Science Festival

First, choose your class period

Then take a look at our presentations below

Note, however, that enrollment ended on Jan 27, 2020.

Civil Engineering and Beyond

Grayson will be discussing the basics of civil engineering, what it means, and what it takes to become a civil engineer. Additionally, Grayson will discuss what it takes to be successful as a civil engineer, and opportunities which can be capitalized in the industry. Grayson will also discuss career trajectory and show many examples of different kinds of projects available in the industry.


SpeakerGrayson Hughes, PE

  • Grayson was born & raised in Highland Park, went to Texas A&M University to study Civil Engineering
  • Grayson has been practicing Civil Engineering in the North Texas market for over a decade
  • Grayson has worked starting from the bottom as an entry level designer to managing an office for a national engineering firm
  • Grayson works in the private land development industry, developing new projects all over Texas and outside in other states
  • Grayson was highly involved in band during HS, played trumpet and was the senior Drum Major of the band.

Civil Engineer WGI

Digital Fabrication at the Atomic Scale

Digital information technology changed your world; digital fabrication at the atomic scale will change it again. I will explain how and why you should consider being an engineer.


SpeakerJohn Randall, Ph. D.

  • I am a card carrying Nano-Nerd with a PhD from the University of Houston, 38 years of Industrial experience making really small things, and 31 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)
  • Zyvex Labs has a plot to rule the world with Atom by Atom Manufacturing and is working to heal the blind (Human Trials in 2020)
  • I am addicted to computer programming, robotics, and playing Alto Sax
  • I love my wife and kids

President Zyvex Labs

The value of STEM training for arts and humanities careers

This presentation explores the multiple ways knowing how to THINK like a scientist/mathematician is of benefit to artists (focusing on filmmakers) and arts scholars.


SpeakerMark Kerins, PhD

  • As a senior in high school, on the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad team
  • Undergraduate degrees in chemistry and mathematics (Valparaiso University)
  • Masters and Doctoral degrees in film (Northwestern University)
  • Currently a professor at SMU, where I teach filmmaking, make my own films, and write about film

Film Professor SMU

What is a Blockchain, and Why Should I Care?

Blockchain is everywhere these days, yet few people understand it. This presentation explains the technology and separates fact from fiction.


SpeakerYale Vinson

  • BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University
  • Started career in defense, developing weapons systems
  • Worked in Cryptography and Fintech for the last 20 years
  • Currently Head of Innovation with MoneyGram
  • Current areas of interest include Blockchain and DLT, Artificial Intelligence and Biometrics

Global Head of Innovation and Blockchain Moneygram

Full Presentations

Artificial Intelligence, the Law, and You

This presentation will cover some recent developments regarding artificial intelligence (AI) and the law. It will also explain what future opportunities AI presents for students.


SpeakerKeith Robinson, JD

*Professor Robinson teaches and writes in the areas of property, intellectual property, patent law and technology law.

  • Thomson Reuters has twice recognized Professor Robinson’s articles on patent infringement, originally published in the American University Law Review and the Texas Intellectual Property Law Journal, as the best in intellectual property law. He has written and lectured on patent lawsuit avoidance, the patenting of business methods, divided infringement and patent challenges facing emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence.

  • Professor Robinson practiced law at Foley and Lardner LLP as a member of the electronics practice group in Washington, D.C. He assisted clients in various areas of patent law including counseling through negotiations, opinions, prosecution and strategic IP issues including evaluating emerging technology.

  • Before practicing law, Professor Robinson was a technology consultant for Ernst & Young LLP and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young LLC.

  • Professor Robinson is a graduate of Duke University School of Law (J.D., cum laude, 2004). He holds a degree in electrical engineering from the Duke University Pratt School of Engineering (B.S. 1999).

Associate Professor of Law, Co-Director of the Tsai Center for Law, Science, and Innovation SMU Dedman School of Law

Defense Against the Dark Web

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


SpeakerJohn Marino

John Marino (co-presenter)

*Experienced information security analyst with 4 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

Threat Detection Team Lead Experian

Developing New Pain Medicines to Tackle the Opioid Epidemic

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

Guyanese Perceptions of Wild Cats and Implications for Conflict

In these talks I will provide an overview of the themes that drive people's perceptions of wild cats - jaguars, pumas, ocelots - in Guyana and what these mean for the survivability of these species in Guyana. I will situate my talk in my personal experience and upbringing in Guyana; I will also provide how my perceptions of wild cats today compared to when I was growing up in Guyana and how that is influencing my plans to protect wildlife.


SpeakerAnthony Cummings, Ph.D.

  • A geographer with interests in human-natural environment interactions and human-wildlife conflict
  • Work seeks to understand how changes in the natural environment and climate systems impact the potential for food availability for indigenous peoples and the animals with which they are associated
  • Utilizes Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing tools (drones) to study land-use and land-cover change with swidden agriculture landscapes
  • Developing a potential for conflict index between humans and wild cats in his native Guyana

Geospatial Information Sciences Professor University of Texas at Dallas

Honey Money!!

Honey bee business. Bee removal. Pollination. Honey sales.


SpeakerMichael Leidner

Owner - South Texas Apiaries LLC

Middle and High Scool Science Teacher

Physics, Chemistry, Biology, AP Biology, 6th & 7th grade

Mud Engineer - Halliburton

B.S. Range and Wildlife Management - Texas A&M University Kingsville

M.Ed. Education Adminsitration - University of Texas at Arlington

Owner South Texas Apiaries LLC

Opportunities in Petroleum Engineering & Unconventional Oil and Gas Exploration

Opportunities in petroleum engineering & an overview of how unconventional oil and gas exploration works in the U.S.


SpeakerTom Elsener

Matador Resources from 2013 to Current - Incorporate all oil and gas disciplines (geology, reservoir, completions, land, legal, regulatory, accounting, midstream, exploration, A&D, etc) into comprehensive oil and gas development plans in a public company traded on the NYSE.

EnCana Oil & Gas from 2007 to 2013 - Various onshore unconventional oil and gas engineering including Reservoir, Completions, Drilling, Exploration and Business Development

Rowan - Offshore roustabout summer of 2005

Texas A&M - BS Petroleum Engineering in 2007

Highland Park High School in 2003

SVP - Reservoir Engineering & Senior Asset Manager Matador Resources

Product Development in Food & Beverages: A Food Scientist's View.

Considering a career at a Fortune 50 company? Come learn how science helps drive retail through a product development perspective.


SpeakerJonathan Licker, PhD

  • Works for Walmart at the global Home Office in Bentonville, Arkansas developing frozen food for Walmart Private Brand across categories including Fruit, Smoothies, Juices, Single & Multi-serve meals, Ice Cream and Novelties.

  • Earned a PhD from Cornell University in Food Science & Flavor Chemistry.

  • Served on Cornell University advisory council since 2003-2018. Provides guidance for the food science department’s students, faculty, programs, and curriculum. .

  • Worked for PepsiCo in Research & Development in Plano, Texas for 19 years developing snacks for Frito-Lay and other global brands such as Lays, Doritos, Cheetos and Sunchips..

Senior Manager, Product Development. Private Brands Walmart

Robotic Surgery

Discuss applications of robotics in surgery, history of robotic surgery and future of robotics in surgery and medicine.


SpeakerDaniel Davis, DO, FACS, FASMBS

Dr Daniel Davis is Chief of Bariatric Surgery for Baylor University Medical Center and Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery for Texas A & M College of Medicine. Dr Davis is on the general surgery faculty at Baylor Dallas responsible for training the next generation of surgeons and supervises the surgical clerkship of the medical students. Dr Davis specializes in gastrointestinal surgery utilizing a minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic surgical approach. Dr Davis resides with his wife and 3 children in the Park Cities.

Chief of Bariatric Surgery Baylor

Video Games are for Everyone: Expanding Horizons of Interactive Entertainment

Video Games are for Everyone: Expanding Horizons of Interactive Entertainment


SpeakerPaul Bettner

*Paul Bettner has been creating interactive entertainment for over 20 years. In 2008, Paul and his brother David founded Newtoy, Inc., to create the smash hit Words with Friends and change mobile social gaming forever. Prior to Newtoy, Paul worked at Microsoft Game Studios where he helped create the blockbuster hits Halo Wars and Age of Empires. *In 2012 Paul founded a new game development studio: PLAYFUL CORP. Playful is on a critical mission to bring joy and connection to the world through beloved entertainment and family-friendly play. Their latest franchise, Lucky’s Tale, is a delightful platforming adventure originally released in 2016 for the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality platform. The first sequel, Super Lucky’s Tale, debuted in 2017 as an exclusive launch title for Microsoft’s new Xbox One X home console. New Super Lucky’s Tale, the third in the series, releases this fall on the Nintendo Switch. *Paul is an avid pilot and devoted family man. He lives in a 110 year-old home in McKinney, Texas with his lovely wife, Katy, and their three adorable children - Eloise, Arthur and Charlie.

Founder/CEO Playful Studios