Adler Staff Star: Meet Wes!
Editor’s Note: Updated in May 2023 to reflect more current and updated information.
Former Theater Technician
Hi Wes! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Working on the Museum Campus and specifically here at the Adler is a childhood dream come true, only it’s better than I ever could have imagined. As a kid I was (and still am) obsessed with the Star Trek-ian concepts of exploration, charting the unknown, and scientific discovery.
After pursuing a degree in the physics of sound, acoustics, I started off my professional career designing high-performance private theaters for luxury clientele. While my position allowed me to travel to unique places and was intellectually challenging, I wanted to work for the public rather than a select few. I’m able to do that here and it has been incredibly rewarding.
Outside of audiovisual technology and thinking about sound, I find great joy in listening to and creating podcasts, volunteering, and learning new skills through creating things!
What is your favorite part about being a Theater Technician here at the Adler Planetarium?
My favorite part about working in the Theaters and Digital Experiences department has to be my coworkers. Everyone that I work with is so supportive, fun, and interested in all the same nerdy things that I am. We all want to make amazing things happen for our community and its incredible being in a position where you can! And how can I complain when I get to have fun doing it.
You produced a Pre-Sky Show concept all about George Carruthers that is being shown in the Grainger Theater. What was the process like to bring this visualization to life?
This was a really entertaining process. I worked closely with Nick Lake the Manager of Theater Experience and Presentation learning how to craft a narrative utilizing our planetarium software. He had brought up some imagery of the Earth that was captured from the moon using an invention of Dr. Carruthers, and we talked about how cool it would be to be able to put our audience on the moon! Once we had that idea we ran with it, shaping the model of the universe we use in our Sky Shows to serve as a platform to talk about Dr. Carruthers’ influence and legacy.
Collaborating with the Director of Astronomy Geza Gyuk and Senior Writer Aubrey Henretty, we dug into Dr. Carruthers rich history writing up a script for the show and I personally grew to admire his significant contributions to space imaging technology. Pulling all of the Adler staff’s skills together I started to gather imagery of Dr. Carruthers from NASA and program the show. Nick and my boss, Steve Burkland the Manager of Theaters and Digital Technology, helped again by providing invaluable feedback that ultimately led to the show you can see today.
I cannot express how special it felt to be up in the Grainger Sky Theater watching the first run of the pre-show before our newest Sky Show, Imagine the Moon.
What is something Theater Technician’s do for a planetarium that most people do not realize?
Our work expands well outside of the theaters. Being pluralists with wide technical skill sets, our team ends up doing a variety of things throughout the building. While you may expect that I’m working on the sound in the theaters, I have developed playlists of music to be used in our Community Play Lab, consulted on the audiovisual design of future spaces, and I am currently prototyping 3D printed parts for robots to be used in our upcoming Adler Summer Camps!
If you had the opportunity to go on a mission to the Moon, would you go? Why or why not?
I’d go in a heartbeat. Mars on the other hand would be a harder choice. While being incredibly dangerous I cannot think of a cooler opportunity. I have a dream of exploring the seafloor and mapping the unknown using sound waves, so a mission to the Moon fits within the trajectory of “boldly going where no one has gone before”.