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Bill Hammack

William S. Hammack

Department of Chemical Engineering
600 South Mathews Avenue
University of Illinois
Urbana, IL 61801
217-244-4146 fax 217-333-5052 mobile/text 217-689-1461
public key (gpg) Key fingerprint = AF6A 3D3C D196 F6E3 89A7 12AB 046B 04AA FCE7 CBCE
websites: (media work)

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Make Magazine called Bill Hammack a “brilliant science and technology documentarian[s]”, 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 Professor Hammack has focused on explaining engineering and technology to the general public -- work done in addition to his university duties as a tenured full professor. In addition to being the driving force behind the “EngineerGuy” 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.

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Academic Positions

January 2019-present | William and Janet Lycan Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
August 2006-December 2018 | Professor & Morris Scholar, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
August 2006-August 2014 | Professor (with tenure), University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
August 2005-August 2006 | Jefferson Science Fellow, U.S. Department of State
December 1997-August 2006 | Associate Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
September 1992-December 1997 | Associate Professor, Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh)
September 1988-1992 | Assistant Professor, Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh)

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Honors & Recognition

ACS/Exxon Fellowship in Solid State Chemistry, American Chemical Society, 1992
Teacher/Scholar Award, Dreyfus Foundation, 1993
Edwin F. Church Medal, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 2002
Service to Society Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 2002
Science-in-Society Award, National Association of Science Writers, 2002
Silver Reel National News & Commentaries, National Federation of Community Broadcasters, 2003
President’s Award, American Society for Engineering Education, 2003
Distinguished Literary Contribution Furthering the Public Understanding of the Profession, IEEE, 2004
James T. Grady-James H. Stack Award, American Chemical Society, 2004
Science Writing Award, American Institute of Physics, 2004
Fellow, American Institute of Physics, 2009
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2009
First Prize, Science OnLine Film Festival (inaugural prize), 2010
Carl Sagan Award for the Appreciation of Science, Council of Scientific Society Presidents, 2019

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Selected Publications/Media Work

“EngineerGuy” Videos (delivered via YouTube)

200 Public Radio Commentaries

Fatal Flight: The True Story of Britain's Last Great Airship (2017) ISBN Hardcover 978-1-945441-01-1 Paperbound 978-1-945441-03-5 eBook 978-1-945441-02-8

Michael Faraday’s The Chemical History of a Candle with Guides to the Lectures, Teaching Guides & Student Activities (with Don DeCoste)(2016) ISBN Hardcover 978-0-9838661-8-0 Paperbound 978-1-945441-00-4 eBook 978-0-9839661-9-7

Albert Michelson's Harmonic Analyzer: A Visual Tour of a Nineteenth Century Machine That Performs Fourier Analysis (with Steve Kranz and Bruce Carpenter) (2014) ISBN Hardcover 978-0-9839661-6-6 Paperbound 978-0-9839661-7-3

Eight Amazing Engineering Stories: Using the Elements to Create Extraordinary Technologies (with Patrick Ryan & Nick Ziech) (2012) ISBN Paperbound 978-0-9839661-3-5 eBook 978-0-9839661-4-2

How Engineers Create the World: The Public Radio Commentaries of Bill Hammack (2011) ISBN Paperbound 978-0-9839661-0-4 ebook 978-0-9839661-1-1

Why Engineers Should Grow a Long Tail: A Primer on Using New Media to Inform the Public and to Create the Next Generation of Innovative Engineers (2010) ISBN Paperbound 978-0-615-39555-5 ebook 978-0-9839661-2-8

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