May 15th, 2017
May 15, 2017 - Though students graduate, faculty retires, and staff moves on to new jobs, we have an expression that “No one ever leaves EVL.” That’s because during its 44 year history, the faculty, staff and students of the UIC Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) are more family than fleeting acquaintances, and form lifelong friendships, stay connected through social media, attend the same conferences, and occasionally visit the EVL “mothership” and become role models for current students.
The latter happened a week ago, when two former EVL computer science students returned to campus to participate in the UIC College of Engineering (COE) Commencement on May 6, 2017. Trina Roy, now a Senior Software Developer at Pixar Animation Studios, was invited to give the COE Commencement address. Kevin Lynch, Vice President of Technology at Apple, received an honorary doctorate of engineering for his contributions to society as one of the world’s preeminent software developers and technology innovators, including leading the software development team for the Apple Watch. Lynch was the speaker at the UIC midyear undergraduate commencement in December 2015.
Roy, who received her MS in Computer Science (CS) in 1995, worked as an EVL research assistant under Tom DeFanti, EVL co-founder and UIC distinguished professor emeritus. She has worked in the film industry for many years on a number of films, many of which received Oscars, including “Shrek,” “King Kong,” “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Inception.” She credits EVL’s focus on art and science with having had a huge impact on how she learned computer graphics and how she cultivated her creative side, which in turn influenced her professional career and her personal friendships.
Lynch, who attended UIC 1984-86, was a CS undergraduate and also studied interactive computer graphics under DeFanti. In a 2013 interview, when he was CTO of Adobe, he was quoted in the Blog of Appliness, saying: “To me, creative expression is technical, and at the same time technology opens new doors to creativity. I learned this early on as I worked for a time as a member of the EVL in college. I was an engineer sitting at a workbench right next to artists using the software we developed.”
The day before Commencement, both Lynch and Roy agreed to meet with COE students, primarily undergraduates though all were welcome, for a Student Q&A that was held in EVL’s Cyber-Commons classroom. Students asked Lynch everything from tips on entrepreneurship to whether he ever met Steve Jobs - he did - and what was he like - creative and open to new ideas. Roy was asked what her favorite movie was that she worked on - she liked them all - and what she did in her spare time - photography and hiking! One student thanked her for working for Pixar and creating such enjoyable animated movies. Though Roy and Lynch had never met before, they were clearly EVL kindred spirits, giving similar responses to questions they were jointly asked, and both saying how lessons learned at EVL greatly influenced their lives and careers.
View Roy’s UIC College of Engineering Commencement Speech.
View Lynch’s Honorary Doctorate Degree Acceptance Speech.