By KEN CARPENTER
Great Bend Post
It was Jack Kilby STEM Day at Barton Community College on Monday. The event is named after Great Bend native Jack Kilby who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2000. STEM is the acronym for science, technology, engineering and math.
Over 500 high school juniors and seniors from several central and western Kansas schools spent part of their day at the college to learn more about STEM subjects.
One of the highlights of the day was a keynote address by Brian McClendon, the creator of Google Earth and Google Maps. Currently a research professor at the University of Kansas, McClendon spoke via Zoom about the future of self-driving cars. He told the students that self-driving technology is not too far away in Kansas.
"You will see a service in Wichita and Kansas City within three to four years,” Mcclendon said. “You’ll be able to buy a car that handles the entirety of the United States including rural areas probably in ten years.”
McClendon also predicted that computer technology will completely replace human beings behind the wheel of a car.
"I think that at some point computers will be so much better than humans that allowing humans to be on the road is just too dangerous,” McClendon concluded.
The high schoolers also participated in two break-out sessions, an academic carnival and a math bowl tournament along with lunch at the Kirkman Center.