"Father of Computer Graphics" Honored with Washington Award

  • Ivan Sutherland, PhDWestern Society of Engineers

    Ivan Sutherland, PhDWestern Society of Engineers

Updated 2/21/2018 8:14 AM

The Western Society of Engineers is celebrating Engineers Week (February 18--24, 2018) by honoring Ivan Sutherland, PhD as the 96th recipient of the Washington Award at a celebratory dinner on Friday, February 23. The prestigious award is conferred upon an engineer whose professional accomplishments have preeminently advanced the welfare of human kind.

"I'm incredibly humbled to receive the 2018 Washington Award and thankful to the Western Society of Engineers for this recognition," said Dr. Sutherland. "The Washington Award has a tremendous pedigree and I'm honored to be among the ranks of such impressive previous award recipients as Henry Ford, Orville Wright and Neil Armstrong, among others."


Dr. Sutherland is perhaps best known for his 1963 MIT Ph.D. program, Sketchpad, an interactive computer-graphics program which earned him the moniker "the father of computer graphics." His early pioneering work on what is now known as virtual reality demonstrated that computers could produce three-dimensional effects responsive to the observer's motions.

Currently, Dr. Sutherland heads the Asynchronous Research Center at Portland State University, which he co-founded with his research partner and wife, Marly Roncken. Together they lead a small group working on self-timed VLSI (very-large-scale integration) systems.

Dr. Sutherland holds the 1988 ACM Turing Award, the 2012 Kyoto Prize and the IEEE Von Neumann Award. He is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, a member of both the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences and the author of more than 70 patents.

He received his bachelor's degree from the Carnegie Institute of Technology, his master's degree from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, and his doctoral degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, in 1963, all in electrical engineering. He holds honorary degrees from Harvard University, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Utah.

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The Washington Award, named to honor the first president of the United States, was established in 1916 by the Western Society of Engineers. It is awarded during Engineers Week, which is celebrated the week of George Washington's birthday. Founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, Engineers Week is the culmination of a year-round portfolio of student programs and competitions.

"Engineers Week is not only about celebrating those who are accomplished in the field but, perhaps more importantly, inspiring the next generation of engineers," said Christopher B. Burke, PhD, PE, D.WRE, Dist.M.ASCE and President of Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd. Dr. Burke has served as chairman of the Chicagoland Engineers Week Steering Committee for the last 12 years. "Ivan Sutherland's pioneering innovations in computer graphics are unparalleled, and we are proud to grant him the 2018 Washington Award."

Each year, during Engineers Week, presentation of the award is made at a joint banquet of the members and guests of the Western Society of Engineers; the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers; American Society of Civil Engineers; American Society of Mechanical Engineers; Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers; National Society of Professional Engineers; and the American Nuclear Society.

This year's awards dinner will be held on February 23 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL. A cocktail reception runs from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. while the dinner and awards ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m. The Western Society of Engineers would like to thank ComEd for its Platinum-level sponsorship of the event. For more information visit www.thewashintonaward.com.

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