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Bill Nye 'The Science Guy' to headline engineering open house

Justin Holder, special projects director
(217) 244-3828;


NOTE: Bill Nye will be available to meet with members of the news media beginning at 8:30 a.m. March 8 (Friday) in 312 Engineering Hall, 1308 W. Green St., Urbana.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Bill Nye, "the Science Guy," will be the featured speaker at this year's Engineering Open House at the University of Illinois. The student-run event will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 8 (Friday) and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 9 (Saturday).

The open house is one of the largest technological showcases of its kind in the nation, attracting more than 30,000 visitors each year. This year's theme – "Free Your Mind" – encourages participants to think "outside the box."

Nye, the host of an Emmy Award-winning weekly television series, will speak from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday on the Grainger Engineering Quad south of Grainger Engineering Library, 1301 W. Springfield Ave., Urbana. If the weather is inclement, Nye's presentation will be at an alternate location; to find out where, stop by the open house headquarters in the Kenney Gymnasium Annex, 1402 W. Springfield Ave., Urbana. If the alternate location is indoors, space will be limited; tickets, distributed free at the gym annex, will be required.

To learn more about the open house, visit Visitor guides containing a campus map and descriptions of the activities and exhibits will be available at the gym annex. All events are free and open to the public.

Making science entertaining and accessible is something that Nye has been doing for much of his life. Nye discovered he had a talent for tutoring in high school, and while growing up in Washington, D.C., spent his summers demystifying math and science for fellow students. When he wasn't hitting the books, he was hitting the road on his bicycle, which he spent hours taking apart and rebuilding, to "see how it worked."

Nye graduated from Cornell University with a degree in mechanical engineering. He then went to work in Seattle as an engineer for the Boeing Corp.

"I’ve always loved airplanes and flight," Nye said. "The space program was really important to me as a kid. I still have a photo of Armstrong and Aldrin on the moon in my living room."

In Seattle, Nye 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 standup comic by night.

Eventually, he combined his two interests and became known as Bill Nye the Science Guy, performing and writing on KING-TV’s late-night ensemble comedy show, "Almost Live!" (also seen on Comedy Central), appearing on The Disney Channel's "The Mickey Mouse Club" and answering science and science-related questions on local and national radio programs.

Along with his duties as head writer of "Bill Nye the Science Guy," for which he has received five daytime Emmy Awards (including best performer in a children’s series), Nye is also the author of an introductory science text titled "Bill Nye the Science Guy's Big Blast of Science" (Addison-Wesley) and "Bill Nye the Science Guy's Please Consider the Following" (Disney Press).

Nye recently was issued a patent on a collapsible, water-filled magnifying glass.