Rhodes Hall at Night
Rhodes Hall at night

(Photo by Cornell News Service)

Prior to 1973, much of the research in computer graphics at Cornell was conducted at a GE research facility in Syracuse. Donald Greenberg and students of his would travel to Syracuse to arrive as the normal workday ended, and leave when the machines were needed again the following morning.

The Program of Computer Graphics received its first National Science Foundation grant in the fall of 1973, which enabled Dr. Greenberg to order the first computer graphics equipment. That equipment arrived in January of 1974, and the first lab was set up in Rand Hall on the Cornell Campus.

In 1991, the Program of Computer Graphics moved to the new Engineering and Theory Center Building across campus, now renamed Rhodes Hall as a tribute to Dr. Frank H.T. Rhodes, the former president of Cornell.

Also in 1991, Cornell became one of five universities participating in the new National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center for Computer Graphics and Scientific Visualization. This long-term research center was established by Don Greenberg with four distinguished academic colleagues, and he served as the director of the Center from its inception through July of 1995.

The original mission of the NSF Center, to rebuild the foundations of computer graphics, has become even more important in the nine years since the Center was established. In addition, the center has served as an experimental collaboration among the five universities, linked by full-time video, audio and data connections used for teaching, administration, and research. Our close ties to graphics labs at Brown University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Utah, and Caltech have influenced our research and broadened the exposure our graduate and undergraduate students received here at Cornell.

As a central participant in the new Faculty of Computing and Information Science, the Program of Computer Graphics is actively engaged in interdisciplinary teaching and research across the University. The graduate students based in our lab are pursuing degrees in the fields of Architecture, Computer Science, and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and our Director holds a joint appointment in Computer Science, Architecture, and the Johnson Graduate School of Management.

At the undergraduate level our portfolio of courses includes Interactive Computer Graphics in the Computer Science Department and an innovative Architectural Design Studio. Our ties to the field of architecture go back to the beginning of the lab, and we still find architectural modeling to be one of the most challenging computer graphics applications.