Events and Programs

Science Unscripted: Screens Behind the Scenes with Industrial Light & Magic

Join our conversation with Industrial Light & Magic, the innovators behind the visual effects of Star Wars, Avengers and so much more.

Event Overview

On September 25, 2019, the National Science and Technology Medals Foundation will host an intimate evening of conversation and discovery with a team from Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) at Spelman College. 

4:30 PM Networking event with representatives from ILM.
5:00 PM Panel discussion
7:00 PM Reception with free food and drinks

We invite you to join us for a fascinating discussion about what it takes for a company to lead an industry, how to create a culture of innovation by fostering a diverse and inclusive environment, and personal career stories from current ILM employees. Featured speakers from Industrial Light & Magic include Bridgette Powell, Ryan Smith, and Jean Bolte.

This event is one of many in the NSTMF’s Science Unscripted events. Through the SU program, the Foundation is building an inclusive coalition of inspired STEM students.  By highlighting voices often left unheard in the STEM community, we show audiences that there is no “right” way to be an innovator.

In 2004, Industrial Light & Magic received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for their industry-defining work in visual effects technology.

ILM was founded in 1975 under the guidance of Jon Dykstra and George Lucas. From humble beginning in a warehouse in Van Nuys, California, ILM is now a leading name in the motion picture industry. The special effects company is known for their landmark work in Star Wars, Terminator, Men in Black, Avengers, Harry Potter, and so much more. Industrial Light & Magic continues to lead the special effects industry with bold ideas and a relentless drive for innovation.

We are proud to announce that moderating the discussion with ILM will be Dr. Ayoka Chenzira, a chair of the Department of Art & Visual Culture and professor at Spelman College. An award-winning visionary in Black independent cinema, Dr. Chenzira lends important insights to the evening’s discussion.

This event will be webcast live with closed-captions on Facebook, and the full event video will be available on the NSTMF website afterward. Webcast audiences are encouraged to participate in the conversation using #ScienceUnscripted on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. 

The event is no-cost, equal access (ADA compliant), and open to the public with priority given to Spelman students and faculty.

Save your seat now through our Eventbrite!

About the Speakers

Ayoka Chenzira

Picture from Spelman College

Ayoka Chenzira, Ph.D. is division chair for the arts, chair of the Department of Art & Visual Culture, and professor at Spelman College. Dr. Chenzira is an award-winning pioneer in Black independent cinema. She has completed visionary work in fiction, documentary, animation, performance, interactive cinema, and more. Her filmography includes “Alma’s Rainbow,” one of the first 35mm independent films by an African-American woman, along with “Hair Piece: a film for nappyheaded people,” “Zajotaand the Boogie Spirit,” and most recently the NAACP award-nominated “Queen Sugar.” Dr. Chenzira is a graduate of New York University (B.F.A. Film), Columbia University/Teachers College (M.A. Education) and is the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in digital media from the Georgia Institute of Technology. 

Bridgette Powell

Bridgette Powell is a software engineer at Industrial Light & Magic, currently developing pipeline data tools and workflows for artists. Prior to working at ILM, Bridgette began her career in R&D for the feature animation industry. The creative collaboration between artists and engineers is what inspires her to work in film. Bridgette’s curiosity motivates her to reach out to production departments, learn their workflows, and develop tools to improve artist efficiency. Bridgette holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Georgia Tech and an M.S. in Computer Science from U.C. San Diego.  

Ryan Smith

Ryan Smith is a Manager, Human Resources Business Partner at Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sounds, both Disney companies under Lucasfilm. Ryan helps studio leadership and artists navigate the complexities of production employment and develop strong, rewarding careers. Before joining ILM, he has worked at Macy’s, Inc., ManpowerGroup, and most recently was the People and Culture Partner at William Sonoma. Born and raised in Detroit, Ryan went on to receive his Bachelors in Business Administration (Human Resource Management), also with concentrations in Political Science and Economics from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI. At WMU, Ryan held executive positions in the Black Congratulatory Council, the NAACP, Alpha Phi Alpha, and more. 

Jean Bolte

Picture from Women in VFX

Jean Bolte came to Industrial Light & Magic in 1987, where she worked as a Model Maker on the "transformation sequence" of Willow and was the first to use ILM's groundbreaking "morph" technology. She has previously headed a small effects company in London, where she lived and worked for ten years. Bolte has also worked at Jim Henson Productions, where she created creatures and make-up for Labyrinth, The Storyteller and Witches & The Bear. Additional projects that she has worked on include The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe; the Star Wars prequels; Men in Black; Pacific Rim; and The Princess Bride. In 1992, Bolte became Model Project Supervisor for ILM's model & creature shop, and in 1994, she moved to the Computer Graphics department to work as a texture painter, utilizing ILM's proprietary digital painting software. 

Thank you to our event sponsors