Michael Sechrest, Chris King, and Greg Croft, all alumni of the Computer Science & Engineering department, have been awarded the Scientific and Technical Academy Award for SpeedTree. Their software has been used to generate trees for movies such as Avatar, The Avengers, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Iron Man 3, Maleficent, and many others.
Full press release:

Michael Sechrest

Chris King

Greg Croft
COLUMBIA, SC – SpeedTree®, the virtual vegetation software that has grown to dominate the worldwide visual effects and video game industries since its introduction in 2002, has received a Scientific and Technical Academy Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The announcement may be viewed at http://www.oscars.org/news/21-scientific-andtechnical-achievements-be-h…. A Technical Achievement Award (Academy Certificate) will be presented at a ceremony in Beverly Hills, California, on February 7, 2015, to the three developers of SpeedTree: IDV cofounders Michael Sechrest and Chris King, and Senior Software Architect Greg Croft. The Scientific and Technical awards ceremony, first held in 1931, will be followed on February 22 by the globally-televised Oscars® presentation. "The list of people who made this possible is literally in the thousands," said Mr. Sechrest. "For more than a decade, we have received support, encouragement and invaluable insights from the best artists and engineers in the visual effects and game development industries. These customers, along with the rest of the SpeedTree team, deserve tremendous credit." This isn't SpeedTree's first brush with the Oscars. SpeedTree was featured prominently in 2009's Avatar, which received nine Oscar® nominations and three Oscars. Since then, dozens more movies have added SpeedTree to their special effects, including Oscar-winning and -nominated films like The Great Gatsby and The Wolf of Wall Street, as well as blockbusters like The Avengers, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Iron Man 3, and Maleficent. "SpeedTree is one of countless technologies and innovations that have enriched the cinematic experience for more than a century," observed Mr. King. "We are incredibly humbled by the Academy's recognition of our work. We’re in amazing company." SpeedTree, the 3D tree/vegetation toolkit featured in a growing list of high-end feature films and the best video games since 2002, delivers amazingly natural real-time trees and plants for realtime projects, high-end animations and architectural fly-throughs. SpeedTree includes SpeedTree Modeler, which offers a unique hybrid of hand and procedural modeling options. SpeedTree was created by Interactive Data Visualization, Inc. (IDV), founded in 1999 to develop graphic and visualization tools for a wide variety of industries. For more information, visit www.speedtree.com. Coverage in The State Newspaper, CEC News. You can view their official press release.