Before launching a multi-week cruise of Russian rivers with Deanna, his wife of 44 years, Rich Sincovec floated on the good wishes and memories of faculty, staff and students from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and beyond.
The group honored his retirement in May at the June and Paul Schorr III Center for Computer Science and Engineering: the facility that Sincovec helped create while he was CSE’s department chair (2000-2008). UNL's supercomputers known as "Red" and "PrairieFire" are now housed in the Schorr Center— a renovated space under Memorial Stadium’s south wing. Sincovec remembered moving the machines in with a different kind of tunnel walk—less boisterous, perhaps, but no less exciting.
Professor Sharad Seth, with the department since 1970, observed how CSE struggled for space for its first 30 years. “Then, Rich Sincovec arrived and we made real progress,” Seth said, with improved facilities including Schorr, as well as the hiring of additional CSE faculty to occupy those spaces.
Associate Professor Dave Swanson, director of UNL’s Research Computing Facility, marveled at how Sincovec “taught me to perceive a problem as an opportunity” and speculated at his connections and possible clairvoyance in making departmental advances move from plan to reality.
Sincovec was also praised by his successor, Steve Goddard, for his mentoring abilities. “When he was department chair, he’d ask me questions that I was sure he knew the answers to,” Goddard explained, “but then I realized he was helping me prepare my thinking for the leadership role ahead of me.”
Prior to joining UNL, Sincovec directed the Computer Science Division at the University of Texas at San Antonio; led the Computer Science and Mathematics Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and was director of the Research Institute for Advanced Computer Science (RIACS) at the NASA Ames Research Center near Mountain View, California. He also held positions at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Boeing Computer Services in Seattle, Kansas State University, and Exxon Production Research in Houston.
While on faculty development leave in 2008-09, Sincovec was the Coleman-Richardson Chair of Computer Science at the U.S. Air Force Academy. His career of 43 years specialized in scientific computing, parallel computing, numerical algorithms and the application of modern software engineering and computer science concepts to scientific computing. He received his B.S. in Applied Mathematics from the University of Colorado and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Iowa State University.