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Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Graduation Banquet

May 6, 2016

Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen.  Let me add my words of welcome to the 8th annual MAE Graduation Banquet.  It’s a pleasure for my wife, Lisa, and I to be here this evening to celebrate the class of 2016 – a class that has already shown that it can innovate, create, and engineer – a class that is getting ready to leave UTA richer in experience than when it first set foot on campus, and a class that I know will change the world – engineering a fabulous future for its members and all of us.

This has been another incredible year for Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering – actually I don’t think that your Chairman Dr. Armanios would even think of a year that wasn’t exceptional, and he is right – every year has been better than the one before.  In 2016, MAE had the largest enrollment in the College of Engineering – 1854 students, a 9.9 percent increase over the previous year and a 39.7 percent increase over 2011, and the department graduated 321 engineers in 2014-2015– an increase of 26.8 percent over the previous year, and I’m sure the number will be even higher next week when some of you walk across the stage during the graduation ceremony.  As graduating seniors you have a lot to be proud of, and we are in turn extremely proud of you and your accomplishments.

By graduating from the MAE department at UTA you have a sign in front of you that says that you are smart, you are hard working, and you are innovative.  You survived the quizzes, finals, and challenges thrown at you by our faculty – and perhaps you challenged them back in return.  You know that you are innovative, perhaps even brilliant, and we know it too, although we will probably wait about another week until after the graduation ceremony to tell you that.  But you now need to ensure that your intellect is used to make a lasting, and positive, impression on others – leaving your footprints on the sands of time. 

You move from a local stage – the University of Texas at Arlington to a much bigger one.  And you carry with you a tremendous reputation – one that is built not only on your own achievements and promise, but also built on the shoulders of those who have gone before you and created a legacy for UTA students’ capabilities in the corporate world and at universities across the globe.  With this reputation, however, comes a lot of responsibility – first and foremost you are now a standard bearer for this institution and your performance will affect those who come after you.  Do well, and your employer or graduate advisor will welcome other students from the MAE department in the future counting on the fact that they will gain from them as much as they gained from you.  Do badly – and they might not look at UTA students for a long time – do you feel that weight descending on your shoulders now?  But it’s a good burden to bear – it signifies that you are ready, that people look up to you and that you have influence and can make an impact. 

As engineers you have the innate ability to break a problem down to its smallest part, to look at the issues, devise solutions and pick the right one.  But we expect you to do more, to not only devise and apply solutions, but to develop policy, ensure that it is adopted, and that decisions are made by politicians and society that are rationale and well thought out – and yes that is what engineers do. 

As you do this do not forget your innate curiosity and your ability to see wonder in nature and draw inspiration from it.  See a rainbow and even though as engineers we know that it is due to the dispersion of light, look at its beauty and go seek that gold that is said to exist at the end of the rainbow.  We know it’s just an illusion but let’s put that aside for a moment and follow our imagination.  Follow new paths as they appear before you even though as aeronautical engineers you could devise solutions to see where the paths led using satellites and UAVs, for just as Robert Frost said:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference”

Stretch your wings, never be afraid to reach for the sky for you are Mavericks and there is no limit to what you can do.  You leave here empowered to change the world.   Make it the very best that you can, and look at each moment of your life as an opportunity to make a difference, never to look back and regret that you did not do something. 

Good luck, congratulations on your outstanding success, and best wishes for a wonderful future.