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My experience as Student Volunteer in SIGGRAPH 2005 and 2006

Originally written on February 24th, 2008.


SIGGRAPH is the premiere international computer graphics event. I had written previously in my blog about the SIGGRAPH 2007 student volunteer program, and being near the SIGGRAPH 2008 deadline for applications makes me think of writing my own experience as a member of this program.


SIGGRAPH is an event organized by the ACM computer graphics special interest group, called ACM SIGGRAPH. The best of the computer graphics academy and industry meets at SIGGRAPH.

The conference usually lasts 5 days, and it has a great variety of activities: courses for all levels, including the traditional introductory OpenGL course, to the most complicated optical effects optimized to computer execution; there are the sketches, where different people from the industry show how they did certain scenes and effects. The exhibition is one of the biggest events, with a lot of space dedicated to the stands of each company showcasing their newest products.

Where does a student fit in this conference?

Students are a fundamental part of the event logistic. The Student Volunteer program was created to ease the access of students to the conference. Dozens of students are chosen to help in simple tasks such as orienting people, check badges or watch places. In exchange of this, students have complete and free access to the whole conference.

For a student of any computer graphics-related field the conference has great value. The amount of knowledge you can get, so much you have to plan with time where you do want to go. It has value because you will meet the most valuable people you will ever meet: your own colleagues, which are also Student Volunteers. It’s the best time to meet people and exchange industry contacts.

Each SIGGRAPH edition has its own site (2006, 2007) and announces with the the conference program, which makes easier to plan.

How do you apply to the program?

To apply, you need to be a full-time student enrolled in a high school, college (undergraduate or graduate) for at least a semester in an academic year, and older than 18 years old. You can choose to work between 18 hours or 30. Those who pick 30 hours can opt to receive free housing from the conference. In my experience, the hotels they pick are really good, close to the conference center, or at least with free transportation arrangements.

You can apply to the program between January and February of each year, when they open the registration. The form consists in a series of questions with basic information, in which you must include a contact in your institution that confirms that you’re studying there. Then you must fill 3 short essays (300 words or less) where you must answer some questions related your perspectives in the computer graphics industry. Through these essays they can find out who is really interested and wants to collaborate with the conference, so it’s important to write well these answers.

In April, at most, they finish choosing the students and send the acceptation letters, and a letter to the United States embassy if you need to being the visa procedures. In case of having a visa, it’s important to carry this letter, for it’s well received by the inmigration agents.

For all the students, it’s possible to apply for a Travel Grant, which is a financial help that is given to students after they have checked out of the conference. This will cover some costs for the travel and maintenance. This money is given after the conference, in the conference center, so you must count with the money for your travel in the first place. Grants are in the range from 50$ to 400-500$, something that won’t make you rich, but will help you a lot. You apply to the Travel Grant when applying to the program, and you must fill one more question. The conference has the final answer in giving you or not what you requested.

So that’s the way to assist to one of the best computer graphics conferences in the world. It’s really a great experience, and I recommend it to all those who are interested in this industry. Good luck!