Graduation Festivities Open with Commencement Celebration

Dean Washington addresses the graduates, their friends and family.June 16, 2015 -- Graduating engineering students kicked off a weekend of celebration on Thursday afternoon, June 11, at the sixth annual Samueli School of Engineering Commencement Celebration. On a beautiful, sunny spring afternoon, nearly 150 students presented 107 senior design project posters and demonstrations – collaborated on by all 600-plus in the senior class – to parents, relatives and friends on the Engineering Gateway Plaza. The day’s festivities included remarks by Dean Gregory Washington, an induction ceremony into Order of the Engineer, and a stole ceremony, in which honor students received recognition and commencement-day regalia from representatives of several honor societies.

Dean Washington greeted the graduating seniors and their guests by sharing several important life lessons with them. The first lesson, he told them, is to believe in and trust others – teachers, parents, mentors – who have years of experience and knowledge to share.

“Second: don’t be afraid to fail, and fail big,” he urged, adding that the planet will face significant challenges and stresses as it approaches 7 billion inhabitants. “You’re going to have to take a risk. You’ll solve these problems, and that’s a gift.”

Washington also advised the graduates to invest in a lifetime of education and learning to keep up with a changing world. “About 65 percent of what we’ve taught you here is already obsolete,” he said to audience laughter.

He also pressed students to “embrace the globe,” saying that to get ahead in the world, “you’re going to have to speak two of the three major languages: Mandarin, Spanish and English.”

Finally, Washington told the new graduates: “Know that you are blessed. Seventy-five percent of the world doesn’t have clothing, a refrigerator or a place to sleep. We are truly blessed to be here in this country.”

Poster displays lining the plaza marked the final opportunity for students to share their senior design project. All five departments were represented. Sarah Becan, a chemical engineering major, was on hand to explain her project to design and optimize a crude oil distillation unit. 

Sarah Becan displays her project.

Becan already is looking forward to her next project: starting a job in August as a process engineer with Fluor Corps., a global engineering construction company. She plans to spend her short summer working on UCI’s Chem-E Car, which will compete in the national American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) student contest this fall.

The Order of the Engineer induction was led by Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies Lee Swindlehurst and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Student Affairs John LaRue. The incoming engineers took an oath to uphold the standards and obligations intrinsic to engineering, and received stainless steel rings signifying the strength and unity of the profession.

Stainless steel rings symbolize strength and unity of the engineering profession.Forty-five seniors then received stoles, cords and other insignia from six honor societies to wear as a symbol of their academic excellence. Professor Lorenzo Valdevit, dressed in full graduation regalia, told them, “Yours are the finest minds we’ve had the pleasure to instruct over the last four years.

“There are 627 graduates, yet only a handful of you receive stoles. Go out there and make a difference.”

He added: “We hope you’re as proud of being part of the Anteater family as we are proud of you.”

-- Anna Lynn Spitzer; photos: Debbie Morales

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