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McCormick Graduate Students Celebrate 160th Commencement

A PhD candidate receives his hood from his advisorA PhD candidate receives his hood from his advisor

Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering celebrated the graduation of 780 master’s and 190 PhD students on June 22 and 23 as part of the University’s 160th Commencement at three ceremonies held in the Technological Institute’s Ryan Family Auditorium.

Priscilla LuAlong with acknowledging the contributions of friends and family, Dean Julio M. Ottino focused on congratulating the graduates, expressing gratitude for their hard work as well as for the honor of serving as their professors and mentors.

“Over the course of your education, you’ve gained timeless skills that resist obsolescence, skills that have empowered you to become a leader in your field,” he said. “You will take these skills with you wherever you go.”

Priscilla Lu (PhD ’80), Asia head of Sustainable Investment Group at Deutsche Bank’s DWS, gave the address at the PhD Hooding Ceremony on Friday. Lu, one of the first women to earn a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science at McCormick, was “delighted” to see 52 women in the PhD graduation class.

She advised the graduates that as future leaders in the engineering world, the often-dizzying pace of change in technology will require them to stay in tune with their moral compasses to avoid “unintended consequences."

Ted Karwoski“We are finding that technology and engineering innovations continue to challenge ethical considerations, whether this is DNA analyses, gene therapy, bespoke treatment that is rendered possible by DNA sequence analyses, or infringement of privacy, big data information that may preclude moral considerations that pre‐empts compassion,” she said.

“As you all become the elite engineers that weave this intricate world, do not lose sight of the ‘whole brain,’ where the assessment of the totality of consequences and outcomes must be an integral part of what we value and what we strive for,” she added. “Follow your heart, but truly follow it with ‘a heart,’ with humility and with consideration for humanity.”

The next day at the Master’s Degree Recognition Ceremony, entrepreneur Ted Karwoski (MS ’81) who has developed many biomedical products, told graduates to focus on telling the truth, exploring, and dedicating themselves to being more human by supporting others along the way.

“Don’t just text. Instead, make personal connections. Surround yourself with friends that you can talk with, hold hands with, and share your love with,” he told the master’s graduates. “Try communicating an old-fashioned way — without your phone. If you do that, I assure you that you will be remembered for the positive difference you have made to those around you.”

Edward ChenLater, as the graduates of McCormick’s professional master’s program gathered, Edward Chen (’93, MEM ’98), reminded the graduates to always remember their Northwestern training.

“Luckily for all of you engineers in the audience, we are wired to solve problems. We are trained to solve problems. And Northwestern has prepared you well to solve big problems,” said Chen, CEO and founder of software company Biometrics4ALL, a software company that specializes in the biometrics processing for the background check and criminal arrest booking markets. “The bigger the problems you can solve, the higher the ranks you can climb.”

Ottino closed the ceremonies by reminding the new alumni to maintain their connection to Northwestern.

“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."