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Speaker to examine technology's public policy ramifications

Oct. 2, 2008

KALAMAZOO--The United States is the most technologically sophisticated society that has ever existed, but this also means it's the most technologically dependent, according to a visiting scholar who will be speaking at Western Michigan University Wednesday, Oct. 8.

"As a consequence, many of our important public policy issues have a critical technological dimension," says Dr. William Wulf, AT&T Professor of Computer Science at the University of Virginia. "Unfortunately, most citizens of the United States do not know enough science and engineering concepts to be meaningful participants in informed discussions of things like energy policy, climate change and electronic voting."

Wulf will explore the kinds of science and engineering concepts he thinks people should know during a talk on "Responsible Citizenship in a Technological Democracy" at 4:30 p.m. in Room D-109 of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences Building on WMU's Parkview Campus.

The free, public presentation is being sponsored by the national Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program with support from the Steelcase Corp. Endowed Fund for Excellence Leadership Lecture and WMU's engineering college.

Wulf focuses his research on computer architecture and computer security as well as on programming languages and optimizing compilers. In recent years, he also has been deeply involved in public policy issues and in facilitating the use of information technology to support humanistic scholarship.

From 1996 to 2007, Wulf was on leave from Virginia to serve as president of the National Academy of Engineering, or NAE, and from 1988 to 1990, he was an assistant director of the National Science Foundation. Previously, he was on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University and the founder and CEO of a computer software company.

Wulf is a fellow of NAE and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the American Philosophical Society, and a foreign member of the science and/or engineering academies of Australia, China, Japan, Romania, Russia, Spain and Venezuela. He has written three books and more than 100 papers and technical reports.

Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the nation's oldest academic honor society. It has chapters at only 276 colleges and universities--just 97 of them public institutions.

The Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program annually makes available 12 or more distinguished scholars who visit 100 colleges and universities with Phi Beta Kappa chapters. These scholars spend two days on each campus, meeting informally with students and faculty members, taking part in classroom discussions and giving a public lecture.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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