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Department of Chemical Engineering
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Make Magazine called Bill Hammack a “brilliant science and technology documentarian” whose “videos should be held up as models of how to present complex technical information visually.” Wired called the videos “dazzling.” In a series of stunning videos – viewed millions of times – he gives masterful explanations of the engineering underlying, for example, LCD monitors, fiber optics communications, and hard disc drives. Since 1999 Bill has focused on explaining engineering and technology to the general public, becoming the first engineering professor to be tenured and promoted to full professor for this kind of outreach work. In addition to being the driving force behind the “Engineer Guy” video series, he has written Why Engineers Need to Grow a Long Tail: A Primer on Using New Media to Inform the Public and to Create the Next Generation of Innovative Engineers to help his engineering colleagues use new media to create a literate public.
From 1999 to 2005 he broadcast weekly a public radio commentary on engineering. Distributed by Illinois Public Radio, they appeared on the public radio program Marketplace, and they appeared regularly in Australia on Robyn Williams’ Science Show produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. From August 2005 to August 2006 he served as a Diplomat at 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 Non-proliferation working to secure highly-enriched nuclear material around the world. His course, The Hidden World of Engineering, is taught every semester 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.