NASA admin offers reality check

David Dolling, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, extolled the strengths of its pool of students from around the world and assured the students that their degrees will be an incredible asset in their futures.

The importance of ethics and the continued pursuit of knowledge were abundant throughout the more than two-hour long ceremony May 14 in the Smith Center.

“We hope that we have instilled in you the absolute imperative of ethical behavior in everything you do personally and professionally,” Dolling said.

Dolling made a point to mention the over 40 percent of women who attend the school – far greater than the national average. According to data from the National Science Foundation, about 11 percent of engineers nationally are women.

Micah Foster, who was recognized as the distinguished scholar for the ceremony, emphasized the strength of his teammates and the continual pursuit of knowledge, citing the study of land, sea and space as major accomplishments of mankind.

“These victories were not started as a safe bet, or by knowing how they would turn out,” Foster said. “We can always be exploring.”

Student speaker Ashley Kowalski, who received her bachelor’s of science in mechanical engineering, also reminisced about the strength of her classmates and charged her fellow graduates to never give up.

“We are the ones who must change the world for the better,” Kowalski said.

Former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin began his keynote address on a different note, urging the graduates to give notice to such technological failures as the Space Shuttle Columbia crash in 2003 and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill last year.

“The plain fact is that engineers and their creations in today’s world are simply expected to be successful,” Griffin said. “The good news is that, in the majority of instances, we have indeed learned to make it so. The bad news, however, is that when we fail, it is in a very serious and very public way.”

Griffin emphasized to the graduates the importance of seeking more than just knowledge and looking for wisdom throughout the their lives.

“You’ve begun to learn how to acquire knowledge, how to apply and how to act upon it. It’s a lifelong process, and you will still be at it on the day you retire…you carry the added responsibility of learning how to do the right thing,” Griffin said.

But the May 14 evening graduation ceremony could not escape the absence of Taylor Hubbard, a biomedical engineering student who passed away last spring. Dolling held a moment of silence at the beginning of the ceremony to remember the student.

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