Thank you, Dean Mills, and good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. As I drove here from Chicago this morning I noticed a roadsign that said, "Welcome to Normal." Now, I must tell you that -- after more than 30 years with IBM and the last year-plus directing Argonne National laboratory it was a delight to reach a place called "Normal."
Actually, Dean Mills, if someone were able to find me one of those roadsigns, I have just the spot for it in my office. We have a few chemists and biologists who could use some time in "Normal" -- and as for the physicists, well they may be totally unaware that "Normal" even exists!
I also know several government officials who fall into that category.
You kindly invited me today to talk about "Science, Business, and The 21st Century" here in the Illinois State University business school. That invitation, this location, and the topic of this speech all say a great deal about the subject. And what's said is very positive.
Not too many years ago, this speech I am about to deliver would not be given here. You would be listening to a Fortune 100 business executive, not the director of a national laboratory. And I would be in the Science building, perhaps only dimly aware that an Illinois State business school existed.
Yes, during much of my life scientists spoke only to scientists ... business people spoke only to business people. And if one happened to run into the other, they avoided awkward silences by talking sports or weather.
There is still some of that attitude around today. But it is changing.
As you business students proceed through your careers in corporate America, science will more and more enter your management decision-making. Students in the new Illinois State science building being dedicated today also will find that, as they proceed through their careers, business will more and more play a role in what they do in the laboratory and how they do it.
Because your core interest is business, today I will speak chiefly about the first part of that equation ... how science will affect your business opportunities.
Most business people easily understand the role that technology plays in their professional lives. From the pervasive intertwining of computer and communications technologies with every aspect of corporate life ... to the ever-accelerating changes in products and services from new technology ... to microprocessors and microcontrollers in cars, toasters, toys, and birthday cards.
But most business people are less clear about how science the precursor of technology -- impacts their lives.
Technology and Business first joined forces in a big way during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th Century. Certainly, before that the occasional genius such as DaVinci promoted the worth of Technology -- but mostly in the service of more efficient ways to kill armies opposing their Duke or Prince. It was the Industrial Revolution when Technology came to be seen as an engine to generate profit for Business.
As for Science and Business ... well, except for their joint friendship with Technology, Science and Business remained relative strangers until World War II. Scientists and engineers then worked with Business to solve vital problems affecting the security and future of our country. The technology developed to do that job inevitably …