UCI’s Largest Class of Engineers Graduates

2015 CommencementJune 22, 2015 - “You have earned your degree, but your education has just begun,” UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman told the packed house at the Samueli School of Engineering’s 2015 Commencement on June 12.

Excitement, pride and joy filled the Bren Events Center as family and friends watched 627 undergraduates receive their bachelor’s degrees and 150 accept their master’s degrees. (Fifty-five graduate students received their doctorates Saturday afternoon, June 13, at a Hooding Ceremony.)

This year’s celebration marked UCI’s 50th commencement and the Samueli School of Engineering’s first individual graduation ceremony. Engineering usually shares the event with the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, but the size of the Samueli School’s student body required a change in that tradition.

“It is my sincere hope that you will think of UCI as having cultivated and enriched your mind and spirit, and as having prepared you for your ongoing development as a free and educated human being,” Gillman said. “The world is an endlessly fascinating place, and if you stay curious and hungry for new knowledge you will find a lifetime of rewards and ever-deeper shades of wisdom, passion and meaning.”

Engineering Student Council President Swaril Mathur told her peers, “What UC Irvine has taught us is that engineering is the study of improvement …of problem solving, of breaking boundaries, of constantly striving to meet an ever-rising expectation of excellence. Engineering is not just a major but a lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle that results from an inextinguishable intrinsic motivation to make oneself, one’s community and one’s world better than they are today.  

“We will cultivate a culture of innovation. When we sit in boardrooms, classrooms and living rooms, discussing the future of a project or the future of our field, we will be the voice of progress,” said Mathur. “We may not always have the right answers, but we will always ask the right questions.”

Engineering school namesake, Henry Samueli, delivered the commencement address. Samueli is co-founder, chief technical officer and chairman of the board of Broadcom Corp., one of the world’s leading broadband communication semiconductor companies, with over 10,000 employees worldwide and over $8 billion in annual revenue.

Samueli shared his own story with the audience. He explained that his seventh grade science teacher reluctantly let him build an AM/FM radio as a project. “I worked diligently every night on it, and when I brought it back to class to show my teacher, I was scared to plug it in because I thought it would explode. We both were in shock that it worked, and I made it my mission in life to figure out how that radio worked.”

Samueli earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from UCLA and then went to work in the defense industry. “I was fortunate enough to work on some of the most advanced military satellite and radio communications systems in the world,” he said. “The practical experience that I gained at TRW provided invaluable shaping of my future career in broadband communications technology.”

Samueli left TRW to join the faculty at UCLA, where he taught and conducted research for 10 years until he co-founded Broadcom with his first Ph.D. student, Henry Nicholas.

Samueli urged the students to “find a career path that you love and have a passion for. Stick with it and stay committed even through times of adversity, and ultimately you will be rewarded with success. Success is not only measured by financial achievement; job satisfaction and career enjoyment are far more important,” he said.

“Once you achieve success, no matter how modest, it’s very important to remember your roots and give back. To perpetuate the incredible standard of living we have here in the U.S., we must continue to promote and sustain our amazing culture of innovation.”

Samueli School Dean Gregory Washington concluded the program by recognizing all those in the audience who supported the students: parents, relatives, friends and coaches. “Thanks and congratulations to you, too.”

Washington then led the entire auditorium in a jubilant, thunderous chant of “Zot, Zot, Zot!”

-Lori Brandt; photos: Debbie Morales

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