Originally from Maryland, Chris got his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from UMBC. Now, Chris is pursuing his Ph.D. in Computer Science. When he's not studying, Chris tends to his duties as a father, husband, and full-time software engineer/computer scientist.
When did you know you wanted to study Computer Science?
I actually have degrees in two majors (a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, a M.S. in Computer Science). In high school, I was fairly certain that I wanted to be a mechanical engineer. However, during the course of working towards my Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, I participated in a research project which significantly involved computer graphics and visualization. From that moment on, I wanted to learn more about these subjects and decided to enter the Computer Science program at UMBC.
What are you researching for your thesis?
For my dissertation, I am researching techniques for effectively integrating multiple graphical images or “streams” (i.e. video streams), from separate sources, into a common display. Specifically, I am looking into ways to leverage non-photorealistic rendering techniques to assist in the viewer’s ability to understand what is occurring in the scene. This is based on the idea that time-honored manual illustration techniques, which are employed by artists, are very effective in identifying and highlighting features of interest in a scene. Determining and illustrating these features of interest is critical to sufficiently understanding what is occurring in the composite scene. With the continued pervasiveness of computer power, there is an increasing amount of computing devices (e.g. sensors) that are able to acquire data and generate these graphical images. So much so, that viewing, comparing, and contrasting this image data in the context of one another is gaining in importance. It is my intent that my research can be of significant value in these scenarios.
What are your plans after graduation?
I plan to celebrate the occasion with my family. They have been waiting very patiently for me to finish.
What is your dream job?
My “dream job” is a job in which I am able to perform cutting-edge and impactful research in computer graphics and visualization with a team of colleagues that are interactive and consistently learning from one another.
On UMBC and CSEE…
Why did you choose UMBC?
I began my collegiate career as an undergraduate at UMBC in 1991. The Meyerhoff Scholarship Program and its administrative staff, especially Dr. Hrabowski, was a big factor for me in choosing UMBC.
What was your first impression of UMBC?
I was immediately impressed with the overall staff and faculty at UMBC. There was a strong sense of family and I genuinely felt that they wanted me to be part of that family. This quality was pervasive throughout UMBC and definitely stood out from day one.
What was your first Computer Science Course?
As a required course for the Mechanical Engineering program, I had to take a course in FORTRAN programming. That was a long time ago.
What was your favorite Computer Science course?
I think my favorite CS course was a cross-disciplinary “Special Topics” course that partnered CS students with Visual Arts students. We had to work together on projects that drew upon the expertise of both sets of students. The projects involved developing new computer graphics applications using Maya software. It was an effective way to combine technical and artistic talents to produce very compelling applications. I think both sets of students learned a great deal from working with each other.
What do you like about the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (CSEE) Department?
As a part-time student, I greatly appreciate how the CSEE department has worked with me in developing a plan to complete my degree. The department, especially my advisor, Dr. Penny Rheingans, has been very accommodating and understanding of my situation and that is representative of the family atmosphere throughout UMBC.
How would you describe the professors in the department?
Obviously, there are well renowned faculty members throughout the department. What has impressed me is how many of them still maintain a close relationship with the students and are willing to work with them in groups and individually to help them achieve their goals.
What advice would you give to incoming graduate students?
While at UMBC, try to take advantage of as many of the resources as you can. Whether it is the faculty, the staff, the labs, or your fellow students, there are many wonderful opportunities to learn and enrich your educational and personal experience, often in ways that you do not expect. You may be surprised by how much these opportunities are diminished once you graduate.