Mechanical engineering society selects Hammack for Roe Medal


Congratulations to University of Illinois Professor Bill Hammack, who was recently chosen to receive the Ralph Coats Roe Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Bill Hammack, William H. and Janet G. Lycan Professor. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer.
Bill Hammack, William H. and Janet G. Lycan Professor. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer.

The society selected Hammack for his “pioneering use of new media to present engineering as a creative profession essential to our modern world, particularly for internet-delivered videos that highlight how engineers think, how they use science, and the role of manufacturing in design.” Hammack’s “EngineerGuy” videos and pieces for public radio have been seen or heard millions of times around the world.

The Ralph Coats Roe Medal, established in 1972, recognizes outstanding contribution toward a better public understanding and appreciation of the engineer’s worth to contemporary society. It is named after Ralph Coats Roe, a pioneer and innovator in the design and construction of highly efficient power plants and advanced desalting processes. The society will present the award to Hammack in November 2020. The award includes a $12,000 honorarium and gold medal.

Bill Hammack is a William H. and Janet G. Lycan Professor at the University of Illinois. As an engineer, his mission over the last 20 years has been to inform the public about engineering and science. His media work explaining fundamental science and its application through engineering—from his work in public radio to his use of internet-delivered video—has been listened to or viewed over 50 million times. In clear, accessible, but technically accurate language, he has excited the next generation of engineers and scientists, and aided the public in appreciating the impact of science and engineering in our society and economy.

He earned a BS in Chemical Engineering at Michigan Technological University and an MS and PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois. He taught at Carnegie Mellon for a decade before returning to Illinois in 1999 to join the faculty in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

For his work he has received numerous national awards from scientific, engineering, and journalistic societies, including, most recently, the Carl Sagan Award for the Public Appreciation of Science in 2019 from the Council of Scientific Society Presidents.