Photos: Luke Fisher, Noe Montes

Many Lives of Engineers

“Believe it or not, (J.R.R.) Tolkien had a lot to say about information technology and its impact on the world. Many of his villains justify their actions as bringing order to a chaotic world — Saruman says his goals are ‘Knowledge. Rule. Order.’ That sounds suspiciously like the mission statements of several prominent tech companies. I try to be mindful of the perils, as well as the potential, of Big Data. Paradoxically, I recently gave a presentation at the annual Mythmoot Conference describing a statistical analysis of The Hobbit.”

— David Kale, USC Viterbi Ph.D. student in computer science; co-host, Tolkien podcasts, “Riddles in the Dark” and “The Silmarillion Film Project”

“Basketball is about teamwork, strategy, focus and communication. It takes all of these ingredients to do cutting-edge engineering research.”

— Ellis Meng, chair, USC Viterbi Department of Biomedical Engineering; Caltech women’s basketball record-holder, most blocks in a game (7), 1998

“My interest in sailing and my research in carbon fiber composites go hand in hand. Many high-performance sailboats such as the America’s Cup catamarans are made entirely out of composite materials. Knowing that my research can improve the future of competitive sailing motivates me to engineer the next generation of materials that are stronger, tougher and lighter.”

— Jonathan Lo, USC Viterbi Ph.D. candidate, Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

“My real-world experiences as a pilot and aerospace engineer give me a specifically unique perspective when designing unmanned air vehicles and systems for airplanes. The really great part is being able to truly appreciate airplanes and aircraft engine designs not only for their historic and aesthetic value, but also as a clear manifestation of functional art.”

— Joseph Bok, B.S. AE ’85, M.S. '99; CEO, Aero Telemetry, Inc.