Thirty years later, Eric Klinker still remembers the speech, which was unlike anything he'd heard before — or since.
It was engineering freshman orientation inside a stuffy Lincoln Hall auditorium, and "the guest speaker didn’t hold back," says Klinker, now CEO of Resilio.
“His first words, simply and clearly spoken, set the tone: ‘The department you are about to enter saved my life.’
“He went on to describe groundbreaking, almost magical sounding technology — at least to that young farm boy in the audience — invented on campus that would later go on to detect and treat his cancer.
"He was standing before us as living proof of the impact an engineering education at Illinois can have on the world.
“As the next two decades would later prove, the future was all around us then. We only had to look.
“How fortunate for that farm boy from southern Illinois.”