While we were all stuffing our faces this past Thanksgiving, eating loads of mashed potatoes and turkey legs, I was thinking ahead about next year’s Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon. Seeing that giant slice of pecan pie in front of me (do you pronounce it pea-cahn or pea-can?) got me thinking about just how important the University of Illinois is to the running community.
There are thousands of faculty and staff, tens of thousands of students, and hundreds of thousands of alumni who have made an impact on the world over the university’s 150-year history. Those alumni and faculty have been awarded 23 Nobel prizes. We are an institution of major accomplishments.
In fact, those LED headlamps you might be running with this winter would not have been possible without the work of Professor Nick Holonyak Jr., alumus and professor in the College of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In 1962, Holonyak developed the first light-emitting diode and changed the way we view light today.
That web browser you use to map your running routes, to share your running photos, and to celebrate your achievements on social media would not have been possible without the work of alum Marc Andreessen and others who created Mosaic, and later, Netscape.
For those GPS watches on your wrist, you can thank alumnus Jack Kilby, whose work on integrated circuitry allowed for smaller and smaller microchips. Without those, we’d still be running “about five miles” rather than 5.0 miles on the nose. For his work, Kilby was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2000.
Two years after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, the Illinois Industrial University came to be and landed in Champaign-Urbana, and the world has been changed for the better.
Next April I hope you will help us celebrate the 150-year anniversary of the University of Illinois by running one of the Illinois Marathon races. I hope you’ll wear your LED lights, sync your GPS watches, and share your experiences online with the rest of us.
See you on the roads!