Science & Technology Festival

First, choose your class period

Then take a look at our presentations below

Note, however, that enrollment ended on Feb 04, 2021.

2020 Sci-Tech Fest Keynote

Keynote Speakers John Carmack and Palmer Luckey discuss how modern technology, and that being imagined for tomorrow, impacts our daily lives and can improve the future of many in the coming years. From virtual reality and artificial intelligence to video games, aerospace, and more, these industry veterans give us a glimpse into our advancing world, and what we can expect in the near future.


SpeakerJohn Carmack/ Palmer Luckey

John Carmack: Co-Founder of ID Software, Founder of Armadillo Aerospace, Consulting CTO of Oculus. Palmer Luckey: Co-Founder of Oculus, Co-Founder of Anduril

John Carmack:Co-Founder of ID Software, Founder of Armadillo Aerospace, Consulting CTO of Oculus. Palmer Luckey: Co-Founder of Oculus, Co-Founder of Anduril

Bailin’ wire and a Pair of Pliers

What could bailing wire and a pair of pliers have to do with you and this conference?

What do they have to do with Space Exploration?


SpeakerMatt Leonard

Matt has over 23 years of experience in the space industry, through his contacts. Mr. Leonard earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from Texas A&M University in 1987. He has held successively more responsible positions, including Simplified Air For EVA Rescue (SAFER) project manager, ISS Launch Package Manager for Assembly mission 6A, Mission Manager for Station and Shuttle Processing for ISS missions 12A and 13A at the Kennedy Space Center. Mr. Leonard led the Human Adaptation Countermeasures Office Project Management Office, where he received his Project Management Professionals Certification. Mr. Leonard led the Program Review Integration Office for the Constellation Program, which successfully completed the program’s first program wide System Requirements Review. Mr. Leonard served as Deputy Manager, Lunar Surface Systems Project Office, Constellation Program The Lunar Surface Systems Project was responsible for establishing the Lunar Outpost, maintaining NASA’s pre-eminence in space, by leading the development of a sustained human presence on the Lunar surface. Mr. Leonard served as a lecturer for the ESET Program, teaching a Product Development class and as the NASA Liaison to Texas A&M Look College of Engineering (LCOE). Mr. Leonard increased the collaboration between the LCOE and NASA/JSC by identifying mutually beneficial projects and drafting a Space Act Agreement for both parties.

President & CEO TSTAR (Texas Space Technology Applications and Research)

Building Interactive Experiences Through the Years: From PC to Console to Mobile to VR and Beyond

As we move rapidly into the future it's worth looking back to see how technology evolution has impacted the development of interactive experiences. During my 20 plus years as a developer I've noticed that while we've made great leaps forward in computer and graphics processing, the fundamentals of gameplay, storytelling, and the development process itself still follow the same rules. I'll give historical context for various insights that I hope will be both informative and entertaining.


SpeakerMatthew Hooper

*Matt Hooper has been creating award winning interactive entertainment for over 20 years.
*As lead designer and creative director, he's shipped dozens of software titles representing tens of millions of copies sold across a wide spectrum of platforms, from mobile to PC to the many consoles.
*In the past 6 plus years he's helped Oculus bring a new level of immersion to the world through VR.
*While spending most of his career on gaming, his focus is broadening into areas including enterprise use cases and future of work through AR/VR.

Program Manager Oculus

Building Organs: One Gene, One Cell at a Time

We will address how organs and blood vessels are made, all the way from the genetic code to developing embryos.


SpeakerOndine Cleaver, PhD

  • Professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, for the last 15 years
  • Postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University
  • BS, Molecular Biology - The University of Texas at Austin

Professor UT Southwestern Medical Center

Engineering and Energy

We use oil and gas products every day, from heating our homes to driving our cars to using our cell phones or just about anything plastic. Oil and gas exists all around the world but requires innovation and technology to be able to get it out of the ground and into the hands of consumers. Interested in learning more about this exciting and ever evolving industry? Have you heard of petroleum engineering and thought it sounded interested, but have no clue what we actually do and what it takes to do it? Come listen!


SpeakerAudrey Burks

*Grew up in Dallas and graduated from Highland Park High School in 2008 *Bachelors degree in Petroleum Engineering from Texas A&M *Petroleum Engineer at Pioneer Natural Resources for 8.5 years in various roles such as production engineer, reservoir engineer, completions engineer and business analyst

Petroleum Engineer Pioneer Natural Resources

Engineering as a Career Choice

I will describe enginering as a profession and as a basic career building block. Engineers are at the forefront of the technologies of tomorrow. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers thinks these are clean energy, pressure technology, bioengineering, manufacturing, and robotics. I will describe these and discuss the different engineering disciplines you can pick as a career choice.


SpeakerJoe Fowler

*BS, MS, PhD Mechanical Engineering Texas A&M University *Co Founder, President 1984-2016 Stress Engineering Services. Multi discipline consulting firm with 400+ employees *Distinguished Alumni Texas A&M College of Engineering *Board of Governors American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) 100,000+ Members *Former Chair of Board Offshore Technology Conference - 50,000-100,000 attendees run by 12 professional societies

Co Founder Stress Engineering Services Inc

Let's Build a Particle Accelerator

Particle accelerators, which can hurl small bits of matter up to speeds close to that of light, are able to reproduce energy conditions much like those found near the beginning of time when the universe came into existence. How does a particle accelerator work, and why do we need them? Let's learn how to build one and find out!


SpeakerSteve Sekula, PhD

  • PhD in Physics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004.
  • B.S. in Physics, Yale University, 1998.
  • In 2008-2009, led the team that discovered the lowest-energy state of a bound pair of particles called "bottom quarks"; predicted to exist in 1997, unobserved until 2008-2009.
  • In 2012-2020, measurement of the properties of the recently discovered "Higgs particle," which provides fundamental mass in nature.
  • Co-author (with literal rocket scientist Frank Blitzer and theoretical physicist S. James Gates, Jr.) of the book "Reality in the Shadows (or) What the Heck's the Higgs?", an introduction to the sweeping extent of modern particle and astrophysics. This book is for those with a passion for scientific discovery.

Associate Professor of Physics SMU

LIVE: Baby birth: from concept idea to reality

Thousands of women cannot carry their own pregnancy because they are born without a uterus or have lost it to disease. Until 6 years ago, the only options for these women were adoptions and surrogacy. Now the combination of transplant and infertility medicine gives these women the possibility of having their own children.


SpeakerGiuliano Testa, MD, MBA

Dr. Giuliano Testa is a graduate of the University of Padova Medical School in Italy. He completed General Surgery Residencies both at the University of Padova and at the University of Chicago and then a fellowship in Abdominal Organ Transplantation at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. In 1998 Dr. Testa moved to Germany to the University of Essen where he significantly contributed to start the Adult-to-Adult Living Donor Liver Transplant Program. In 2001, he was recruited with the title of Associate Professor of Surgery and Director of the Liver Transplant Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In 2005, he moved to the University of Chicago as Director of Liver Transplant and Hepatobiliary Surgery and rose to the rank of Professor of Surgery. In 2008, Dr. Testa completed the Fellowship in Clinical Ethics at the MacLean Center for Clinical Ethics of the University of Chicago and joined the Faculty to become the Associate Director of the Surgical Ethics Program. In 2011 he obtained a Master’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Dr. Testa was recruited by Baylor University Medical Center in July 2011 to lead the Living Donor Liver Program. In 2017 he was promoted to Division Chief and in 2019 Chairman of the Simmons Transplant Institute. Dr. Testa is actively involved in the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, where he currently is a member of the Living Donation Committee, in the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) where is currently serving on the Ethics Committee as well as on the Ethics Committee at Baylor University Medical Center. Dr Testa is Board Member of the American Society of Reconstructive Transplantation and Founding Member of the International Society of Uterus Transplantation and the United States Uterus Transplant Consortium. Dr. Testa is author or co-author of more than 170 manuscripts and several book chapters. He is a recognized authority in the field of Living Donor Liver Transplantation, Living Donor Intestinal Transplantation and Uterus Transplantation.

Chief of Abdominal Transplant at Baylor University Medical Center Baylor University Medical Center

New Advances in Surgery using the da Vinci Robotic System

New advances in robotic technology have allowed surgeons to perform, and patients to undergo difficult procedures in a minimally invasive way. Students will have an opportunity for a hands on experience with the da Vinci Surgical Robot.



SpeakerRichard Salter, MD

  • Attended Abilene Christian University, graduated 1983
  • Attended Texas Tech University Medical School, graduated 1988
  • Internship and Residency at University of Kentucky, completed 1992
  • Specialized practice in Ob-Gyn in Dallas for 25years, started Advanced Ob-Gyn Associaites in 2008
  • Main interest is in minimally invasive and advanced gynecologic surgery, utilizing the da Vinci surgical robotic system.

MD, Ob-Gyn Advanced Ob-Gyn Associates

No Bones About It

An overview of the swimming mechanics of live squid and how that is important for mechanical engineering.


SpeakerPaul Krueger, PhD

  • B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (1997) from the University of California at Berkeley
  • M.S. and Ph.D. in Aeronautics (1998 and 2001, respectively), both from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
  • Joined the Mechanical Engineering Department at Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX) in 2002; is currently a Professor and department chair
  • Recipient of the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (2004), and the Ford Senior Research Fellowship from SMU (2012)
  • Research interests include unsteady hydrodynamics and aerodynamics, vortex dynamics, bio-fluid mechanics, bio-morphic propulsion, fluid-boundary and fluid-particle interactions, and fluid processes in additive manufacturing

Mechanical Engineering Professor and Chair SMU

Open Innovation at NASA: Harnessing the Power of the Crowd to Solve Hard Problems and Adapt to Rapid Changes in Technology

This talk will describe NASA’s use of crowdsourcing to tap into new innovations and how NASA is adapting to new ways of accessing skills and talent as technology advances at a relentless pace. The talk will also include methods and approaches for accessing the innovations and expertise that are necessary for anyone who hopes to be successful in the emerging future of work.


SpeakerSteve Rader

Steve currently serves as the Deputy Director of NASA’s Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI), which is working to infuse challenge and crowdsourcing innovation approaches at NASA and across the federal government. CoECI focuses on the study and use of curated, crowdsourcing communities that utilize prize and challenge-based methods to deliver innovative solutions for NASA and the US government.

  • Steve has a Mechanical Engineering degree from Rice University
  • He has worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center for 30 years:
  • worked in mission control;
  • flight software development for the Space Shuttle and International Space Station;
  • command and control systems development for the X-38;
  • led the Command, Control, Communications, & Information C3I) architecture definition for the Constellation Program.

In 2015, Steve was named as one of 20 Challenge Mentors for U.S. Government Services Administration’s (GSA) Prizes and Challenges government-wide community of practice. Steve has worked with various projects and organizations to develop and execute over 100 different challenges. He speaks regularly about NASA’s work in crowd-based challenges and the future of work both publicly and internally to the NASA workforce to promote the use of open innovation tools.


Pain research, the opioid epidemic and pursuing research as a career

Pain is one of the most common medical problems and also one of the most difficult to treat. I will discuss how research into non-opioid pain medicines can transform how we think about treating pain and reduce the burden of the opioid epidemic.


SpeakerTheodore Price, PhD

*BS in Neuroscience from UTD *PhD in Pharmacology from UTHSCSA Medical School *Postdoctoral Fellowship in Neuroscience and Pain at McGill University, Montreal, Canada *Eugene McDermott Professor at University of Texas at Dallas and Director of Center for Advanced Pain Studies *Co-Founder of 3 Biotech companies: CerSci Therapeutics, Ted's Brain Science Products and 4E Therapeutics

Professor University of Texas at Dallas

Rewiring the Brain

The vagus nerve connects most of the human body’s major organs with the brain and plays a major role in controlling the response of the brain to external stimulation. Research at the University of Texas at Dallas and Zyvex Lab’s spin-off company Teliatry has shown that a Neuromodulation Implant can effectively rewire the brain to deal with a number of maladies including stroke, spinal cord injuries, Post Traumatic Stress Disease, and possibly other conditions. John Randall CEO of Zyvex Labs, and Executive VP at Teliatry, will explain the way that Targeted Plasticity Therapy, using innovative implants made by Teliatry, can be used to not merely treat the symptoms of neurological problems, but to actually rewire the brain to cure the problems.


SpeakerJohn Randall, Ph. D.

John N. Randall, CEO of Zyvex Labs, Executive VP of Teliatry, Adjunct Professor at UT Dallas, and Fellow of the AVS, IEEE, and Micro Nano Engineering Society.

  • I am a card carrying Nano-Nerd with a PhD from the University of Houston, 39 years of Industrial experience in Micro- and Nano- Fabrication., making really small things, and 33 US patents
  • I have worked for MIT's Lincoln Laboratory (4 years), Texas Instruments (15 years with 2 years in Belgium), and Zyvex as CTO, VP, and Pres (18 years)
  • I joined Zyvex Labs in March of 2001, and have a plot to rule the world with Atom by Atom Manufacturing and is working to heal the blind (Human Trials in 2020)
  • I have 115 articles published in refereed journals, more than 50 conference proceedings and other publications with > 4300 citations and 32 issued US Patents with > 900 citations.
  • I am addicted to computer programming, robotics, and playing Alto Sax
  • I love my wife and kids

President and CEO Zyvex Labs

The Physician-Scientist

Medicine is undergoing a sea of change at many levels: changes in healthcare delivery, economics, biology and technology. Whereas these myriad changes we face can be daunting at first, there has never been a more exciting time to make the world a better place through science and medicine!


SpeakerJoseph Hill, MD, PhD

  • Cardiologist-scientist whose research focuses on molecular mechanisms of remodeling in the stressed myocardium.
  • Graduated with an MD, PhD from Duke University
  • Pursued postdoctoral scientific training at the Institut Pasteur in Paris
  • Clinical training in Internal Medicine and Cardiology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School.
  • Faculty of the University of Iowa for 5 years
  • Chief of Cardiology and Director of the Harry S. Moss Heart Center, UT Southwestern Medical Center since 2002
  • Research focuses on deciphering mechanisms of structural, functional, and electrical remodeling in heart disease with an eye toward therapeutic intervention.
  • Editor-in-Chief of the #1 cardiovascular journal Circulation
  • Active clinical practice focusing on general cardiology, hypertension, and heart failure.

Professor of Medicine and Molecular Biology, Chief of Cardiology UT Southwestern Medical Center

The Rapid Rise of Customer Success

Customer Success is a rapidly growing profession in the field of as-a-Service technologies. We'll explore what this is, and how it's evolving the way technology companies interact with their customers. We will also look at some of the innovative technologies driving change in the world today.


SpeakerSpencer Knapp

  • Spencer leads a team of Customer Success Managers that work with a variety of IBM Cloud customers in their ongoing journey
  • For the last 10 years, Spencer has helped large corporations understand how and why to adopt cloud services. He coordinates with multiple teams to ensure that his customers are successful in their use of IBM Cloud.
  • He also has led projects to better equip his extended team for success, such as building out an education program for a team of 100+ people worldwide.
  • Spencer holds a BA in Biology from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He would be happy to talk about how he used his liberal arts education to move into technology!

IBM Cloud Customer Success Leader, North & Latin America IBM

Full Presentations

Defense Against the Darkweb

Who wants your data? What will they do to get it? Who is protecting it? Here is your chance to chat with two professionals from a major data bureau about hackers, exploits, data and Defense Against the Dark Web.


SpeakerJohn Marino

John Marino (co-presenter)

*Experienced information security analyst with 5 years of work experience at a large credit bureau. *Specializes in initial triage and remediation of cyber threats targeting the financial industry *Holds a variety of certifications from CompTIA and SANS Institute *Started my career in information security at Best Buy working as a Geek Squad agent

Senior Threat Detection Analyst Experian

GAMERS: A Documentary

Filmed and released in 1999, this documentary by Katherine Kang is a historic look at video games, 3D graphics, and the Internet - new mediums at the time. GAMERS takes a look at the culture, technology, and future of video games as seen in 1999 and gives us a glimpse into how the industry developed into the behemoth that it is today. Traveling the country interviewing industry legends, developers, publishers, gaming press, and cyber athletes, Katherine Kang writes and directs from the perspective of a gamer herself.


SpeakerKatherine Anna Kang

Video Games Developer, Film Maker, and Entrepreneur

Video Games Developer, Film Maker, and Entrepreneur

The ER, Poisons and Crime Scenes--Stories from the "Front Line" of Medicine

This presentation will include stories and pictures from the ER at Parkland--our nation's busiest emergency department and medicine's "front line." Then learn how my journey in emergency medicine led me to study medical toxicology at the North Texas Poison Center and how I then developed a forensic toxicology practice testifying in Federal drug crime cases involving the opioid epidemic and in murder mysteries. NOTE: VIDEO MAY CONTAIN GRAPHIC IMAGES OF REAL SURGERY AND INTERNAL ORGANS THAT SOME VIEWERS MAY FIND DISTURBING


SpeakerStacey Hail, MD

Stacey L. Hail, MD, FACMT is an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Medical Toxicology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. She currently serves as attending physician in the Parkland Hospital Emergency Department and the North Texas Poison Center. Dr. Hail received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at Southern Methodist University in 1995. After receiving her Medical Degree at the Medical College of Georgia in 1999, she completed both her emergency medicine residency and medical toxicology fellowship at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas.

Dr. Hail has a prolific forensic toxicology practice serving as an expert witness for attorneys throughout the United States. She has testified multiple times as a witness for the Department of Justice involving federal drug crimes due to the national opioid epidemic. Dr. Hail also has provided toxicology commentary for local and national news venues and for documentaries on the National Geographic channel, the BBC, and the Oxygen channel.

Parkland ER Doctor & Medical Toxicologist North Texas Poison Center