Ryan Thomason

Interview with Joanne Colan from Dean of Invention

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I’d like to thank Joanne for taking the time to respond to my questions, I think you guys are really going to like them! Don’t forget to check her out on Dean of Inventions on the Planet Green channel Friday nights! They currently have the full episode up on their site of ‘Building the Bionic Body’ you gotta give it a look here! Now, back to Joanne, enjoy the interview!

WPR: What was your favorite piece of technology you got to explore while filming for the show?

It’s hard to pick out a favourite because we explored many very different areas of technology during filming and if you were to line them all up next to each other, they don’t really compare. And I found each one absolutely enthralling! Of course any time I got to be “hands on” was a lot of fun like kicking BigDog, in the Robot Revolution episode, or trying out the eMotiv headset in the Wired Brain episode, driving the Aptera electric car, Forward Motion, or “flying” the Icon in the Icon custom designed simulator in the episode Future Flight.

WPR: When you were hosting on Rocketboom, it seems like you got to meet some interesting shakers and movers in different industries, do you have a favorite interview?

JC: My favourite interview, although it was really more a ‘meet and talk to’, happened much more recently this past summer. I was at the Television Critics Awards (TCA) in LA this August with Dean presenting Dean of Invention to the press as part of Discoverys’ upcoming new original series. The evening before the TCA event, we were invited to meet all the other people who are part of Discoverys new season line-up and watch highlights from their shows. As Sir David Attenborough’s new series First Life was being shown, I happened to look away from the screen and lo and behold, there was Sir David himself sitting at a table! Growing up in England, he was a firm family favourite and always on TV at home. His contribution to natural history film making is unmatched I think and has helped change our relationship to the natural world. Meeting him in person and chatting to him was a most memorable occasion for me.

WPR: It looks like you’ve done a wide variety of shows, are there any that you would want to go back if you had a reset button?

I guess it’s never occurred to me because I’m not really one to revisit or go backwards but certainly I have lots of good memories of things I’ve done. Being an MTV VJ is pretty cool, it’s got the big brand thing going on, and there were classic “rock’n’roll” moments that were glamorous and had an edge. I loved doing a travel series and tearing through countries with the insatiable ‘making TV’ appetite to ‘taste see do go explain experience’ anything and everything. Rocketboom was a platform for experimentation – I applied a more comedic approach and that’s always a lot of fun. And you can’t beat the challenge of working in a foreign language which I did plenty of having started out working in TV in France for French networks.

WPR: Can you tell us what it was like to go to all of the different places to help show us the emerging technologies for Dean of Inventions?

JC: Well, it’s a real honour to get to poke around someone’s laboratory or hangar or machine shop all day long and pick their (the Inventor’s) brains and have them explain in as much detail as they can the work they’re doing. Technology doesn’t just come out of nowhere, it’s a long often laborious process of trial and error, adaptation and evolution. And a big part of that is first an idea, a vision, a lot of passion and true dedication. I hope what we do in Dean of Invention is show you these emerging innovations and introduce you to the people behind them as if you’re in the lab talking to the inventor yourself.

WPR: What is something that you really wish you could tell more people about?

JC: That the fields of science, technology, engineering and medical research offer a huge variety of viable diverse fulfilling careers for both men and women and that the future of industry especially in developing new and sustainable technologies is going to depend on a growing work force in these disciplines. For much more on that I recommend having a look at Dean’s FIRST programs.

WPR: When you were doing work for MTV Europe, did you find teenagers there are any different from American Teenagers or all they all just as angsty.

JC: I haven’t noticed that American teenagers are any different to those I met when working for MTV. You do see differences in teenagers in different parts of the world due to varying social and economic backgrounds but generally, kids are kids and teens will be teens. They have different *stuff* depending on where you are in the world. I taught some virtual video classrooms last year for an organization called Global Nomads, where I talked to teens in high schools here along with kids from high schools in Iraq and Palestine. The theme was health and the environment. The students in the US didn’t share the same sources of stress as the Iraqi and Palestinian students who were dealing with the consequences of conflict – inconsistent access to food and health care, electricity outtages and disruptions to their school year. But they related to all the things they did share as teenagers and also enjoyed finding out they had some of the same tastes like Jay Z’s music and movies like Iron Man and Transformers. Across cultural boundaries, teenagers have plenty of things in common and in my experience, are eager to learn about each others’ lives.

WPR: Are there any other places people can get to know you other than watching Dean of Invention?

JC: Yes! Do check in each week for my written account accompanying each Dean of Invention episode.

You can read Joannes Diary HERE!

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