Dr. John Staudhammer 1932 – 2017

Dr. John Staudhammer 1932 – 2017

Computer Graphics pioneer, Dr. John Staudhammer has died. He was a noted American Electrical Engineer and devoted educator. He was born in 1932 in Budapest, Hungary, and his family immigrated to the USA in 1949. He was also a member of the American Association for Engineering Education.

John received his BS in Engineering from University of California at Los Angeles in 1954, followed by his MS Engineering there in 1956. He obtained his doctorate at UCLA in 1963. John’s 50 year teaching career began at UCLA as Lecturer (1954-60) in the newly established Engineering program by Dean Boelter. Among his professors were Llewellyn M. K. Boelter, Warren Hall, William Hershberger, Walter Karplus, Ellis King, T.H. (Tung Hua) Lin, Luis Pipes, Alan Rosenstein, Mike Smirnoff and Paul Wylie.

As a student he was employed as a Senior systems engineer at the System Development Corporation in Santa Monica, California from 1959-1964. He became a Professor at Arizona State University, Tempe (1964-1967). He then became Professor in electrical engineering at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina (1967-1980). He was next a Professor in electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Florida, Gainesville for a decade, and also helped start programs and collaborations with Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China during this time. His career came full circle as a Visiting Professor at UCLA (1998-2004).

In addition he served as a Technical Advisor for US Army Computer Command (1976-77), Program director in systems prototyping and fabrication for the National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia (1995-1996), Engineering Program Manager for the Army Research Office (1996-97), NSF Program Director for Design Automation (2002), NSF Program Director Graphics, Symbolic and Geometric Computations (2002-04), and was in demand as a court qualified expert throughout his career.

He was a Member of ACM SIGGRAPH and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. At IEEE he served as senior, editor-in-chief of the IEEE Computer Graphics and Application magazine from 1987-1990. He received the IEEE Distinguished Service award in 1990, was a Life Senior Member (1995) and Golden Core Member (1996).

Over his 50 year career John was an author /co-author of books, 40 published papers, and tutorials. He was the organizer and lecturer at more than 200 short courses, colloquia, ACM chapter and IEEE Section Meetings on Computer Graphics (national and international). He was also the Principal Investigator on more than 15 grants/contracts with NSF, NASA, IBM, and Harris Corporation.

John Staudhammer is especially known for the many students he fostered and helped lead to careers in the computer graphics industry. Over twenty candidates successfully completed their PhD in computer engineering, applied math, and computer graphics under his direction as well as 75 MS/MEE degree candidates.

This quote from John summarizes his philosophy towards his students:

“I was a college teacher – yeah, I worked with computers, but I grew people. My achievements were not the things I did, but the reflected glow from some of my students’ meteoric rise into the stratosphere of professional achievements. I watched them with pride and often envied their successes. I often wished I could soar with them. But I knew that I was not to rocket – I was merely a launching pad. I was not a rocketeer, just a stone cutter laying foundation stones from where to step upward. My students needed to build their own edifices. I just had to make sure we would not start on sand.”

He is survived by his two children, Anne (Nickerson) [Los Angeles] and Paul [Eugene, OR], his grandchildren, Jacob and Sara [Eugene, OR], and his siblings, Josephine Laue [Los Angeles], Karl [White Rock, NM] and Fred [Los Angeles].