Computer class to get students thinking visually

By By Lauren Mangelson

By Lauren Mangelson

Communication has become almost purely visual in today’s world through the trend of computer-mediation.

This is the message that Robert McDermott, professor in the school of computing, is trying to drive home with his new Visual Computing class, designed for non-computer science majors, debuting Spring Semester.

Visual Computing is the brainchild of McDermott, who began studying computer science and graphics years ago during his progression toward a doctorate. He now works as a staff scientist in visualization with the Center for High Performance Computing at the U.

McDermott said he believes that drawing allows artists to become “critical observers” because they must “slow things down” and turn a fine eye to detail when drawing.

“You learn how to see when you learn how to draw,” he said.

McDermott designed Visual Computing to help students develop the skill of critical observation, which many talented artists employ, and help students build visual literacy. This goes hand in hand with the computer literacy aspect of the course, which helps give a conceptual understanding of computers and their support of visuals.

Anna Thompson, a senior studying English, said she agrees with McDermott’s ideas on the importance of visual imagery.

“So much of our culture is based on advertising–it would be good to understand the psychology of those images we see on a daily basis,” she said.

Visual Computing will be taught Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11:50 a.m. to 12:40 p.m.