Future graduate praises choice of Nye as commencement speaker

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A. Sue Weisler

Scientist, engineer, comedian, author and inventor “Bill Nye the Science Guy” will address RIT graduates during commencement on May 25. Nye visited RIT in 2008 as the keynote speaker for the Frank Horton Distinguished Speaker Series.

Stephen Giannotti is looking forward to wrapping up his academic career at RIT

by listening to the commencement keynote address delivered by his favorite scientist, Bill Nye. In fact, Giannotti has fond memories of watching “The Science Guy” on television in elementary and high-school science classes.

Nye is the keynote speaker for RIT’s 127th commencement celebration. His address comes during Academic Convocation, which begins at 3 p.m. May 25 in the Gordon Field House and Activities Center.

“My teachers would show clips of Bill Nye explaining various scientific topics such as photosynthesis, static electricity, simple machines, Newton’s Laws and more,” says Giannotti, an electrical engineering major from Fairport. “His program appealed to teachers because he covered a wide range of topics from earth science, biology, chemistry and physics; the program appealed to me and other students because of the educational and entertainment value.”

As a scientist, engineer, comedian, author and inventor, Nye has made it his mission to foster a scientifically literate society. By making science entertaining and accessible, he strives to help people understand and appreciate how science makes the world a better place. He first brought his crusade to the RIT campus in 2008 as a presenter for the Frank Horton Distinguished Speaker Series.

“I want to inspire people to change the world,” he told an RIT audience during his visit. “To me, there’s nothing more exciting and more fun than science.”

Nye’s TV show, Bill Nye the Science Guy, originally ran on public television from 1992 to 1998. Donning a lab coat and aided by flashy video effects and his offbeat brand of comedy, Nye enthusiastically demonstrated science experiments while explaining their impact to his viewers. After graduating in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University, Nye went to work in the Seattle area as an aeronautics engineer for Boeing before transitioning into a broadcasting and entertainment career.

Today, Nye contributes to a variety of news programs as an all-purpose science expert and he also serves as director of the Planetary Society, the world’s largest non-governmental space-interest organization.

Giannotti has high expectations for Nye’s commencement address and hopes that he will speak to graduates about how the current generation has the potential to make the world better, regardless of their chosen discipline.

“I also hope he injects some humor into his talk just like he did on his television show,” Giannotti adds.

In addition to Nye’s address, RIT President Bill Destler will confer degrees on more than 3,500 RIT undergraduate and graduate students during Academic Convocation. The event serves as the kickoff to the university’s two-day commencement celebration.

For more information on RIT’s 127th commencement, go to www.rit.edu/commencement.