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About James H. Oliver

James Oliver holds the title of University Professor at Iowa State University of Science and Technology (ISU) and serves as the Larry and Pam Pithan Professor of Mechanical Engineering. He is Director of ISU’s Virtual Reality Applications Center (VRAC) – an interdisciplinary research center focused on emerging interface technologies serving 40 faculty, 160 graduate and 120 undergraduate student researchers. Professor Oliver also directs ISU’s Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) that complements the VRAC’s research mission by providing PhD, MS, and Professional Certificate degrees in HCI, with more than 200 students currently enrolled. Professor Oliver’s research spans a wide array of emerging interface technologies, encompassing computer graphics, geometric modeling, virtual reality, and collaborative networks for applications in product development, complex system operation and training. Several Federal agencies, including the NSF, NASA, ONR, AFRL, US Army, as well as numerous industry partners have funded his research. Oliver is a Fellow of the ASME, holds three U.S. patents, and is the recipient of numerous professional honors and awards. 


Present Director, Graduate Program in Human Computer Interaction, Iowa State University
Present Director, Virtual Reality Applications Center, Iowa State University
Present Larry and Pam Pithan Professor, Iowa State University Department of Mechanical Engineering
Present University Professor, Iowa State University Department of Mechanical Engineering

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Honors and Awards

  • Appointed University Professor, Iowa State University, 2012
  • Appointed Larry and Pam Pithan Professor, College of Engineering, Iowa State University, 2009
  • Invited Visiting Professor, Image Institute, Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Arts et Métiers, ParisTech, Chalon-sur-Saône, France, May-July 2008
  • Best Paper Award, ASME 27th Computers in Engineering Conference, 2007
  • Fellow, ASME International, 2006
  • Best Paper Award, Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference, 2005
  • Outstanding Faculty Award, Iowa State University Interfraternity Council, 2005
  • Sigma Xi – Scientific Research Society, accepted nomination as full member, 2003
  • Gustus L. Larson Memorial Award, ASME International, 1999
  • Young Engineering Faculty Research Award, Iowa State University, 1996
  • Boeing A.D. Welliver Faculty Summer Fellow, 1996
  • Computer-Aided Design (Journal) Referee Award, 1993
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Young Investigator Award, 1992
  • Rockwell Excellence Award, Department of Mechanical Engineering, ISU, 1992
  • Carver Faculty Fellow, Iowa Center for Emerging Manufacturing Technology, 1991
  • SAE Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award, 1990
  • DuPont Fellow, Michigan State University, 1979-1980
  • Graduated Magna Cum Laude, Union College, 1979
  • Tau Beta Pi - National Engineering Honor Society, 1978
  • Dean’s List, Union College, 1977-1979


  • ME625: Surface Modeling (developed as a new course)
  • ME/WLC 484/584: Technology, Globalization and Culture
  • ME557: Computer Graphics and Geometric Modeling (developed as a new course)
  • ME415: Mechanical Systems Design
  • ME310: Mechanisms
  • ME270: Introduction to Mechanical Engineering Design
  • HCI592X: Entrepreneurship Workshop

Contact Information

1620 Howe Hall
537 Bissell Road
Ames, IA 50011
Phone: 515-294-2649
Fax: 515-294-5530


Peer-Reviewed Articles (21)

Proceedings & Presentations (34)