Undergraduate conference experience

Computer science major Pamela Melgar, A24, attended ACM SIGGRAPH 2022.
Pamela Melgar, A24, (front) with a group of student volunteers from the SIGGRAPH conference.
Pamela Melgar, A24, (front) with a group of student volunteers from the SIGGRAPH conference.

Pamela Melgar, A24, recently participated as a student volunteer in the Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques (ACM SIGGRAPH) 2022 Conference in Vancouver, Canada. SIGGRAPH is “one of the largest ACM conferences and the flagship conference of the graphics community,” says Associate Professor Remco Chang of the Tufts Department of Computer Science. Melgar, who is majoring in both computer science and in studio art, was able to attend this conference due to the generosity of the SIGGRAPH Student Volunteer Committee and the Department of Computer Science.

Melgar learned about the conference through a Handshake coffee chat with MK Haley, organized by the Tufts Career Center. Hoping to gain more guidance in amalgamating art, media, and technology, Melgar was eager to speak with Haley, a well-respected figure in themed entertainment design at Walt Disney Company. Haley informed Melgar of the SIGGRAPH student volunteer program and the opportunities it could provide.

As a student volunteer, Melgar assisted with a variety of exhibitions, from a virtual reality theater, to an electronic theater that featured back-to-back short films, and demonstrations of advancements in computer graphics, special effects, and more. She helped showcase several art pieces and innovations that synthesized multiple mediums. One such piece, titled "Glacier’s Lament", used glacier melting data to create an immersive multimedia installation including a musical piece, a dance on video, and several vials of colored water corresponding with the hues of an actual glacier.

The most impactful experience for Melgar was Pixar Animation Studios’ presentation on its recent blockbuster Turning Red (2022). Enthralled by the concept of merging technical and artistic disciplines into the cinematic space, she felt inspired by the discussion of animation techniques and challenges faced throughout the production of the film. In addition to the informative exhibitions at the conference, Melgar describes the students at the conference as “the most supportive, like-minded, and passionate students from all around the world who are yearning to break into the industry.”

The four-day conference opened Melgar’s eyes to the many more fields she hopes to explore after Tufts. She was also inspired to pioneer a new path back on the hill and start an official Tufts ACM SIGGRAPH student chapter, where she hopes to create a space for fellow Jumbos to flourish in the computer graphics field. The experience further solidified her passion for the field and “helped [her] open up in a way [she had] never experienced,” she says. In retrospect, she says, “I’m very grateful and fortunate to have had all the opportunities, most memorably the opportunity to give back to the people that had already supported my journey so much. I know this summer was just the beginning of my SIGGRAPH experience.”



Computer Science