Time to return!

Wow it’s been 10 months since my last post. Why did I even return here?

But to share my adventures during my absence of course!

Hint: Don’t imagine chasing sharks or parachuting from Mt. Everest. This will be just a post describing briefly these 10 months. More like a personal (self-reflecting but not exaggerated) memo. Go away! Shoo, shoo!

So let’s start and for our usual:

Hello people!

I hope you are doing well.

These past months have been a real rollercoaster since I entered a Masters program in Digital Media and while I was at it, I took part in a real-time modelling competition. From here on you will just read about some of what I was doing, hoping to justify my disappearance…! Let’s begin.

First Semester

Like I didn’t have enough alongside with my everyday job as a Software Engineer, I was honored with a scholarship in my first Semester and I got to teach the whole lab of an undergraduate class in “Basic Programmic Principles” (the lab consisted of 40 students every hour with a total of 5 groups). A second benefit for the honor was to, also, be Teaching Assistant for another undergraduate class “Signals and Systems”.

My first Semester was fully booked and I didn’t have time to practice 3D modelling except for the modelling competition that took place in October.

Someone may ask: how did you manage all these?

To answer your question, we first need to specify what “these” are.

  1. Everyday job with meetings that required European travelling;
  2. October 2017: Modelling competition;
  3. Master’s classes attendance;
  4. Master’s classes assignments;
  5. Undergraduate programming class teaching every week;
  6. Undergraduate signal processing monthly class assignments review and mark;
  7. Undergraduate signal processing weekly class assignments review and mark.

And now the answer:
I don’t really know… I just pulled it off and got a mean of ~9. (Two 10s, a 8.5 and a 6.5) 😀

Kidding aside, the only thing that you should do in order to manage whatever situation you are in is: remember where you started and why you are doing all of these. If these two thoughts are strong, then they can motivate you for life.

  • Remember where you started in order to be able to see the progress you made and reflect. There can be times that you struggle and struggle and still not seem enough. If you stand still for a minute and look back, you will see all your effort, sweat and tears; the choices you made to be there. One minute is enough.
  • Remember why you are doing all of these in order to see the meaning behind the countless hours you spend. I don’t know what else to say about this. We human tend to think a lot and the not-so-innocent thought that usually comes to mind is “what am I doing here?”. You need to answer this question. This answer is what will keep you moving forward.

Enough with motivation psychology… οn to the second Semester!

This is where things got most interesting for me. (How can they be more given that first semester??)

At the first Semester we had a graphics class which served as an introduction to Computational Geometry with space segmentation, object transformation etc. At the second Semester we have a follow-up class with more advanced concepts on Computational Geometry and techinques to speed up the rendering process. I was having chills in every lesson for the whole duration because I was learning how everything, which I was using in Blender, works! From subsdivision surface to raycasting!

It’s truly inspiring to learn how things work “under the hood” because it gives you such in-depth knowledge that skyrockets your use of the tools.

By the time the second Semester started, I enrolled in a course “Non-linear optimization methods”. I knew what I was going to learn but I didn’t expect the tremendous quality of the Professor. I immediately thought that I have to blend the optimization course with graphics. After a week of searching through the web I found it:

Nonlinear Optimization of Vehicle Safety Structures

How to improve the safety of vehicle structures by expressing it as an optimization problem. The user sets the data and the only thing that stands as a barrier is his imagination (and the processing power he has, of course).

Yeah yeah alright, this is not so related to graphics, but displaying the results in an intuitive way is! Keep reading.

As I was reading the book, I felt so attracted to the subject that I was thinking about it even while working! But there was one problem: it required as previous knowledge a way to solve those complex systems and that is Finite Element Method.
Sadly, I was not taught about it in my first degree of Computer Science since it is considered an Engineering course. That didn’t get me down though; I found an online course at Coursera that teaches FEM for elasticity and heat conduction problems and it has programming assignments. In just two months, I managed to receive a certification with a 100% mark, all while having to deal with the bullets 1, 3 and 4 (list from the previous Semester). Effectively, I had 5 classes to attend; but, required knowledge: check!

In one week I have my final exams and then I will have just my thesis. I am thinking of continuing on the path of FEM and graphics but I want to clear my head first from the more immediate exam responsibilities.

The thought of “why I do all these” is now settled to: I want to make this world a safer place.

How can I contribute to that given my background and knowledge in software engineering? As a first step: join a company that creates this sort of simulation software and contribute to it’s quality all while diving deeper into this engineering area.

And as a next step? I am not really a spoiler guy, so just wait and you’ll read about it someday.

Aaaaand that’s it for my returning post. I had a lot of “Ilias things” that don’t concern modelling but I always like reading about the development of others; what problems they faced and what action they took. Someone might find this one interesting…!

My next post will be 120% modelling and will contain details about the scene I created for my competition entry.

Until then, be well and stay active!

Spoiler: The scene in Sketchfab.

Post featured image from Wikipedia.