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Speeches & Other Writings

Bill's speeches focus on the engineering method and how the engineering profession should reach out to the public. In the speeches dealing with the latter below he the proper approach: hard literacy model versus battling technological determinism, the techniques to be used -- and he explores in speeches from the first few years of the twenty-first century (!) the promise of using new media. While some of the examples are dated, the core principles still apply.

Hoover Medal Speech In his remarks on accepting the 2020 Hoover Medal Bill gave a speech entitled "Reclaiming Engineering in the Minds of the Public: The Unheralded, Underappreciated, & Misunderstood Method that Built Our Modern World." Naively the public assumes the products of engineers arise from the scientific method, but, as this speech outlines the power of engineers to change the world lies in their method, a method used long before sophisticated mathematics and computers. This talk speech the veil to show, in all its glory, the engineering method, which, once understood, highlights the creativity of engineers, demonstrates their work is the pinnacle of human reasoning, and lays a foundation about how to think about technology — how to decide its proper use and aid it in fulfilling its promise.

How should engineers and scientists talk to the public? This speech makes three points: a) The engineering profession should aim for awareness, rather than hard core literacy; b) Their message should be delivered as a story; and c) practicing engineers and scientists must learn to use mass media to effectively deliver messages.

How should chemical scientists and engineers talk to the public? This speech, delivered to the Council for Chemical Research, expands the main points in the paper above by adding in a discussion of new media.

Three fundamental questions to ask about scientific outreach This speech, delivered as a keynote to an NSF Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education Program, examines the proper way to reach out and describes briefly how to use new media.

How to make our ideas clear When asked for the book that would help a scientist or engineer to communicate with the public better, Bill always recommends Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. It has nothing to do with science, but it has everything to do with communicating. He recommends you buy the book, but has posted here a four page summary he wrote of its main ideas.

Tutorials on new media These speeches focus on how the engineering profession should take take advantage of the revolution in producing and distributing video and audio to educate the public about our profession. The tools of the trade are now available to anyone at a minimal cost: as the world moves from one dominated by professionally produced media to one where the amateur with a "prosumer" camera becomes king, the engineering profession needs to learn to use these "new" media - user-generated video, social networking, and web 2.0. These two speeches are very similar, but one is aimed at universities and the other written for informal science educators. It covers: what we mean by Web 2.0, the fundamental principles of using new media, and why new media isn't just old media delivered in a different way. For Universities: Why the University of Illinois needs to grow a long tail (or: Joining the new media conversation) Available in pdf or formatted for on-line reading. For informal science educators: Informal Science Education needs to grow a long tail (or: Joining the new media conversation).

Why the research community needs to join the YouTube Generation This was a lunch talk for a AAAS/NSF Workshop Communicating Science October 23, 2008. It covers the new media ground as above, but briefly and from a slightly different angle. It focuses a bit more on why a Principal Investigator might want to let his students go wild with video cameras.

Why Universities needs to join the YouTube Generation This paper, given as a dinner speech at the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Alumni Symposium (May 2, 2009), introduces "The Illinois Media Engine (TIME)" - which has been proposed by a group of IT professionals at Illinois. The paper describes why academics need to develop their own YouTube - one that uses, for example, proper indexing as developed by Library science, has transcripts, and true archival properties. Also available in pdf.

Newfound respect for the performing arts Bill reports on his voice lessons, contrasting how we train those in the arts and those in engineering.