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White Papers

Bill's white papers focus on how the engineering profession should reach out to the public. In the papers below he discusses the proper approach - a hard literacy model versus battling technological determinism; he describes the techniques to be used; and he explores the promise of using new media. He's made every paper available on line - in easily readable form - or formatted in PDF for printing.

How to reach the public

These papers focus on what engineers need to tell the public and how they should talk to the public.

How should engineers and scientists talk to the public? This paper 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. Available in pdf or formatted for on-line reading.

How should chemical scientists and engineers talk to the public? This paper, delivered to the Council for Chemical Research, expands the main points in the paper above by adding in a discussion of new media. Available in pdf or formatted for on-line reading.

Three fundamental questions to ask about scientific outreach This paper, 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.Available in pdf or formatted for on-line reading.

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. Available in pdf or formatted for on-line reading.

New Media for Engineers

These papers 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.

Growing a long tail: A tutorial on new media As the world moves from one dominated by professionally produced media to one where the amateur with a pro-sumer 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 papers are tutorials to new media - although very similar, 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. The papers are: 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 see Why Informal Science Education needs to grow a long tail (or: Joining the new media conversation) Available in pdf or formatted for on-line reading.

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! Available in pdf or formatted for on-line reading.

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. Available in pdf or formatted for on-line reading.