If you're looking for a major that expresses your artistic side, you might want to try Engineering before heading into the art studio.

Computer Graphics at the University of Pennsylvania - a subset of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences' Computer Science department - is the umbrella for all programs in computer graphics at Penn, from high school to Ph.D. students.

In an effort to keep up with recent technology, the University is finalizing plans to renovate the first floor of the Moore building , home to the computer-graphics offices.

These plans include completely rebuilding the Human Modeling and Simulation Lab space, creating a work space with a "light ceiling" that reflects the sky outside and adding displays of student work.

"We chew up images at a rate that we never have before in the history of man," said Amy Calhoun, associate director of the Digital Media Design program .

She added that thirty years ago computer graphics didn't even exist - now, it's indispensable.

Enrollment in computer graphics is growing as more and more students are becoming interested in this "integration between art and engineering," said Engineering sophomore Brynn Shepherd, a Digital Media Design major.

This year, DMD is about 50 percent female, a somewhat surprising fact considering that computer science is typically a male-dominated field.

In addition, Computer Graphics program Ph.D. student Chris Czyzewicz said that, at the lab he works in, the ratio of men to women is about equal.

Penn's computer graphics program is also differentiated from those of its competitors', since every level and class of students in CG@Penn work together to create better solutions to


Freshmen might work with Ph.D. students on NASA projects, while sophomores have the chance to be the first author in a paper.

"The collaboration of all levels leads to better projects and better research," Calhoun said.

There are about 110 students total in the program and, surprisingly, only two full-time faculty members: DMD Director and Faculty Advisor Norman Badler and Computer Science professor Alla Safonova .

"It's one of the few Engineering majors that has so much room for creativity," Shepherd said. "The integration of technology and art is fascinating."

Czyzewicz added, "These students have no lack of motivation or skill. They're the people who go on to work for Disney and Pixar."

Should someone decide not to major in DMD, any freshman course is transferable to any other major in Penn.

Calhoun said that the program is set up this way because more than a third of incoming DMD students have no background in Computer Science and are just really interested in the field.

She added she loves that students are intrigued, but if they don't pursue the program, that's okay also.

"Computer graphics is the enabler that lets students go into any field they want," said Badler. "Sometimes that's computer science, and sometimes it's not."

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