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April 6 , 2000
  Vol. 29, No. 18

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By Kevin Fitzsimons

Charles Csuri, professor emeritus of art at Ohio State, with the 2000 Governor's Award for the Arts for the best individual artist.


Gov. Taft recognizes OSU's Csuri as the state's best individual artist

Ohio State's pioneer in computer animation has received the state of Ohio's highest recognition for an individual artist.

Gov. Bob Taft on March 22 presented Charles Csuri, professor emeritus of art at Ohio State, with the 2000 Governor's Award for the Arts for the best individual artist.

Known worldwide as the father of computer art, Csuri also is a pioneer in animation and scientific visualization; the founder of the interdisciplinary studio model for technology and visual art; and a proponent and creator of aesthetic excellence. His contributions to excellence, artistic growth and dissemination of new art forms have deep roots that begin within the fine arts tradition and extend to the movie and animation industry.

Csuri received both his B.F.A and M.A. degrees from Ohio State. He became a faculty member in the Department of Art in 1953 and was an established painter and sculptor when he began to create art on the computer in 1964 -- long before technology was recognized as a medium for artistic expression.

Csuri worked collaboratively with computer scientists, engineers, artists and educators, and found support for his work from sources such as the Navy and Air Force Office of Scientific Research. He was the first artist to be funded by the National Science Foundation, in 1969, and continued to receive funding over the next 20 years.

His effective leadership and extensive artistic experience enabled him and his cross-disciplinary team to establish the Computer Graphics Research Group, now the Advanced Computing Center for Art and Design (ACCAD) in the Ohio State College of the Arts; and Cranston/Csuri Productions, one of the first and most influential computer-generated special effects production facilities in the world.

ACCAD works with a variety of institutions and corporations, and educates students in special effects and animation for the film and entertainment industry.

Recognition of Csuri's pioneering work began in 1967 with the prize for animation at the Fourth International Experimental Film Festival in Brussels, Belgium. His work is owned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and many other museums, corporations and individuals. His ground-breaking accomplishments are included in The History of Computer Graphics, a film that premiered at the 1999 international SIGGRAPH conference.

A professor emeritus of art education and computer and information science, Csuri, 76, continues to make art and to push the boundaries of emerging technologies.



ATI professor motivates students with puzzles, problem-solving skills

By Frances Whited

It's two minutes into class on the first day of the quarter, and Allen Zimmerman is already shaking things up.

The 40-some students signed up for the class have filed into the chairs behind neat rows of tables. It's the first and last time they'll be sitting that way.

Zimmerman quickly has the students count off into groups, push the orderly rows apart and gather around tables."Open your course packet to page two," Zimmerman says, directing students' attention to a puzzle: Figure out in what order you would pass six Chinese restaurants (Hunan 7, Master Wok, Hunan Wok, Hunan Village, Fu's Wok and Hunan Garden) as you walk north on 7th Avenue in Brooklyn, using such clues as,"The two farthest north on 7th Avenue have no words in common."

Allen Zimmerman


After a few seconds of perplexed silence, the groups set to work in earnest. Three minutes pass."Do you have it solved yet?" Zimmerman demands.

Five minutes pass."Have you thought about using manipulatives?" he asks. The room is filled with the sound of tearing paper as students write the restaurant names on scraps and begin to push them around on the table.

When the puzzle is finally solved, Zimmerman gets students talking about how they went about it. As the first session of class progresses, students will also write their first journal entry on a problem they solved recently, work on more puzzles and explain the process they used to find the solution, and determine which group will teach the next session of class.

This isn't the philosophy department's"Introduction to Logic." It's "Problem Solving Using Systems Approaches," the capstone course for students working on Associate of Applied Science degrees in engineering technologies, like construction or fluid power, at the Ohio State Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster.

Zimmerman, associate professor of engineering technologies, developed the course because of the emphasis he places on helping students develop creative and critical thinking skills."Technical education is higher education," Zimmerman says,"and these skills are at the heart of higher education."

The course is just one example of an approach to teaching that earned him two national teaching awards this year. He is the first Ohio State faculty member to win either, much less both.

Zimmerman was honored in February as one of 10 Outstanding First-Year Student Advocates. The award, given by the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition at the University of South Carolina, recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the educational experience of first-year students. The winners were selected from a group of 183 nominees.

In March, Zimmerman was honored as Outstanding Technical Teacher by the American Technical Education Association. The award is given annually to one postsecondary technical director whose performance and contributions are exceptional.

Zimmerman has been deeply involved in ATI's orientation course since he joined the faculty in 1987. Called upon to help revise the orientation course, Zimmerman developed and taught a pilot course that emphasized student success, diversity, and career issues.

In addition to teaching a section of the orientation course each year, Zimmerman also serves as a mentor to other faculty and staff who teach the course and assists in training new faculty and staff who will be course facilitators. Zimmerman also proposed developing a Human Dignity Code of Conduct to give first-year students an appreciation and understanding of the social, ethical and legal implications of diversity issues.

Last year, Zimmerman taught not only the problem-solving course and a section of the orientation course, but also courses in residential mechanical systems, technical math and technical physics. He pursued a vigorous scholarly agenda, with presentations at education and engineering conferences, publications in refereed educational journals as well as a trade publication, and numerous other activities, including maintaining industry contacts that help him stay current in the technical aspects of his subject areas.

Zimmerman says that as a teacher in a technical college, he always strives to balance the cognitive with the manipulative."What I teach reinforces what surveys say about the skills and abilities that many employees lack," he says."Typical graduates have appropriate technical skills. The problem is with insufficient interpersonal skills, communication, problem solving."

It's an approach that students may not fully appreciate until after they're out in the work force."Many of my former students say the longer they've been employed, the more they value what they learned in the problem-solving class. They see the need for this unusual course."

Whited is public relations coordinator for ATI





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