most significant bits
newsletter of uw computer science & engineering
volume 20, number 1, spring 2010
university of washington
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 home CSE Home     Spring 2010 MSB    MSB Archive    Contact Info 
CSE makes sense   Next-gen smart grid tech   OneBusAway   Open Data Kit Chair's message News   SWARMS   A CSE reunion in Oakland   Datagrams Awards   Alumni Achievement Award   College Diamond Award Events   Accessibility capstone   Engineering Discovery Days   ACM spring barbeque   Where the jobs are   Kings screened at SIFF
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MSB is a twice yearly publication of UW CSE supported by the Industrial Affiliates Program.

Editor: Kay Beck-Benton
Contributors: Ed Lazowska, Hank Levy, Sandy Marvinney
Photo credits: Jon Froehlich, Carl Hartung, Bruce Hemingway, Ed Lazowska, Mary Levin

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Inaugural CSE Alumni Achievement Awards

Greg Andrews and Rob Short are the inaugural winners of the University of Washington Computer Science & Engineering Alumni Achievement Awards. The department honored them during its June 12th graduation ceremony and at a dinner the prior evening. Each year hence CSE will recognize two alumni with exceptional records of achievement. These awards will reaffirm to CSE graduates (past, current, and future) that each contributes to a long, successful line with impact far and wide.

Gregory Andrews
Gregory Andrews (PhD ’74)

Gregory Andrews: A bridge from the pioneers to the present

Greg Andrews arrived at UW to begin doctoral work in computer science just a few years after the program’s founding. A mathematics major at Stanford, Andrews’ first position at UW was an RA in the then-new Computer Science Laboratory (equipped with an SDS Sigma-5 computer), occasionally visited by high school students Bill Gates and Paul Allen. He did his doctoral research on computer security, working with Alan Shaw — decades ahead of the swell of interest in the topic.

Andrews learned from the pioneering first generation of computer science professors and, over his own 36-year academic career, has guided and inspired several new generations. Early this year, Andrews transitioned to professor emeritus status at the University of Arizona, where he received a career distinguished teaching award (2002) and twice served as chair of the Department of Computer Science, from 1986–93 and 2006–08.

His body of research work ranged over all aspects of parallel and distributed computing, including languages, applications, systems, and performance. In the 1990s, he developed Filaments, a software package that supports shared memory and efficient fine-grained parallelism. A long-term project has been design and implementation of SR programming language and its new variant, MPD. More recently he worked with students on the Solar software optimization project, and on a lightweight approach to writing parallel programs for multicore machines. He was instrumental in developing the computing systems for UA’s iPlant, a $50-million National Science Foundation-funded project to develop cyber infrastructure that enables the solution to grand challenge problems in the plant sciences.

Andrews authored three textbooks, is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, has served on the boards of the Computing Research Association and the Computing Community Consortium, and has served the profession in numerous other leadership roles.

Rob Short: PC architecture visionary and industry leader

Rob Short
Rob Short (MS ’87)

Rob Short’s remarkable professional journey traces to an unassuming start in his native Ireland, where he earned a two-year electronics degree from the Cork Institute of Technology. He was working as a computer systems technician at Digital Equipment Corporation when a manufacturing problem brought one of Digital’s top hardware engineers to Ireland. Short’s talent, inquisitive nature, and knowledge soon won him a transfer to DEC headquarters in Massachusetts, at that time home to the best engineering team in the computer world.

Short contributed to DEC’s next-generation computer system, the VAX-11/780, which became the standard for educational and industrial computing for more than a decade. His impressive work sparked another geographic leap to the newly created DECwest Engineering team in Bellevue, as hardware expert and principal engineer for the MicroVAX system. At a career transition point, Short decided to return to school to complete a BS degree, but CSE faculty channeled him directly into a master’s program befitting his experience. Working with Hank Levy, he earned his MS in 1987 and joined Microsoft in 1988 as part of the Windows NT team. This new system drove Microsoft and the PC industry forward. Short led a team tasked with helping the industry create computer systems to run the new software. Short also developed the first plug-and-play hardware and led the team driving industry standards such as PCI and USB. His vision, engineering ability, and management skills catapulted him in 2000 to corporate vice president for Windows Core Technology, a team developing the core components of the system including the kernel, file systems, and storage. He also focused on ensuring engineering excellence in the core components of Windows.

Short retired from Microsoft in late 2007 and now focuses on non-profit enterprises. He has travelled to Africa and Asia with Habitat for Humanity. He is a founding board member of, working to create a new model for giving. He is on the board of Eastside Preparatory School and Woodland Park Zoo. He remains a close friend and strong supporter of CSE and UW. He and his wife, Emer Dooley, also a UW alum and instructor, established the Short-Dooley Endowed Career Development Professorship in CSE, and in 2008 the College of Engineering honored Short with its Diamond Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence. Short also serves the college as a member of its Visiting Committee.

CSE alums Loren Carpenter and Tapan Parikh win 2010 College of Engineering Diamond Awards

Congratulations to Loren Carpenter and Tapan Parikh, two exceptionally creative innovators, who returned to campus on May 7 to receive 2010 College of Engineering Diamond Awards. The college bestows five awards annually for excellence in academia, industry, entrepreneurship, early career, and service. Seven CSE alumni have now been honored since the inaugural awards in 2006.

Loren Carpenter (MS ’76)

Computer graphics wizard and pioneer at Pixar
Diamond Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence

Vol Libre
Scene from Vol Libre, presented
at 1980 SIGGRAPH meeting

Loren Carpenter has exerted game-changing impact on the entire film industry. As chief scientist at Pixar Animation Studios since 1986, he and Pixar colleagues took computer animation into new realms by perfecting software for texture mapping, programmable shading, and other effects. Pixar’s RenderMan software has been used to make hundreds of films, including Jurassic Park, Titanic, The Matrix, Avatar, and Pixar’s own animated films such as Finding Nemo, Cars, and WALL-E. It is the technical heart of every Academy Award visual effects winner of the past fifteen years. Carpenter and two colleagues have their own Oscar for technical achievement, awarded in 2001 for RenderMan. Carpenter first demonstrated his technical wizardry at the 1980 SIGGRAPH meeting when he presented the world’s first fractal movie, a two-minute aerial zoom through a mountain range, accomplished by algorithms he developed to allow computer rendering of complex landscapes. At the time, he was a computer graphics expert at Boeing. This demo film, Vol Libre, won a standing ovation and landed him a position with Lucasfilm, where he applied his technology to the first full-fledged use of computer animation in a major motion picture — the famed "Genesis" scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. His digital fingerprints are now everywhere.

Carpenter and his wife, Rachel, also founded their own company, Cinematrix, focused on his patented interactive entertainment system that allows large audiences to play a variety of games together and experience another level of human-computer interaction.

Upon accepting the Diamond Award, Loren remarked that he sought a master’s degree in CSE because "I wanted to know what I didn’t know … Not a day goes by that I don’t use something I learned here at the University of Washington."

Tapan Parikh (PhD ’07)

Rock star technologist for sustainable development
Diamond Award for Early Career Excellence

Tapan Parikh working with
villagers in India.

Tapan Parikh has thrust the "teach a man to fish adage" into the digital age. He is empowering people in the world’s poorest areas by harnessing and translating technology. Since his UW graduate school days, Parikh has worked in rural Asia and Central America to address problems that hinder the open market. Working collaboratively with communities, he designs, evaluates, and deploys appropriate information systems that support sustainable economic development. In India, Parikh realized that the efforts of microfinance groups suffered from poor paper-based record keeping. He developed cell phone software that results in greater transparency and accurate record keeping. It’s a technique he also used in Guatemala, where he retrofitted cell phones so coffee growers can find the best bean prices, document their aid needs, and ensure accurate inspection of fair-trade coffee co-op members.

Diamond Award recipients
UW CSE’s Ed Lazowska with Diamond
Award recipients Tapan Parikh
and Loren Carpenter at the
Diamond Awards on May 7

Colleagues describe Parikh as a "rock star technologist" who understands the importance of linking technology to sustainable business models. He is passionate about giving poor people information and tools to boost their own creativity and power and achieve a more equitable role in society.

In 2007, MIT’s Technology Review named Parikh Humanitarian of the Year and a top innovator under the age of 35. In 2008, he was recognized as one of Esquire’s Best and Brightest. Parikh is now an assistant professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Information and holds an affiliate appointment at UW CSE. An intellectual explorer and risk-taker by nature, Parikh now inspires the next generation of students. At the awards dinner, Parikh thanked CSE faculty for mentorship and support to "become the person I am now … even if I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, there was recognition that whatever I was doing was important."

See further information — including Carpenter’s and Parikh’s acceptance remarks — on the web at:
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