Berkeley Engineering celebrates class of 2023 graduates
The ranks of 73,000 Berkeley Engineering alumni worldwide are now larger following the college’s 2023 commencement. Berkeley Engineering celebrated graduates over the course of three ceremonies, honoring nearly 2,000 bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degree recipients. Graduates were greeted by cheers — and a few tears — as family and friends celebrated this milestone achievement and capstone to their time at Berkeley.
The baccalaureate and master’s degree ceremonies were held on May 17 at the Hearst Greek Theatre, while the Ph.D. degree recipients were hooded on May 18 at Zellerbach Hall.
Engineering dean Tsu-Jae King Liu commended graduates for navigating rigorous engineering programs while enduring a global pandemic, natural disasters and societal and political upheavals. These experiences, she said, have helped prepare them to tackle “some of the most complex problems of our time” while also instilling the importance of community and compassion.
“Engineers are known as doers; we are regularly called upon to use our knowledge and skills to solve problems and innovate new solutions,” said Liu. “As Berkeley engineers, you also carry with you the ethos of our public university, to serve the greater good.”
Keynote speakers were Dave Gilboa (B.S.’03 BioE), co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, for the baccalaureate ceremony; Barbara Humpton, president and CEO of Siemens Corporation, for the master’s ceremony; and Colin Parris (M.S.’87, Ph.D.’94 EECS), senior vice president and chief technology officer at GE Digital, for the doctoral ceremony. They shared with graduates some hard-earned wisdom and a key piece of advice: measure your success by the positive impact you have on an ever-changing world.
Parris shared his belief in the promise that these Berkeley engineers have to direct this change they see in the world into a force for good. “I have this program here with all of your names in it,” he said. “I’m going to keep it because I cannot wait to see what journeys of change you each take and how you affect history.”
The keynote speakers also touched on the opportunities as well as the challenges that AI, including ChatGPT, presents to today’s engineers. This was a sentiment echoed by student speaker Coby Lim (MEng ’23 CEE) at the master’s commencement.
Lim spoke to the ways AI is shaping our world and the importance of developing engineers who will fight to ensure that technology is used responsibly. He pointed to the recent presidential election in the Philippines, his home country, as an example of how AI-driven misinformation campaigns can be used to corrupt systems and minds.
“If you want to build ethical technology that benefits mankind, you must first build ethical engineers,” said Lim. “And engineering is about more than just answering, or programming or solving — like a computer. It’s also about questioning, challenging and reimagining — things AI could never do. This is why we went to Berkeley.”
Other student speakers were Alex Moreno Belmares (Ph.D.’23 EECS) and Sharicka Zutshi (B.S.’23 BioE). Belmares emphasized the importance of not letting our past failures define us, while Zutshi focused on Berkeley engineers’ sense of deeper purpose.
While reflecting on her undergraduate years at Berkeley, Zutshi pointed out the ways that constant change has proved to be a positive force, opening the door to possibilities and challenging this new crop of engineers to become innovators, pioneers and disruptors. “What makes a Berkeley graduate unique is doing all of that with a passion for public service,” she said.