College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Curiosity as infinite as the night sky: AJ Perron and Judson Martin’s podcast explores the universe 

AJ Perron and Judson Martin
AJ Perron and Judson Martin

“When I look up at the night sky, I know that we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the universe is in us.”  

– Neil deGrasse Tyson 

For as long as they can remember, Arthur (AJ) Perron, a junior in industrial engineering, and Judson Martin, a sophomore in aerospace engineering, have been filled with questions about the universe, our place in it, and everything in between. And they think a lot of other people have questions, too. 

“I really don’t feel like education is locked into something specifically for younger people or those only in a traditional academic setting. Anybody can be curious at any age,” said Perron. 

With that perspective, Martin and Perron realized they could connect with others and drive a conversation focused on curiosity both with current college students and younger audiences.  

The result is Universe-ity “the podcast where we challenge the way you think about Earth, existence and the unknown,” as described on their Spotify page. 

“Our goal isn’t to try and teach everybody everything there is to know. Our goal is to make them curious and inspire them through the stuff we talk about,” Perron said. 

“In the scale of the universe we are a speck of dust – we’re not significant. But we’re still able to make a huge influence on the small part of the universe that we inhabit, and we can explore,” said Martin. 

“I grew interested in science and technology from YouTube videos and stuff like that,” said Martin. “Being the people now that create those videos, or in our case, a podcast, that’s getting newer scientists and engineers excited – it’s definitely rewarding.” 

“So, the idea of just a couple younger people listening to our podcast and hearing stuff that makes them want to ask more questions or pursue STEM further – that’s a real reason we keep going with Universe-ity,” said Perron 

Universe-ity started growing and Perron and Martin became comfortable with the tools available in the Student Innovation Center’s Digital Media Studio and wanted to expand their operation to include guests to help them tackle different topics.  

When thinking about potential guests the duo first thought of their dream guest, Neil deGrasse Tyson. In a moment of “why not?” They reached out to his team to see if he would be willing to appear on the Universe-ity podcast. “I mean, what is the worst thing that can happen? He says no. We can handle that,” said Perron. 

To their surprise Neil deGrasse Tyson accepted their offer, making him the first guest on Universe-ity. They couldn’t believe that such a world-renowned scientist would be willing to sit down with them. 

That interview gave the podcast the boost to keep pushing forward. According to Perron, “Before that, we had like 200 followers max and now, we’re at almost 40 thousand! He really helped get us on the map.”  

The future of Universe-ity is still a mystery, but that is what keeps Perron and Martin excited about the project.  

”You really never know what’s behind the next door. So as long you keep pushing, you know, things, people change,” claims Perron.  

One thing is for sure, the podcasting pair will continue to be asking questions about the world around them. 

Ready to turn your curiosity and creativity into action? Check out the makerspace tools and support available in Iowa State University’s Student Innovation Center.