Engineer to Do Some ‘Heavy Lifting’ for the Planet

August 12, 2021

Dimitris Chachlakis

Over 500 years ago the French philosopher, René Descartes, discovered what we call the mind-body duality. In a nutshell, he exposed an ongoing philosophical conundrum, principally the challenge of identifying precisely how “the mind and body are related and how they affect one another.”

Sadly, Descartes never met Digimarc’s Dimitris Chachlakis, who seems to personify how the two realms work effortlessly together.

Dimitris recently earned his Ph.D.  while seamlessly combining fundamental theory in electrical and computer engineering—applicable for science and engineering fields that rely on data processing—while banging out one deadlift after another, as a serious enthusiast of CrossFit.

Dimitris recently joined Digimarc as a Sr. R&D Engineer and  received some publicity in June after he became the first doctoral student to graduate from the Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) new Electrical and Computer Engineering program. He will relocate this summer to Oregon, to be close to Digimarc’s company headquarters, and this will be another stop in a lifelong journey of both hard work and serendipity, taking him from Greece to upstate New York and (very soon) to the Northwest to work on HolyGrail 2.0 in support of a circular economy.

“With my training, I could certainly have pursued a career at a big company focusing on machine learning, for example. But I chose Digimarc because of its work on HolyGrail 2.0.”

Gaming in Greece

“When I was studying at Rochester,” Dimitris said, “and I told people I was from Greece, they’d often assume the town of Greece in the Rochester suburbs. I’d politely say, ‘No. Greece, the country actually’ with a smile.”

Dimitris during a long session in the gym.

Dimitris grew up in Athens, Greece, with the assumption he would one day become either a lawyer or a psychologist, but that changed when he began playing computer games at the age of five, as well as manipulating PC components, assembling and disassembling them at will. “My favorite game was ‘Command and Conquer,” he recalls. “We’re talking 1995 here.”

At the end of high school, he faced two divergent paths to pursue engineering: either enter the Greek Navy or go to a technical college. After some deliberation, he chose to attend the five-year Electronic and Computer Engineering program at the Technical University of Crete.

Serendipity Leads to the States

“I was still considering career path options while finishing up my undergrad schooling,” Dimitris said. “While I was working on my undergrad thesis, a professor suggested I consider the Ph.D. program at RIT.” This path from the university in Crete to a post-graduate program abroad had become something of a tradition at the school. Dimitris decided to trust his gut, and go for it.

Dimitris moved to New York and joined RIT and its Doctoral in Engineering Program, a program that was founded on a multidisciplinary approach for solving national and global problems. After the program grew ten-fold over a period of six years, three new doctoral programs were introduced as a replacement and evolution of the program, with an intention to rely on a novel multidisciplinary outlook at problem solving. As a result of the evolution, Dimitris found himself as a pioneer in the school’s Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering program.

Joins Recycling Team

Dimitris’ training at RIT was centered on research on fundamental theory and development of practical algorithmic solutions. He has worked extensively with multi-dimensional data models—which allows analysts to look at data beyond the more conventional two-and-three dimensions, and this proves helpful for analyzing extremely complex data sets.

“With my training, I could certainly have pursued a career at a big company focusing on machine learning, for example. But I chose Digimarc because—with its work on HolyGrail 2.0—something good can definitely come out my schooling,” he said.

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