Movie stars covet Academy Awards(reg), but few can claim one. Tom Williams has two on his shelf, one for "Scientific and Engineering," and another for "Technical Achievement." And if this fails to impress you, he also has more than 20 film credits, including: Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, The Mask, Forrest Gump, Jumanji, and Twister. Williams spent seven years at Industrial Light & Magic as a computer graphics supervisor, director of research and development, and executive in charge of digital effects. In this capacity, he supervised the development of breakthrough technology that resulted in the film effects that not only won him the Academy Awards, but would have been impossible to create using more traditional special effects. Just think about those dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. Engineers who have viewed any of the above movies can appreciate this engineering feet. Williams now heads long-range product development and research at Silicon Graphics' Alias/Wavefront subsidiary.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.