When computer science grad student Enrique Rosales was eight years of age and living in Mexico, he dreamed of one thing and one thing only: earning a PhD.
“I wanted to be like Carl Sagan,” Enrique said. “Also, I just really liked how ‘PhD’ sounded. At that age, it was more the label I admired than understanding what it entailed. But I knew enough to know you had to be smart to get it.”
Fast-forward to 2016. Enrique was invited by the University of British Columbia (UBC) computer science department to acquire his doctorate. “I was giddy with excitement!” he said. Enrique’s long-standing goal was finally within reach. Getting there had been circuitous, but was also full of higher education and robust industry experience across several decades.
Enrique’s academic journey had barely begun when he attained a Technical Diploma in Computer Science and Management from Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara (UAG) in 1999. From there, he went on to attain a Bachelor of Arts degree in Industrial Design, an Innovation Management Diploma, Paleontological Sciences Diploma, and later in 2013, his Master’s Degree in Computer Science at the Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM).
Before earning his Master’s Degree, Enrique spent time working at Universidad Panamericana. His various endeavours there included: co-founder of the UP Media Lab; researcher; director of the Digital Animation Engineering program; head of the computing department; and performing various teaching roles.
He also spent 7-8 years finding, developing and working at several product design companies, and as a result, gained invaluable hands-on computer graphics experience.
“It was through learning and using 3DS Studio Max software at my company that I gained experience in, and a passion for, computer graphics and virtual representations.” said Enrique. “After being in industry and completing my Master’s Degree, it seemed like a natural continuation to then pursue the PhD I had long dreamed of.”
An introduction to UBC
While completing his Master’s in Mexico, Enrique was invited to Quebec City, Canada, to do a research project at Laval University. Computer Science grad students attending UBC were also invited out to participate in talks. One specific student was instrumental in Enrique’s decision to eventually apply for grad studies at UBC.
“I was very engaged with his talk. He promoted the fact that UBC Computer Science is one of the top CS programs in Canada,” said Enrique. “In 2011 when the opportunity came to attend the ACM SIGGRAPH [Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics] conference being held in Vancouver, I jumped.”
UBC gave Enrique and his wife the opportunity to stay on campus and they fell in love with it and Vancouver.
Enrique continued to attend SIGGRAPH conferences and in 2015, he watched as UBC CS Professor Alla Sheffer presented five papers in a row.
“I was so impressed with the volume Alla had presented! Five papers at once.” he said.
When he applied in 2016 to UBC Computer Science for his doctorate, he indicated his preference to work under Alla’s supervision. After a Skype interview with Dr. Sheffer and other necessary formalities, Enrique finally received word that he had been accepted. “I couldn’t believe it!” Enrique remembered. “It was so life-changing, that moment for me. The one thing I had been dreaming about since I was eight years old was finally within reach.”
The dream becomes reality
Now in the home stretch: his final year (and expecting to graduate in August 2021), Enrique has accomplished much. He has had six papers published, been a TA, and he was recently the sessional lecturer for the department's computer graphics course, replacing a professor on sabbatical.
Enrique’s research employs a mix of his unique combination of skills: experience as an artist in 3D modelling, software instruction, skills in fabrication and molding as an industrial designer. “It’s really more art than math to me,” Enrique explained. With Enrique’s dream about to come true, it will perhaps be time for him to create another.
More about Enrique’s busy life, education, experience and accomplishments