Bill Nye “The Science Guy”
To help celebrate the opening of its new, 92,000-square-foot Science Center, SUNY Fredonia will welcome world-renowned scientist, engineer, comedian, author and inventor Bill Nye “The Science Guy” to campus this fall. He will appear Thursday, Sept. 18, at 3:30 p.m. in King Concert Hall as the keynote speaker for the campus’ annual Convocation Series.
The 2014-15 series theme, “The Joy of Discovery,” will highlight the many instances across Fredonia’s academic disciplines and throughout our lives where discovery plays a critical role. Discovery can occur at a personal, societal or even global level, representing creativity that results in the finding or learning of something for the first time.
“We are extremely excited to bring someone of Bill Nye’s stature to campus to help usher in such an exciting new era on this campus,” said Fredonia Public Relations Director Mike Barone. “For years, Fredonia has been producing outstanding science alumni, and this fall we will open a new facility that will even better prepare Fredonia’s future graduates.”
Bill Nye’s stated mission is to foster a scientifically literate society — to help people understand and appreciate the science that makes our world work. Making science entertaining and accessible is something he has been doing most of his life. He grew up in Washington, D.C., but moved to Seattle, Wash., to work for Boeing after earning a Mechanical Engineering degree from Cornell University.
It was in Seattle that Bill began to combine his love of science with his flair for comedy, when he won a Steve Martin look-alike contest and developed dual careers as an engineer by day and a stand-up comic by night.
“I’ve never met Mr. Martin, but I’d love to. He created this tension during which the audience had to choose to laugh. So, the laughs were deep and real, like you had to be there- but you were,” says Nye.
Eventually, Bill quit his engineering job and made the transition to a night job as a comedy writer and performer on Seattle’s home-grown ensemble comedy show, “Almost Live.” That is when “Bill Nye the Science Guy®” was born. The show appeared before Saturday Night Live and later on Comedy Central, originating at KING-TV, Seattle’s NBC affiliate. While working on the Science Guy show, Nye won seven national Emmy Awards for writing, performing and producing. The show won 18 Emmys in five years. In between creating the shows, he wrote five kids’ books about science, including his latest title, “Bill Nye’s Great Big Book of Tiny Germs.”
Nye is currently the host of three TV series: “The 100 Greatest Discoveries” airing on the Science Channel; “Eyes of the Nye” airing on PBS; and his most current project, “Stuff Happens,” which airs on Planet Green and focuses on environmentally responsible consumer choices. Stuff Happens also features a good-natured rivalry with his neighbor, actor Ed Begley, Jr. They compete to see who can save the most energy and produce the smallest carbon footprint. Bill has 4,000 watts of solar power and a solar-boosted hot water system. There’s also a low-water-use garden and underground watering system. It’s fun for him; he’s an engineer with an energy conservation hobby.
Nye is also currently the executive director of The Planetary Society, the world’s large space interest organization.
In addition to his Cornell degree, he also holds three Honorary Doctorate degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Goucher College and Johns Hopkins University. Nye visits Cornell regularly as a professor, part of Cornell’s Frank H.T. Rhodes Visiting Professorship. In part as a tribute to his parents and their strong belief in the value of education, Bill has designed and funded a clock to be installed on Cornell’s Rhodes Hall.
America’s favorite stand-up scientist hasn’t changed much from that kid growing up in Washington, D.C. He still rides his bike to work. He’ll pull out his Periodic Table of the Elements or his Map of Human Skin Tone from his wallet or show them to you on his phone display.
“It will be an honor to welcome Bill Nye to our campus during such a pivotal time in our university’s history,” added Barone, who also serves on the campus’ Convocation Committee. “We continue to broaden and diversify Fredonia’s strengths, and redefine the way people think about this university. His appearance will underscore that evolution and mark a terrific opportunity for our students to learn and be inspired.”
Funding for Fredonia’s annual Convocation Keynote Address is provided by the Maytum Lecture Endowment and the Williams Visiting Professorship Endowment through the Fredonia College Foundation. As such and in keeping with Fredonia’s Convocation tradition, Nye’s appearance will be free and open to the public, although tickets will be required. The tickets will become available at the start of the Fall 2014 semester, which begins Aug. 25.
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