Racing Toward The Next Big Thing

This article was created by a Technology Services student employee. Our student employees attend, engage, and report on campus events that feature technology. Students provide a unique perspective on how innovations in technology affect campus life.

By Kumaran Chanthrakumar, Computer Science '19

ACM Spring Open House
January 28th, 2016 
Siebel 1404

Okay, I’m not much of a runner (I’m a computer science major), but back in the old days, I used to jog around the track by my school.  The one thing I’d always mess up is keeping count of the number of times I’ve lapped the track, and it would be annoying because I would come in with a plan to do 15 laps, but end up forgetting what lap I was on halfway through.  I ended up convincing myself I ran 15 laps but probably only ran like 6.

Anecdote aside, some people in the University are thinking about the people here actually running on the ARC/CRCE tracks. 

Imagine a ‘smart track’ – built specifically for the ARC and CRCE - that would allow users to keep track of laps and lap-times as they run.  Maybe even change the music a person’s listening to as they increase their lap count.  I’d probably start off with something calm and slowly make my way up to hard gangster rap to help me get through those last few laps. Cash money $$$. 

This is one project being done this semester by the Special Interest Group (SIG) for Human-Computer Interaction, a smaller section of the much larger club here at Illinois called the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).  

With its own office located in the Siebel Center for Computer Science, ACM is responsible for some of the coolest tech oriented projects and events on campus, like Left4VR, a virtual reality game for the Oculus Rift.

(See pic on the left; Eric Ahn, an Illinois student and member of ACM. Photo by Abhishek Modi, the chair for the Virtual Reality Special Interest Group at ACM.)

With Special Interest Groups for all matters of technology, from Virtual Reality to Robots to Game Building, ACM at Illinois has built a reputation as the biggest branch of the worldwide organization.  On top of that, ACM helps organize events like HackIllinois, a hackathon that brings in thousands of students from colleges all over the country, and career fairs that bring in companies like Google and Facebook. 

So, you’re probably wondering why you should care if you aren’t a CS major or an engineer even.  Well, that’s the thing about ACM.  It’s geared toward people with no experience, and lessons are held by most if not all of the Special Interest Groups. Really all you need is to want to think of and make really cool things. 

How can you be a part of this awesomeness?  Well, you can fill out this form on the ACM website with little idea of exactly what you’re getting into.

Or you can go the ACM Open House today, January 28th, in Siebel 1404, where you can sign up and hear about projects like the one I mentioned above and a lot more really cool ones.  I’ll also be there to sign autographs, so there really isn’t any reason for you not to go.  Here, I’ll even give you the Facebook event page.