MSU Department of Computer Science and Engineering professor wins second Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers award

July 24, 2023

It’s a rare achievement to receive a once-in-a-career award and even rarer still to receive two once-in-a-career awards, but that’s exactly what Mississippi State University’s Ed Swan did this past academic year.

Swan, a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, was awarded the Visualization and Graphics Technical Community (VGTC) Virtual Reality Service Award by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). One such award is given each year, recognizing extraordinary community service.

For Swan, the award was given in recognition of his dedication, support, and many years of service contributions to the VR/AR academic community in operational capacity and in numerous leadership roles. Currently, Swan serves as chair of the IEEE VR Steering Committee. He also recently served as a general chair of the IEEE VR conference, and as a program committee chair for both IEEE VR and the International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality.

“I was so grateful to win this award,” Swan said. “It’s really hard to believe. To win one once-in-a-career award is amazing, but to win a second, it’s really unbelievable.”

Swan's career has spanned the communities of IEEE Visualization, IEEE VR, and the IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR), all VGTC sister conferences in the broad field of computer graphics. Swan’s involvement as a conference volunteer began in 1993 as a student volunteer at IEEE Visualization. As a graduate student he became student volunteers co-chair, followed by serving as a chair for panels, mini-workshops and birds-of-a-feather, and chair for technical program scheduling for the same conference. As his research focus shifted to augmented reality, he became involved with the IEEE VR conference as a workshop co-chair and posters co-chair. His engagement continued with roles that included program co-chair for IEEE VR and IEEE ISMAR, IEEE ISMAR Steering Committee member, general co-chair for IEEE VR, IEEE VR Steering Committee member, and now chair of the IEEE VR Steering Committee.

His interest in the technical topics and goals of the VR community led to several significant service contributions to the VR domain. In 2020, together with several other colleagues, he led an effort to produce the conference proceedings in-house, which dramatically shortened the period between conference paper presentations and publicly available papers in the IEEE digital library.

As IEEE VR Steering Committee chair, he expanded an effort to make invitations for prestigious conference leadership positions more data-driven, by creating a proper database of community member activities and allowing for a semi-automated process of updating the database for subsequent conferences. As program chair and general chair, he helped develop a culture of carefully documenting the paper selection decision process and archiving that information in the IEEE digital library.

His interest in empirical methods and human-subject experimentation led to the proposal of tutorials centered on the replication crisis in empirical science and its implications for human-subject research in virtual environments. That work produced a series of tutorials on the same topic, leading to two workshops on replication in extended reality held at IEEE ISMAR.

The IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (IEEE VR) is the premier international event for presenting research results in virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (VR/AR/MR). Since 1993, IEEE VR has presented groundbreaking research and accomplishments by virtual reality pioneers: scientists, engineers, designers, and artists, paving the way for the future. In 2020, when Swan was one of the general chairs, VR was the first major IEEE conference to be held entirely online and in a virtual environment.

IEEE is the world's largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing digital technology for the benefit of humanity. IEEE and its members inspire a global community through its publications, conferences, technology standards, and professional and educational activities.

By: Camille Carskadon

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