Advanced class

The computer science graduate class I taught this semester was officially called “Advanced Computer Graphics”. But actually it was something different.

There were nine students in the class, and we had no exams. I just asked them to do a midterm project and a final project. For each project they were required to produce a written paper, a video and a live demo.

The first project was really just for practice, to loosen them up and build their confidence. By the time they started working on their final project, they were all in the groove.

In class we would discuss the larger implications of changing technology, graphics to create alternate realities, surveillance via machine learning, the potential for good or ill of wearable headsets. I played for them short videos of visions for the future, both utopian and dystopian, and a few in between.

Mostly we did a deep dive into trying to understand what it means to be a technologist right now. To be a person capable of evolving what is possible with computers in a world where societal norms seem to be changing with each new paradigm shift in the social network.

This evening they all demonstrated their final projects, and they were brilliant. It’s amazing what enthusiastic young minds can create when you just give them permission to follow their bliss.

Afterward, we all hung out in the VR lab and played with little plastic dinosaurs. Which somehow seemed exactly right.

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