By Kathrin Havrilla
The College of Engineering’s Class of 2014 was reminded of the impact a Societal Engineer can make in improving society’s quality of life at convocation ceremonies on Saturday, May 17.
Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen led the way for the 336 undergraduates being recognized with a quote from the popular movie “A League of Their Own,” congratulating graduates for attaining what he contended was one of the most difficult degrees to earn from BU, with the classic speech “’If it wasn’t hard, anyone could do it. The hard is what makes it great. Anyone can’t do it. YOU can.’ Well done.”
The Dean went on to add “What you’ve done by getting an education at Boston University is really understand the extraordinary importance of learning how to create, design and interact with other disciplines and understand how to move organizations forward by integrating with a complex social economic system.”
Student speaker Shana Blumenthal (ME’14, Aero) will soon be working at Pratt and Whitney as part of a two-year rotational Manufacturing Engineering Development Program. As she said to her fellow graduates, “Great engineering feats of the past century were not developed by those who solved the easy problems, but by those risk-takers who attempted the impossible. It is our time to find solutions for new challenges. It is our responsibility to seek out opportunities to allow us to grow and develop.”
The commencement speaker Kevin Kit Parker (ENG’89) is now Tarr Family Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics at Harvard University, and led a research team that in 2011 upended the conventional wisdom about the cause of traumatic brain injury. Parker spoke consistently of strength and perseverance, mentioning his time as a U.S. Army paratrooper when he completed two tours of duty in Afghanistan. “I’m a BU-trained Societal Engineer. And my job isn’t always technical, but it always involves solving problems … Do not be afraid of the cutting edge.”
Dean Lutchen also gave out the Department Awards for Teaching Excellence, which went to Michael Smith (BME), Ajay Joshi (ECE) and William Hauser (ME). Outstanding Professor of the Year went to James J. Collins (BME, MSE, SE), and the Faculty Service Award went to Elise Morgan (ME, BME). He also noted that Stormy Attaway (GRS’84,’88) would receive the Metcalf Cup and Prize, the University’s highest teaching honor, at the University commencement ceremony the following day.
Later Solomon Eisenberg, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Programs and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, gave out a multitude of student awards: the Earle & Mildred Bailey Memorial Award for Scholarship and Service to the College to Nichole Black and Harvin Vallabhanemi; the Ging S. Lee Community Service Award for Outstanding Community Service to Habib Mohammed Khan; and the Anita Cuadrado Memorial Awards for Enthusiasm and Devotion to the College to Samantha Chan. The prestigious Outstanding Senior Project Awards were also given out to Sarah Clark and Jeremy Rosenthal (both BME) for “SGRS RNA Visualization in Live Bacteria Cells Using Fluorescent Protein Complementation;” to Vincent DeGenova, Stuart Minshull, Nandheesh Prasad, Austen Schmidt and Charles Vincent (all ECE) for “AutoScan;” and to William Gullotta, Coleton Kirchner and Aaron Yuengert (all ME) for “Resettable Landing Gear for Mars Hopper.”
And finally, the Societal Impact Capstone Project Awards were given to Yash Adhikari, Angela Lai, Timothy Mon and Leslie Nordstrom (all BME) in first place; to Ian Choen and Zachary Herbert (both ME) in second place; and Elving Cako, Anne DuBois, Benjamin Nichols, Evan Praetorius and Heather Towey (all ECE) in third place.
Later in the day, Girish Navani (MFG), CEO and Co-founder of eClinicalWorks, a leader in ambulatory healthcare IT solutions, delivered the speech at the master’s and PhD ceremony in which 86 master’s students, 150 MEng students and 53 PhD students were recognized for successfully completing the requirements for graduating. Navani was named a 2010 Mass High Tech All-Stars honoree and received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2009 Award in the Healthcare Technology category in New England, and was also chosen for the Boston Business Journal’s 2006 40 Under 40 list of entrepreneurs and innovators.
He commended the graduate students on their success, saying that “milestones like the one you are experiencing right now remind us of the paths we have taken, and present us with a road for the future. Today is full of promise; full of opportunity for what lies ahead.”