University of Rochester

$500,000 Grant Helps Spawn New Imaging Curriculum

November 9, 1998

Funding from the National Science Foundation is putting engineers and scientists at the University of Rochester at the forefront of a national movement to re-design undergraduate curriculum in imaging. The program brings together experts from a number of departments to give undergraduates a more comprehensive view of the rapidly growing field than is typically available to students.

The three-year, $500,000 grant will enable faculty members from computer science, electrical and computer engineering, and optics to provide a comprehensive, well-rounded approach to imaging education. Under the plan, five new courses will be added, nine others will be enhanced, and two additional laboratories will be created. Faculty members are also initiating a seminar series and more research opportunities for undergraduates to keep students aware of new developments in imaging science and technology.

One of the new classes, beginning in January, will bring to freshmen many of the tools that were new to graduate students and faculty members just a few years ago. The topics include the physics of color imaging, digital video and photography, computer vision and virtual reality, medical imaging, digital art and publishing, display technology, and image transmission.

Many activities in everyday life involve electronic imaging in some way. A visit to the hospital for a CT or MRI scan, a trip in an automobile equipped with a digital map system, the long wait for a snazzy Web page to squeeze into your computer, or the latest movie on digital video disk - all involve the digital manipulation of images. The field has exploded so rapidly and widely that universities are working to create a cohesive curriculum as freshmen already interested in such technologies arrive at their doorstep. University officials know of no other program that aims to teach undergraduates so broadly about electronic imaging.

"Much of modern technology focuses on imaging, and many disciplines have evolved to include some piece of the topic," says Michael Kriss, associate director of the Center for Electronic Imaging Systems (CEIS), which is coordinating the program. "This grant will help us bring together issues as diverse as computer vision, signal processing, color vision, and theories of optoelectronic systems to provide one coherent path for students interested in the field."

Other new courses will focus on medical imaging, image science, visual computing, and digital imaging technologies. New laboratories will include facilities to edit and recombine images, define and describe images, collect data from ultrasound or other types of medical scans, and handle components like sensors and lenses that make such activities possible.

The effort is also being funded by the University and by several companies that are part of CEIS.