Feb. 15, 2012
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab
SRU’s Dailey wows Chennai crowd
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – It was standing room only in Chennai, India, when David Dailey, Slippery Rock University professor of computer science, presented a two-day workshop earlier this month to more than 250 students from 39 universities at the Kurukshetra 2012, a major technology festival.
Dailey, a world-recognized expert in computer scalable vector graphics, or SVG, was invited last year to present at the computer festival billed as the “Battle of the Brains.”
India’s Anna University, one of the oldest technical institutes in the world, hosted the conference.
“I taught in English, and all engineering classes at Anna University are taught in English,” he said. “I opened my presentation by using SVG-generated snowflakes that through animation turned in to Tamil characters, which is the region’s native language. The students were duly impressed and seemed to enjoy the concept.”
The annual festival, organized by Anna University students, attracts more than 25,000 students from universities across India, Dailey said.
The four-day Kurukshetra is billed as an international techno-management festival is organized by Anna University’s College of Engineering. The event gives students a chance to showcase their knowledge while competing for a 1 million Indian rupee prize ($2,000). Described as “one of the best engineering schools in India,” Dailey said the students in the College of Engineering have a very strong interest in technology.
“SVG is already a growing technology in developing nations like India and China, in part, because it is a most appropriate technology for scientific geographic, social science and artistic imaging on the Web – and you don’t have to pay to use the computer scripting language.”
“We arrived at the airport in India and were met by three eager young men who took us to the guest house at Anna University. The university was originally founded by the British in the 1700s and was the first university in the country. We were very impressed by the attention to detail they paid to us as visiting scholars. They were incredibly cordial and incredibly polite. I was surprised by their interest – some wanted my autograph and others wanted to have their picture taken with me…all of which was great fun,” he said.
Dailey, author of the worldwide standards organization’s book about SVG, used his lecture time to explain scalable vector graphics and their growing place in computer graphics. He said SVG allows graphics to be scaled to any size without loss of focus or sharpness. Previous graphic systems are done in pixels, which lose definition as they are increased in size. He cites the example of a postage stamp graphic being enlarged to billboard size, saying it would be unrecognizable without SVG.
As a follow up to his SVG workshop, Dailey served as a judge for a competition that allowed attending students the opportunity to use their new knowledge in creating a use for the computer software.
“We awarded first, second and third place to the students who competed, and their work was very commendable for those who had just learned the new technology. It showed they could have fun and provide interesting applications of the new technology,” he said.
Dailey said the conference also gave him opportunities to meet other presenters, including Victor Hayes from Belgium who is known as the “Father of WiFi,” the system that allows electronic devices to exchange data wirelessly over a computer network. A Nobel laureate also presented at the conference.
“We also got to discuss what India considers a ‘brain drain’ as talented, highly qualified young people are lured to the U.S. and elsewhere by high-paying jobs in the computer industry. They said a recent study showed something like 25 percent of Microsoft’s employees come from India. In the U.S., those from India are among the highest socio-economic group because they come to the country so well prepared by their undergraduate education,” he said.
Dailey pointed out that students at Anna University are not required to take a liberal arts program, so they spend their entire four years in computer and engineering classes. “This means they are a group of young students very well-prepared for graduate specialization,” he said.
The SRU professor also spent time visiting Chennai, a city of 4 million, including tours of an ancient Hindu temple, local markets, seventh-century ruins and a newly built library called the “largest in Asia.”
“It was all pretty darn fascinating,” Dailey said.
The India trip, another in Dailey’s long list of travels related to lectures about SVG, follows visits to the Microsoft and Google-sponsored SVG Open in Paris; the HTML5 Developers and Designers Conference hosted at New York University’s Kimmel Center, New York City; the SVG Open at Google headquarters along with lectures in Boston and Santa Clara. He has also presented before the SRU Council of Trustees.
Dailey, who joined the SRU faculty in 1999, is the author of the original how-to guide “SVG Primer for Today’s Browsers” that is distributed worldwide by the Worldwide Web Consortium. He is also the author of a forthcoming book on the subject to be published by O’Reilly in conjunction with Microsoft Press. He has also been awarded SRU’s President’s Award for Scholarly and Creative Achievement for his work in SVG.
He earned his doctorate from the University of Colorado.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.