Connecting Alaska’s Villages

Contributed by Sheri Hamming, President of Palmer Historical Society

History Night Season Kick-Off
9/20/2017 – 7PM
Palmer Historical Society
Palmer Moose Lodge
1136 S Cobb St. Palmer
FREE Event

 Dr. Alex Hills

Dr. Alex Hills

Palmer Historical Society is excited to welcome Palmer resident, Dr. Alex Hills, for our History Night Season Kick-Off on September 20th at 7:00pm at the Palmer Moose Lodge! 

Dr. Alex Hills spent years living in rural Alaska, where he worked on providing telecommunication services to people living in the villages. He lived in Kotzebue, Nome and Bethel, but worked in more than a hundred small villages across the state. This work is described in his new book, Finding Alaska’s Villages: And Connecting Them

Later Alex became a university professor. He is now a distinguished service professor at Carnegie Mellon University and affiliate distinguished professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Well known in the fields of wireless, telecommunication and networking technology, he has lectured widely and published many papers and technical reports. He holds 18 patents, issued and pending. His easy-to-understand articles in Scientific American and IEEE Spectrum have been enjoyed by readers worldwide. 

Alex also led the team that built Carnegie Mellon’s “Wireless Andrew” system, the world’s first large Wi-Fi network. With this work described in his book, Wi-Fi and the Bad Boys of Radio, he helped to create the vision of what Wi-Fi would later become. 

Dr. Alex Hills will tell the story of how he worked in the far reaches of Alaska to provide radio and telecommunication services to the state’s villages 

Alex and his team traveled Alaska by bush plane and snow machine, braving extreme weather and rough terrain to get the job done. He fell into the rhythm of the villages and met Yup’ik and Inupiaq elders, learning about their strongly held values. But he also worked with some of Alaska’s telecom pioneers to bring better service to the villages. 

Later he took charge of KOTZ, Kotzebue’s new public radio station, which he shaped into a valuable information resource for the people of the state’s huge northwest region. At each step along the way, Alex made friends with Alaska’s village people and developed a deep respect for them. He also became friends with some of Alaska’s telephone and broadcasting heroes. 

The story is told in more detail in Alex’s new book, Finding Alaska’s Villages: And Connecting Them, which will be available at the event. 

As always History Nights are free events! 

We will see you there!