Bill Nye studied mechanical engineering at Cornell and graduated with a BS in 1977, continuing as a Boeing engineer at the Seattle headquarters and later on in the 90s starting his educational television program that we all remember watching in eighth-grade chemistry class: Bill Nye the Science Guy! He aired one hundred episodes during 1993-1998. Mr. Nye frequently visits Cornell to guest lecture human ecology and astronomy classes.
The science guy has devoted himself in giving back to his alma mater. In 2011, he donated the Bill Nye Solar Noon Clock, which any student can spot near the top of the Rhodes Hall façade. The clock reflects his father’s passion for sundials and filters sunlight into a circular tube, briefly illuminating the clock face disk on a daily basis.
Mr. Nye came to campus on September 27th, 2013. He guest lectured in Professor Jamie Lloyd’s Introduction to Astronomy, Professor Charles Williamson’s Fluid Mechanics, and Professor Louge’s Combustion Processes. I had the pleasure of meeting with Professor Louge and discussing Bill Nye’s guest lecture. Mr. Nye discussed practical topics like the Venturi effect and Bernoulli’s equation, in addition to leading a PowerPoint presentation on the role of combustion in global climate change. He discussed energy theory and challenged the students to brainstorm different ways of diminishing the effects of increased global climate change on the planet, especially through increasing storage of wind and solar energy, a difficult task since those energy levels are limiting.
Although Bill Nye’s trip to Ithaca was brief, it was quite inspiring, and not only to the science and engineering students and hopefully to any other students who encountered his presence. “I thought it was incredible to see a childhood figure like Bill Nye. I grew up watching Mr. Nye in my science classes and then there he was- lecturing for MY astronomy class!” said Sebastian Perez ’16. Perhaps even Dancing with the Stars fans took delight in seeing him and his dance partner, Tyne Stecklein, come to campus.
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–Sam Newman-Plotnick, Freelance Journalist