplinary areas like art and design. He has provided opportunities for educators in the area of computer graphics and interactive techniques to learn from one another, to grow individually, and to contribute to the academic and research community.

Additional Information:

    Established in August 2018, the Distinguished Educator Award is given annually to a member for outstanding pedagogical contributions to computer graphics and interactive techniques at any educational level or within the context of any discipline. The award recognizes contributions in both innovative content and delivery. The award is presented annually during the award ceremony at either the SIGGRAPH conference or the SIGGRAPH Asia conference at the choice of the recipient.