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Bob Howell Retires After 43 Years at Cal Poly

Bob Howell

When Robert (Bob) Howell (B.A., Brooks Institute, 1973; M.A., Pepperdine University, 1976) arrived at Cal Poly in 1974, there was no art major and the department was scattered among several old Quonset huts in a former baseball practice field. As a professor of photography with interests that ranged from studio art, to design, to programming, Howell was instrumental in developing the art and design program and overseeing its initial accreditation with National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Prior to coming to Cal Poly, he taught at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara. A beloved professor, Howell taught Cal Poly students from all majors. Students benefited from his teaching and mentoring in both professional and general education courses in photography. He also taught courses in the Computer Science Department at Cal Poly and at the Institute for Computer Technology in Sunnyvale. In 1975, Howell developed a campus-wide computer-assisted learning program available to all students, and in 1990 he presented his work at the International Conference on Technology in Paris.

Howell has sent projects up on the space shuttle, photographed landscapes in (almost) total darkness, compressed and expanded photographic time, worked on a vehicle that could become invisible and, long before Google began photographing the earth, designed a device that shoots exceptionally clear panoramas in spaces that are too small for photographers to enter. With a degree in motion picture production and, inspired by the transition to digital technology, Howell wrote five books on video production and motion graphics (published by Prentice Hall). His work has been displayed at the Corcoran Gallery, the Air and Space Museum, and the Smithsonian. He embodies Learn by Doing and passed this on to his students. Moreover, Howell shared his knowledge and skills in photography with other faculty at Cal Poly, who in turn educated him in the areas of physics, chemistry, electronics, metalworking, marine biology, astronomy and computer science, among other disciplines. One can rest assured that he will not remain idle after retirement.

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