Now and forever Berkeley Engineers
Berkeley Engineering held its 144th Commencement on Sunday, May 19, at the Hearst Greek Theatre, with baccalaureate degrees conferred in the morning ceremonies and graduate students receiving their degrees during the afternoon ceremonies.
“This is my favorite day of the entire academic year,” Dean Shankar Sastry said at the ceremonies’ openings. He then went on to challenge this year’s graduates: “I ask you to answer the call of the citizen engineer. I want you to use your engineering talents to create better living conditions, greater prosperity and a healthier planet for all. Wherever you go, remember that you will always be a Berkeley Engineer.”
This year two very distinguished engineers were invited to deliver the commencement address. Dan Mote is a Berkeley Engineering alumnus and was a mechanical engineering faculty member for 31 years. He then went on to serve as the president of the University of Maryland and was recently elected the president of the National Academy of Engineering. Mote encouraged the undergraduates to break rules and challenge the ordinary way of doing things.
“Great contributions in any field are made at the edges, never at the middle. The frontiers, after all, never lie in the middle,” Mote says. “So where do you find these edges? Well, just look around you. The edges are lonely places, they are high-risk places, they are easily criticized places. The edges are where most people—especially top students—are afraid to go.”
He left the class of 2013 with this advice: “Think about getting out on the edge some of the time. Society needs great contributions from its best and brightest people—people just like you. Give yourself a chance to be a great contributor.”
The graduate ceremony speaker was Arati Prabhakar, the director of DARPA and a member of the college’s advisory board. She has worked at the intersection of technology and business at government agencies, as an executive in Silicon Valley and as a partner in venture capital firm.
“There is something special about Berkeley that I have always treasured, and that is the fact that it is a place that combines academic excellence with a public mindedness,” Prabhakar said. “Engineering is a good place to stand, and it is a particularly great place to stand to change the world. I look at all of your faces, and I see the determination and the skill and the talent that brought you to this point, and I think about the work you are going to do in the years ahead, and I want to speed you on your way.”
Another Berkeley Engineer, Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, gave the university-wide commencement address. Of all his accomplishments, Wozniak said his proudest moment, still, was the day he graduated from Berkeley.