Stephen McDowell  ::  About

Where I come from, and why I do what I do.

Where I come from

Born and raised in San Diego, California, I grew up with a lot of sun and a deep appreciation for water. My parents and three older sisters have been very supportive; I’m quite fortunate to have happened upon these people. San Diego was an excellent place to grow up: endless hours of playing bass and guitar, hockey and baseball, biking in the canyon, and just enjoying the best Mexican food this side of the border. An excellent place to grow up.

To the surprise of most, I love winter (especially the snow). It may be that I’m still a toddler in snow-years, but I would argue that after four winters in Ithaca, NY, and one in North Lake Tahoe, CA (snowboarding by day, working the evening shift on the mountain by night), it doesn’t seem likely this will change any time soon.

Where I am now

Computer Science requires a certain balance of patience and belligerence, and a good sense of humor. It’s a conquest to unveil the pattern, break it, reinvent and redefine it — then put it back together, just to realize it was the same sequence you solved three months prior. But I couldn’t love it any more.

I realized pretty early that my talents for the creative were largely confined within my head. That is — if I were I to paint you a picture, you wouldn’t even want to hang it on your fridge. Working in Computer Graphics affords me the opportunity solve fascinating problems, giving me the tools to produce better results than a lustrum of fine arts training.

When I’m not working on research or coursework, I prefer to be teaching. Indoors and out, I meet a lot of brilliant people and learn just as much from them as they do from me. Teaching is a gateway for me, allowing me to have dynamic interactions with both the material and the students. It solidifies my understanding while enabling me to share my knowledge and experience with an interested faculty. At the root of it, teaching permits me to be where I most want to be: talking with interesting people about interesting things.

When I’m not talking to my computer

You’ll find me outside. Walking around, snowboarding, kayaking, or reading a strange book or two. Lets face it, with a walk to work like this, I basically live in the Shire. The mountains, more than anywhere, are where I’m happiest. More than a hundred years ago, John Muir said it best: “going to the mountains is going home” — Our National Parks, (1901).