TEACHING
ERGUN AKLEMAN
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As a person with both scientific and artistic expertise, my main aspiration has always been to successfully integrate science, art and technology in both education and research. I am a professional cartoonist who has published more than 500 cartoons, illustrations and caricatures. I am also an engineer with a strong background in applied mathematics. I earned my Ph.D. focused on Computer Graphics from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. I have worked in Computer Science departments and am currently working in the Architecture department as a faculty member. During my multidisciplinary academic and professional experiences, I have developed intuitive and rigorous knowledge in mathematics, theoretical and practical knowledge in computer science and the skills and talent of an artist. My expertise is highly consistent with the multidisciplinary nature of architecture in which aesthetics, science, technology and functionality are all essential elements.

I predominantly teach master courses in the Visualization Sciences M.Sc. program of the Architecture department. The program is designed to prepare students who are talented in both science and art for a range of long-term careers in visualization. Although our program is a relatively small, it is well-known in the special effects industry, where more than 100 of our former students are currently working in such companies as PIXAR, ILM, Dreamworks and Disney. The backgrounds of our students in the program vary significantly. Some of them come from engineering or computer science programs, while others have backgrounds in art or design.

It is both a challenge and joy to teach such a diverse group of students. My major advantage as an educator is having a diverse background that matches most students' interests. My goal as a teacher is to identify and teach fundamental concepts and skills such that our graduates, regardless of their backgrounds, can continuously adjust themselves to the rapid changes inherent in the fields of computer graphics, architecture and digital art.

I believe that I make a significant impact on the careers of many of my students. In fact, even before coming to the Visualization Sciences Program I motivated several students towards a graphics career. For instance, two of my students from Turkey are currently working in Pixar. Another student of mine is one of the four developers of the Brazil rendering system.

Because of my diverse background, I teach a wide variety of courses in the Visualization Sciences program ranging from purely technical such as Image Synthesis to purely artistic such as Visual Storytelling. Since I believe that learning can only occur by doing and exploring, regardless of the subject matter, my courses are organized around various projects that are designed to make the students confront the key issues and problems in the field. I combine a studio approach with lectures. In my art and design courses, students also learn mathematics. In my technical computer graphics courses that are usually heavy in computer science and mathematics, students also learn aesthetics aspects.

One of the important aspects of graduate level teaching is advising students. As an advisor, my main goal is helping my students to learn how to identify and solve problems. I try to teach students strategies to avoid beaten paths. I strongly encourage them to consider various solution methods. I feel fortunate that many of my students become good problem solvers and have successful careers.