Several with Engineering at Illinois ties to speak at 2015 Pygmalion Festival


Mike Koon, Marketing & Communications Coordinator

The Pygmalion Festival, which started in 2005 with bands playing local venues in Champaign-Urbana, continues to grow in stature and popularity. In 2015, Pygmalion adds a Tech component, aligning itself alongside several of the top festivals of its ilk, and Engineering at Illinois will be highly featured in the maiden year. The festival runs from Sept. 23-27 with events in both Champaign and Urbana, and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and Research Park on campus.

Scott Daigle, who earned both B.S. and M.S. degrees in mechanical science and engineering, is co-founder and CEO of IntelliWheels, an innovation house for wheelchair technology.

Bruce Vojak is an adjunct professor of electrical and computer engineering and Associate Dean for the College of Engineering. He is also an innovation consultant for Proctor & Gamble.

Daigle and Vojak will be part of a panel on “Design Thinking” from 9:30-10:45 am on Thursday, Sept. 24 at Research Park’s EnterpriseWorks.

Owen Doyle, a 2002 Illinois graduate in electrical and computer engineering, is heading up Ameren’s new Innovation Center at Research Park. He is part of a panel, “What the Internet of Things Really Means” from 1:15-2:30 pm on Thursday, Sept. 24 at Research Park’s Enterprise Works.

Aadeel Akhtar, a PhD student in neuroengineering at Illinois, is co-founder of Psyonic, 2015 Cozad New Venture winner, whose mission is to develop high quality prosthetic hands at a low-cost, making them available to those in developing nations. He will be part of a panel on “Tech for All: How Innovation Improves Quality of Life” from 2:45-4 pm on Thursday, Sept. 24 at Research Park’s Atkins Building.

Mark Scifres is Chairman, CEO and President of Pavlov Media, one of the nation’s largest private providers of broadband services to multi-family real estate owners. The company was founded in 1992, while Scifres was completing his degree in general engineering from Illinois. He will part of a panel discussion on “Fiber-optic Internet: A Micro and Macro Discussion: Champaign-Urbana and Beyond” from 6:45-8:15 pm on Thursday, Sept. 24 at Sipyard in Urbana.

Steve LaValle, professor of computer science, returned to campus last fall after a two-year leave to lead Oculus VR efforts prior to its $2 billion acquisition from Facebook in March 2014.

Sanjay Patel, professor of electrical and computer engineering and a Donald Biggar Willet Scholar, co-founded Personify in 2009. The company creates products that enhance the way people communicate via video for on-line meetings, on-line training and education, desktop telepresence, and video chat.

LaValle and Patel will be part of a panel, “The Future of Immersive Tech and Virtual Reality” from 2-3:30 pm on Saturday, Sept. 26 at Big Grove Tavern in Champaign.

All the talks on Thursday and Saturday are free. Full tech event tickets are free to students or $25 for the general public. For more information on the festival, visit