Latest Update

The pandemic — and having two small children, the older just finished kindergartner, the younger still in diapers! — has slowed my video production, although I was able to deliver a first draft of my latest book to my publisher. In it I detail the powerful, revolutionary and, oddly, unknown engineering method that has influenced our lives intimately, deeply, and lastingly. I reveal the engineering method through human stories, perception-changing histories of invention, and accessible explanations of technology — a panorama of human creativity across millennia and continents. No publication date yet, but watch this space: I'll update when I have more information. Here's an excerpt from the book proposal. This book will have a companion video series. I had started production, in fact was in the studio filming when everything ground to a halt when we were ordered to shelter in place — my team dispersed! I have returned to the studio to do pre-production for this video series. I will review this every morning and update as appropriate.

Sagan Award

Hammack Wins Carl Sagan Award

May 5, 2019 Bill Hammack has been chosen to receive the Carl Sagan Award for the Public Appreciation of Science. The award, given annually by the Council of Scientific Society Presidents, recognizes outstanding achievement in improving the public understanding and appreciation of science. Previous recipients include Steven Pinker, Thomas Friedman, and Bill Nye. The first recipient was astronomer and science communicator Carl Sagan.

You can text or leave a message for Bill at 217-689-1461 (use WhatsApp if international) or send an email to

At this website you can watch his videos and learn about his books. You can also read his white papers on outreach, review his vita, or listen to his radio work.

Supporting EngineerGuy videos

The goal of these videos is to inspire the next generation of innovative engineers by revealing the creativity used to design engineered objects. You can support Bill's work by becoming an advanced viewer, being an evangelist, or buying a book or poster.

About Bill

Bill teaches in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Illinois in Urbana. Bill's Vita

Awards & Recognition His work has been recognized by an extraordinarily broad range of scientific, engineering, and journalistic professional societies. From journalists he has won the trifecta of the top science and engineering journalism awards: The National Association of Science Writer's Science in Society Award; the American Chemical Society's Grady-Stack Medal, and the American Institute of Physics' Science Writing Award -- all typically given to journalists. From his engineering peers he's been recognized with the Americal Society of Mechanical Engineer's Church Medal, The IEEE's Distinguished Literary Contributions Award, The American Society for Engineering Education's President's Medal, and the AIChE's Service to Society Award.

Public Radio Work From 1999 to 2005 he created hundreds of commentaries for public radio. They were produced at WILL-AM Illinois Public Media and distributed by Illinois Public Radio. In addition to playing weekly in the region, they appeared at times on public radio's Marketplace and in Australia on Robyn Williams's Science Show produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

U.S. Department of State From August 2005 to August 2006 he served in the U.S. Department of State. He worked as a science advisor at the Korean Desk, working in part on the Six-Party Talks to denuclearize North Korea, and as a member of the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation working to secure highly-enriched nuclear material around the world.

Teaching At Illinois Bill teaches the core chemical engineers classes, and in addition teaches a course called The Hidden World of Engineering. He teaches this class to a diverse mix of students majoring in commerce, architecture, photography, history, and graphic arts. This popular course gives students an appreciation for engineering and for how engineers think. It is taught in a unique way that lets the students work in teams and actually do engineering.

Bill's Books

cover fatal flight Fatal Flight

Fatal Flight: The True Story of Britain's Last Great Airship

Watch the companion video or Listen to the Free audiobook read by Bill!

Available in hardcover, paperbook & ebook

Fatal Flight brings vividly to life the year of operation of R.101, the last great British airship -- a luxury liner three and a half times the length of a 747 jet, with a spacious lounge, a dining room that seated fifty, glass-walled promenade decks, and a smoking room. The British expected R.101 to spearhead a fleet of imperial airships that would dominate the skies as British naval ships, a century earlier, had ruled the seas. The dream ended when, on its demonstration flight to India, R.101 crashed in France, tragically killing nearly all aboard. Combining meticulous research with superb storytelling, Fatal Flight guides readers from the moment the great airship emerged from its giant shed -- nearly the largest building in the British Empire -- to soar on its first flight, to its last fateful voyage.

cover Elements Eight Amazing Engineering Stories

Eight Amazing Engineering Stories: Using the Elements to Create Extraordinary Technologies

Watch the companion Video Series: One video for each chapter!

Eight Amazing Engineering Stories reveals some of the stories behind how engineers use specific elements to create the material world around us. In eight chapters, the EngineerGuy team exposes the magnificence of the innovation and engineering of digital camera imagers, tiny accelerometers, atomic clocks, enriching fissile material, batteries, anodizing metals, microwave ovens, and lasers. To help readers of all backgrounds, the book also includes introductions to the scientific principles necessary for a deeper understanding of the material presented in the chapters. The reader will be delighted by primers on waves, nuclear structure, and electronic transitions. It also features "In depth" sections on entropy, semiconductors, and the mathematics of capacitors.

cover harmonic analyzer Albert Michelson's Harmonic Analyzer

Albert Michelson's Harmonic Analyzer

Watch the companion video series that shows the analyzer in action | Download the book for free

In 128 pages filled with over 150 beautiful photos, this book reveals the secrets of Albert Michelson's harmonic analyzer. One reader told us "the minute depth of these photographs and the stunning clarity and the beauty of the images are really incredible." Another shared that "the detail in the images brings the machine to life." When immersed in the book's gorgeous photos you'll be transported to an era before silicon and logic circuits; a time when computers could only be made of polished brass, iron, wood and leather.

cover faraday Faraday's Chemical History of a Candle

Michael Faraday's The Chemical History of a Candle (with Guides to the Lectures, Teaching Guides & Student Activities)

Watch the companion video series | Download the book for free

This book introduces modern readers to Michael Faraday's great nineteenth-century lectures on The Chemical History of a Candle. This companion to the YouTube series contains supplemental material to help readers appreciate Faraday's key points: this book has an "Essential Background" section that explains in modern terms how a candle works, introductory guides for each lecture written in contemporary language, and seven student activities with teaching guides.

The Ingenious Design of the Aluminum Beverage Can

Bill details the engineering choices underlying the design of a beverage can. He explains why it is cylindrical, outlines the manufacturing steps needed to created the can, notes why the can narrows near it lid, show close ups of the double-seam that hold the lid on, and details the complex operation of the tab that opens the can.

Fiber optic cables: How they work

Bill uses a bucket of propylene glycol to show how a fiber optic cable works and how engineers send signal across oceans.

How a Microwave Oven Works

Bill details how a microwave oven heats food. He describes how the microwave vacuum tube, called a magnetron, generates radio frequencies that cause the water in food to rotate back and forth. He shows the standing wave inside the oven, and notes how you can measure the wavelength with melted cheese. He concludes by describing how a magnetron generates radio waves.

LCD Monitor Teardown

Bill takes apart an LCD monitor and shows how it works. He explains how it uses liquid crystals, thin film transistors and polarizers to display information.

Watch more of Bill's videos

Special Series

Michael Faraday's Chemical History of a Candle

In these lectures Michael Faraday's careful examination of a burning candle reveals the fundamental concepts of chemistry, while at the same time superbly demonstrating the scientific method. In this lecture Faraday focuses on the physical changes occurring in the candle, for example, how the wax moves from the candle into the flame.

Albert Michelson's Harmonic Analyzer

This series celebrates a nineteenth century mechanical computer that performed Fourier analysis by using gears, springs and levers to calculate with sines and cosines—an astonishing feat in an age before electronic computers. Check out the series companion book and learn how to get a free PDF of the entire book.

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More Books by Bill

cover harmonic analyzer How Engineers Create the World

How Engineers Create the World: The Public Radio Commentaries of Bill Hammack

In over 200 delightful short essays - over 422 pages! - Bill captures the creativity and impact of engineers. He talks of their spectacular achievements - jets, satellites, skyscrapers, and fiber optics; but draws his deepest insights from the everyday, the quotidian. He finds beauty, elegance and meaning in Ferris wheels, Tupperware, Slinkys, mood rings, waterless urinals and Velcro. Delivered originally on public radio between 1999 and 2006, each essay is a small slice of the world created by engineers. The essays also illuminate and inform about the important topics of our day by showing how intertwined engineering and technology are with terrorism, security, intellectual property and our cultural legacy.

cover long tail Why Engineers Need to Grow a Long Tail

Why Engineers Need to Grow a Long Tail: A primers on using new media to inform the public & to create the next generation of engineers

This short primer shows engineers how to think about new media by focusing on the deeper issues of communicating in this new user- generated era. Readers will grasp the mindset of new media; an under- standing that will long outlast the latest social networking tools. It will empower practicing engineers to develop new, powerful ways to help the public understand what engineers do and why engineering is important; but perhaps most importantly this primer gives engineers the foundation for reaching the next generation of innovative engineers.

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