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Nvidia's Sara Tariq programs video games
Sarah Tariq is an engineer in the developer technologies group at Nvidia. Her team works with computer architects, game developers and disk drive teams to ensure that the games run and look their best on Nvidia's hardware.
The work atmosphere at Nvidia is good, with flexible hours. "I usually get in around 9:30 AM, and work until 7:00 PM, which fits well with my schedule."
There has been a tremendous amount of change in the industry in the last year. Microsoft has introduced a new API for game programming, DirectX 10, and a new operating system, Vista. In addition, Nvidia has come out with a new generation of graphics processing units (GPUs). All of this change has Tariq and her team working to define techniques that take advantage of the new technologies.
"I define and implement new effects, and help game developers integrate these techniques into their new games. There is a lot of excitement to my work, but also a lot of deadlines. It's very challenging," says Tariq. She's worked on a number of interesting effects, developing algorithms to render realistic smoke, rain and skin. Her work on skin was presented last year at an international vision, modeling and visualization symposium in Germany as a paper, "Efficient estimation of spatially varying subsurface scattering parameters."
Tariq received a BS in computer science from Lahore University of Management Sciences (Lahore, Pakistan) in 2003, and an MS in computer science, with specialties in computer graphics and computer vision, from Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA) in 2005. After graduation she did an eight-month internship in Nvidia's developer technologies group, and at the end of the internship she was offered a full-time job.
Tariq is also an amateur artist, which makes her job especially satisfying. "It gives me some artistic satisfaction to know that my code creates images. It's the most rewarding kind of computer science you can do as an artist," she says. "My hobby is oil painting, and I've enjoyed painting and drawing since I was very young. But in Pakistan art isn't considered a real job." Video game programming is a very male-dominated world, but Tariq brings her own unique experience to her job. "I provide a more artistic perspective to my work. Being a woman hasn't been a problem here," she says.