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Graduate Students Celebrate Commencement

The December 9 ceremony featured remarks by Rich Padula

Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science celebrated the graduation of its accomplished master’s and PhD students on Saturday, December 9.

Held in the Technological Institute’s Ryan Auditorium, the commencement recognized 239 master’s students and 13 PhD students.

“As graduate students, you not only challenged yourself to learn new things and create new knowledge, but you served as role models and mentors for other graduate students and our undergraduate students,” said Dean Julio M. Ottino. “You connected with colleagues across departments and schools, curating your own whole-brain network, and you enriched many of our programs by bringing your unique perspectives. Our job is to teach you, but much of the time we find that graduate students teach us.”

Rich PadulaThe ceremony featured remarks by tech entrepreneur Rich Padula (’84), who founded Syclo and Deep Dish Technology. Padula emphasized the importance of building a positive workplace culture. He outlined three key attributes that contribute to a healthy culture: bringing the right attitude, being empathetic, and accepting failure.

“You will meet and work with people who have had experiences and exposure to things you haven’t,” Padula said. “It can sometimes feel foreign and disorienting, but if you step back and put yourself in their shoes, if you can try to understand what influences their thoughts, and if you think about what assumptions you made to arrive at yours, you will find that you have more in common than it first appears.”

Padula ended by stressing the importance of doing the right thing, which adds to a culture of trust, respect, and teamwork.

“I’m not going to dwell on this,” he said. “You know what the right thing to do is — just do it.”

In parting, Ottino congratulated the graduates and urged them to stay in touch.

“Although your careers may take you far from campus, we hope to see and hear from you on a frequent basis,” he said. “As alumni, you are the source of our value. We are only as good as the people that we produce. I am eager to see what you will accomplish.”