Software engineer, visual artist to receive honorary degrees from KU

An engineer who co-founded Google Earth and now works for Uber and a visual artist renowned for her photography of the Great Plains will receive honorary doctorate degrees from Kansas University come spring.

The Kansas Board of Regents on Wednesday approved granting a Doctor of Science to Brian McClendon for outstanding contributions to the fields of electrical engineering and computer science and a Doctor of Arts to Terry Evans for outstanding contributions to the fields of photography and visual arts, to be awarded at KU’s spring commencement on May 15, 2016, in Memorial Stadium.

Both are KU graduates.

“Both of these honorees have made lasting contributions to help make our world a better place,” KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a news release. “Their work has led to a new age of digital mapmaking and a deeper understanding of the way the Midwest has shaped its inhabitants, and they serve as inspirations for the entire KU community.”

Brian McClendon

Technology invented by McClendon “will forever change every aspect of computer engineering and sciences, geography, meteorology, linguistics, anthropology … to name just a few of the fields dramatically altered by the power unleashed with Google Earth,” according to a biography provided by KU.

McClendon founded Keyhole Inc, a startup company that developed a web-based maps product called Keyhole and a language called KML, or Keyhole Markup Language, according to KU. Google acquired Keyhole in the early 2000’s and it became what’s now known as Google Earth, and McClendon became vice president of research at Google, also overseeing Google Maps and Street View. Earlier this year he left Google to become vice president of advanced technologies at Uber.

Terry Evans

Evans has taken to the air, wheat and oil fields to capture the Great Plains, resulting in ” stunning photographs that are beautiful, sensitive, humane and provocative,” according to KU’s biography on her. “They compel us to look closely at the places we live, the way we shape them, and the way they shape us.”

Evans has work in major museum collections including the Chicago Art Institute, Museum of Modern Art, N.Y., and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Anonymous Was a Woman Award.