Commencement Distinguished Guests

Bill Nye

Bill Nye

Morning Keynote Speaker


Scientist, engineer, comedian, author and inventor Bill Nye is executive director of The Planetary Society, the world’s largest space-interest organization.


Bill Nye is executive director of The Planetary Society, the world’s largest space-interest organization. 

Nye, scientist, engineer, comedian, author and inventor, is a man with a mission: to help foster a scientifically literate society, to help people everywhere understand and appreciate the science that makes our world work. Making science entertaining and accessible is something Nye has been doing most of his life.

After graduating from Cornell with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Nye headed for Seattle and worked as an engineer at Boeing. It was there that he began to combine his love of science with his flair for comedy. Eventually, he quit his engineering day job and made the transition to a comedy writer and performer. 

This is where “Bill Nye the Science Guy®” was born. While working on the Science Guy show, Nye won seven Emmy Awards for writing, performing and producing, while the show won 18 Emmys in five years. In between creating the shows, he wrote five kids’ books about science, including his latest title, “Bill Nye’s Great Big Book of Tiny Germs.” 

Nye is the current host of three television series: “The 100 Greatest Discoveries” on the Science Channel; “The Eyes of Nye” on PBS; and his latest project, on Planet Green called “Stuff Happens,” about environmentally responsible choices that consumers can make as they go about their day and their shopping. 

Nye’s next project is “Solving for X,” where he’ll demonstrate how to do algebra. 

Nye holds two patents on educational products – a magnifier made of water and an abacus that does arithmetic like a computer.

Nye holds three honorary doctorate degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Goucher College and Johns Hopkins. He teaches at Cornell regularly as part of the Frank H.T. Rhodes Visiting Professorship.