On June 2, 2011, NASA Explorer schools held a live video chat with Zareh Gorjian for a look at NASA's computer graphics area.
Gorjian specializes in computer graphics. He implemented all of the Quick View wireframe and high-performance renderers for NASA's Surveyor mission, as well as the display interface used for displaying images. He worked on Surveyor full time until September 1993 and has continued to contribute on a part-time basis while working on other projects. He currently is involved in designing and implementing third-generation animation and rendering software for the Digital Image Animation Lab at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He was most recently a part of the team, which produced animations for the IMAX movie "Destiny In Space."
Gorjian was born in Tehran, Iran, and moved to the United States in 1979. He grew up in Glendale, Calif., and went to the local junior high and high school in Glendale. The movie "Star Wars" was a major event in his life. Gorjian became interested in special effects and graphics after seeing that movie and playing with video games. He convinced his parents to get him a personal computer in 1980 and started making simple games on it. One of the most important subjects to study in school to be good in computer graphics is mathematics. Gorjian was lucky to have had excellent mathematics teachers when he was in school.
Before working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Gorjian worked at a software development company where he was a part of the team that developed a piano teaching system for a computer gaming platform. He developed the graphics for an artificial intelligence system designed to help people learn to play the piano.
In addition to his academic and professional involvement with computer graphics, Gorjian engages in the artistic pursuit of the subject in his spare time. When Gorjian is not transforming polygons, he is transforming coins and other objects as a magician. He's been doing magic since he was 8 years old. His specialty is close-up magic. Another of Gorjian's hobbies is stereo photography (3-D photography). He has been using 3-D stereo cameras for over 10 years now and enjoys teaching others how to make 3-D pictures.
Gorjian received a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science in 1989 from California State University, Northridge, where his area of concentration was computer graphics. While there, he, along with others, started the Video Graphics Lab. He completed his master's degree in computer science with special emphasis in computer graphics from the University of Southern California in December 1994.