Jen Bahan’s job description changes depending on the project. One day, she may work on creature development for flying characters in The Golden Compass. Another day, she may assist in creating fur and fat simulations for the dancing penguins in Happy Feet. No matter what her task, she knows she is where she is meant to be.
“I’ve wanted to work in animated films practically since birth,” she says. Her focused career goals led her to Purdue in the mid-1990s for the emerging computer graphics program.
Bahan has been a prolific animator and 3-D artist since she received her degree. Through 2003, she worked for companies that created video games for Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft. Since she began work at Rhythm and Hues Studios, she has been involved in five well-known movies, with increasing responsibility for each production. Her problem-solving skills and work on the first Garfield movie resulted in an academic paper for SIGGRAPH in 2004.
The nature of her company’s work, and Bahan’s recruitment efforts, has attracted other Purdue graduates. “My favorite alumni experiences are always welcoming other Purdue grads into Rhythm and Hues,” she explains.
While she works on additional movies, she also is a facilitator for the company’s leadership committee, helping employees at all levels improve their abilities and skills.
This was originally written for the Distinguished Technology Alumni Awards in 2008.