USA Science & Engineering Festival Announces Nifty Fifty Program: Top Scientists and Engineers Will Tell Their Stories in DC-Area Schools

WASHINGTON--()--To ignite middle and high school students’ passion for science and engineering, the USA Science & Engineering Festival, hosted by Lockheed Martin, will send more than 100 top scientists and engineers into Washington, DC-area schools this March and April. The Nifty Fifty program is part of the lead up to the Festival Expo which will take place at the DC Convention Center on April 28-29.

“AT&T is committed to helping inspire and educate the next generation of innovators through a range of activities focused on STEM fields”

“We hope that by meeting scientists and engineers who love what they do, students will embrace these disciplines and consider careers in them,” said Larry Bock, Executive Director of the USA Science & Engineering Festival.

AT&T supports the Nifty Fifty (times 2), as they are called, all of whom the Festival organizers carefully chose from hundreds of applicants for their differing fields, talents, divergent backgrounds and ages. They were also selected for their ability to convey the importance of science to young audiences and to the non-science public.

"AT&T is committed to helping inspire and educate the next generation of innovators through a range of activities focused on STEM fields,” said Rob Forsyth, vice president and general manager for the greater Washington/Baltimore area. “By providing school kids with first-hand experiences with scientists, engineers and leading professionals, through activities like the Nifty Fifty program and mentoring and volunteering opportunities in the communities where we live and work, AT&T is working to demystify science and technology for kids."

The Nifty Fifty scientists and engineers include high technology entrepreneurs and financiers, policy makers, actors, journalists, educators, researchers, explorers, storm chasers, video game developers, alien hunters, astronauts and brain surgeons.

Here are some of the stories they’ll be sharing:

  • If you like Lady Gaga, do you like Elvis Presley too? Mary Fernandez and Valerie Torres, AT&T Labs researchers, will discuss how recommender systems can be used to compare the likes and dislikes of millions of people.
  • Your Adventures in 3D. Richard Boyd, of Lockheed Martin’s Virtual World Labs, will show how 3D visualization techniques are being used for everything from Hollywood movies to helping train military pilots.
  • How a migrant worker became a top brain surgeon. Alfredo Quinones Hinojosa of Johns Hopkins University will discuss his journey and work removing the most complicated and life-threatening tumors.
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. Natalie Angier, who won the Pulitzer for her lucid, fascinating science writing, tells what drives her in her journalistic career to improve science literacy through her work.
  • Hanging with a storm chaser. Josh Wurman, President of the Center for Severe Weather Research, relates first-hand what it’s like to track and study deadly tornadoes across America.
  • Inside the human genome. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), discusses the role he played in decoding the human genome.
  • Smashing atoms. Noted physicist Sylvester James Gates of the University of Pennsylvania sheds light on how atoms are smashed and the workings of particle physics.
  • Computers that won’t crash. MIT researcher Angela Belcher, a recipient of the MacArthur Genius award, shows what it means to develop powerful biodegradable electric car batteries and computers that won’t crash.
  • Going down with the Titanic. Oceanographer David Gallo, who co-led the exploration of the Titanic and the German battleship Bismark, demonstrates what life is like deep below the ocean during his undersea journeys.
  • Science role models. Hayat Sindi, born in Saudi Arabia, tells how her groundbreaking work in medical science is not only changing how developing countries diagnose disease, but also breaking down cultural barriers for other Muslim women around the world in science.
  • Repairing the Hubble. Five-time Shuttle astronaut John Mace Grunsfeld tells what it was like to service and repair the Hubble Telescope in space.
  • Challenges in Geology. Marcia McNutt shares how only months into her job as director of the U.S. Geological Survey she dealt with such major developments as the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the earthquake in Haiti.
  • Saving the humpback. Nan Daeschler Hauser, president and director of the Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation, shares her passion to save the endangered humpback whale.
  • The physics of superheroes. James Kakalios of the University of Minnesota talks about the physics behind development of unique characters for movies such as “The Watchmen” and others.
  • Building the bionic arm. Geoffrey Ling, physician and scientist specializing in brain and spinal cord injury, tells of his work in developing a bionic arm and other highly functional prosthetic limbs.
  • From AIDS to bioterrorism. Physician-scientist Anthony Fauci, as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, discusses his role serving as a key advisor to the White House on a host of health issues.

Festival organizers selected the Nifty Fifty Scientists from entries submitted by more than 100 professional science & engineering societies, including The National Academy of Engineering, AAAS, the American Chemical Society, IEEE and American Woman in Science; 100 universities and colleges such as Harvard, MIT, Princeton, University of California at Berkeley, Johns Hopkins and the U.S. Naval Academy; 50 federal agencies and laboratories including the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Department of Energy, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; 75 informal science outreach organizations including the Smithsonian Museums, the United States Botanic Gardens and the Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academies; and more than 25 corporations, many of which are Festival sponsors.

About the USA Science & Engineering Festival:

The USA Science & Engineering Festival is the country’s only national science festival, and was developed to increase public awareness of the importance of science and to encourage youth to pursue careers in science and engineering by celebrating science in much the same way as we celebrate Hollywood celebrities, professional athletes and pop stars. Lockheed Martin is again the presenting host of the USA Science & Engineering Festival and is joined by many other Festival sponsors and partners. The USA Science & Engineering Festival is a grassroots collaboration of over 500 of the United States leading science and engineering organizations. For more information on the USA Science & Engineering Festival, please visit the Festival website.


Science & Engineering Festival
Larry Bock

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Release Summary

The Nifty Fifty, sponsored by AT&T, are a group of science and engineering professionals who will fan out across the Washington, DC area in March/April to inspire students to seek careers in STEM.

USA Science & Engineering Festival