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Gregory Abowd Wins ACM SIGCHI’s ‘Lifetime Analysis Award’

Gregory D. Abowd, dean of Northeastern’s College of Engineering, has expended a vocation considering about how the growth of computing capabilities past the desktop truly assists everyday people today. 

All of that considering has now gained him the “Lifetime Exploration Award” from the Association for Computing Machinery’s Exclusive Interest Team for Computer system-Human Interaction, or SIGCHI.  

According to the organization’s site, SIGCHI is the “world’s major affiliation of experts who add toward the investigation and practice of human-laptop conversation.”

“This award is a large deal,” Abowd states. “I appear at the people today who have obtained this award in the earlier with awe. They’re folks I’ve seemed up to and the total neighborhood appears up to. To be in that organization is incredible.”

In advance of becoming a member of Northeastern in 2021 in his part as dean, Abowd was a former professor and endowed chair in the University of Interactive Computing at Ga Tech. Although there, his investigate concentrate was on “ubiquitous computing.” The phrase dates again to the 1980s, referring to the growth of computing over and above the desktop, in which it was initially confined.

“Essentially it was a transfer away from desktop computing to computing distribute throughout our environment—hence the term ‘ubiquitous,’” Abowd suggests.

Abowd’s operate concentrated on the “inventions and application” of ubiquitous computing technologies. In other text, he claims, how what was then a probable “off-the-desktop variety of computing” could be “meaningful in daily existence.”

“Dean Abowd is one particular of the world’s best students in ubiquitous computing, program engineering, and systems for autism,” claims Northeastern Provost and Senior Vice President for Tutorial Affairs David Madigan. “This life time accomplishment award from SIGCHI is a breathtaking recognition of the affect of his operate.”

Abowd’s career has zeroed in on the social impacts of the proliferation of computing—how, for case in point, it has impacted the classroom, the household and the well being care sector, amongst other locations. Certainly, his do the job in the classroom concentrated on harnessing rising systems to deliver pupils and teachers with a additional seamless augmented understanding encounter.

“I labored on a project in 1995 that, at the time, was termed ‘Classroom 2000,’” Abowd states. “We ended up seeking to increase a university classroom to be capable to permit, not only the instructors to have richer accessibility to supplies to existing in class—at that time the web was emerging and there have been digital whiteboard abilities, so we requested how could we make it possible for another person to use individuals capabilities to existing material—but extra importantly, offering a support to college students so that the space could record and acquire a meaningful multimedia record of the lecture.”

The ubiquitous computing method that emerged from the Classroom 2000 venture was subsequently adopted by Ga Tech and a handful of universities throughout the U.S. 

“I basically thought of commercializing it—probably need to have—but believed that some others were going to do it, so I went on to other investigation locations,” Abowd claims. “And that was a extremely influential challenge that demonstrated this notion of making a ‘living laboratory,’ so to converse, for the exploration of new technologies.”

Abowd would then go on to uncovered the “Aware Dwelling Investigate Initiative” in 1998, which sought to “develop the requisite technologies to make a household natural environment that can both equally understand and guide its occupants.”

No doubt, Abowd’s analysis contributions played a position in his acquiring this honor but so way too, he thinks, did his academic management.

“I assume a single of the causes I was regarded for this award is … the exploration effects I have experienced more than my job but a different quite vital piece of this is the college students I have graduated above the many years,” Abowd states. 

Abowd has mentored and graduated 35 Ph.D. pupils, 21 of whom have long gone to come to be “chairs, deans, vice provosts and endowed professors” at their respective universities.

Tanner Stening is a Northeastern Worldwide News reporter. Electronic mail him at Observe him on Twitter @tstening90.


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