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July-August 2010

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On the Job: Steve Deyo, Artist for COMET

Steve Deyo is the lead 3-D animation and illustration artist for the Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training program (COMET), a part of University Center for Academic Research (UCAR). For 15 years, he has created original illustrations and animations for COMET's training modules. Last year, they produced 53 training modules for use by thousands of people at organizations such as the NWS, NOAA, the U.S. Navy, and the Canadian Weather Service.

What kind of background and education led you to a job developing graphics for COMET?

I have been drafting all my life, and I have been drawing all my life. I went to the Denver Institute of Technology for a drafting architectural and mechanical program. I have my associate's degree in that, but then my first job was working at McDonnell Douglas training systems here in Denver, in Aurora. When I got to McDonnell Douglas, prior to coming to COMET, it was all aircraft engine schematics, and then we did some art layout for ribbon diagrams showing how they do maneuvers in the air.

Do you have training in meteorology?

It's been all on the job. It's amazing, I find myself looking at clouds differently than I did 15 to 20 years ago. To get the dynamics of something to work right or look right, you have to sit there with the subject matter experts or the meteorologists and pick their brain all the time. I'll ask them, “Well how does this build?” And then they grab their dry erase marker and go over to the board and we start sketching up things. I'm looking at some on my board right now of a thunderstorm, how it dissipates. We sit there and talk about these things for hours—about how these things work, the physics and the dynamics of an animation. It's taught me a lot. It's been a free education.

KIMBRA CUTLIP is a freelance writer and former assistant editor for Weatherwise.

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