Associate Professor Raffaele de Amicis in his lab with graduate student Arash Shahbaz Badr. Photo by Gale Sumida.
After moving to Oregon from Italy, Raffaele de Amicis’ life changed so much that he calls it his “second life.” Interactive computer graphics had been at the center of his career for 20 years, but his goals evolved when he came to Oregon State University, where he is an associate professor of computer science in the College of Engineering.
In Italy, he concentrated on improving user experience by applying immersive technology to domains such as science and engineering. That pursuit grew out of his background in mechanical engineering and his desire to “tangibly render” his designs.
“I was extremely fascinated by computers because they enhanced my creativity,” de Amicis said.
After earning his doctorate in design and methods of industrial engineering, he spent over a decade as the managing director of a research center that develops software for scientific, educational, and industrial applications.
“I managed complex research projects for emerging technologies that required collaborating with experts in various domains across the world,” de Amicis said. “These experiences have taught me the value of cooperation with colleagues across departments, fields, and institutional and geographical boundaries.”
At Oregon State, his research has shifted to understanding the influence that virtual environments have on the human mind, in order to design a better a system for augmenting human performance. His busy lab of undergraduate and graduate students carries out this research by integrating engineering and experimental processes. His studies assess user experience with questionnaire responses and biosensing.
“The advances we are working on now will profoundly affect the future of communication, offering new, breakthrough possibilities leading to societal transformations,” he said.
Not only did his research focus change, but de Amicis’ life in Oregon is also considerably different.
“All this was not planned nor expected. My entire life had to change, so I decided to change it for the better,” he said, adding that he spends less time in an airplane and more time at home with his family.
De Amicis is enchanted by the natural beauty of Corvallis and the surrounding area, where he likes to spend time outdoors biking, hiking, and skiing with his wife and two daughters.
“My life has been very full,” de Amicis said. “Not everyone has the possibility to experience a completely new life. I’m thankful that I have this dual perspective. I’ve learned a lot.”