As of yesterday at ~2:30 P.M. the University of Iowa chucked me out on my rear end while I was wearing a stylish and billowy black robe and an awesome orange tassel. Yes, I have been graduated. It’s official! I shook hands with Jane Dorman- head of admissions (or something like that), P. Barry Butler- dean of engineering, Dr. David Murhammer- chair and (my personal favorite) professor of the chemical engineering department, and finally Sally Mason- president of the University of Iowa.
The ceremony was peppered with bouts of recognition and speeches. Well, actually only 2 speeches were given. One by the student “representing” the graduating class, and then other by an alumnus. The student chosen, who shall remain nameless in this blog, is hardly what I would call representative of my class. …But then again I wouldn’t really call the kids I graduated with yesterday, “my class”. No, I don’t really consider myself a member of the class of 2008. I really consider myself a member of the class of 2007, but that’s just because all of my friends were in that class. The class of 2007 was amazing and I don’t think that I would have had near as good a time, nor done as well as I did if I had been in any other class. Why I didn’t graduate in 2007 was because I took 2 semesters off to do internships, so I’m not a super senior. But that’s beside the point. Anyways, this guy who gave the speech wouldn’t have represented any class well! He graduated with highest distinction (meaning that he had a GPA that was in the top 2% out of the entire university, not just the college of engineering), was a member of the Iowa men’s swim team, and is a Canadian citizen. Being a Canadian citizen doesn’t make him not a good representative though…I just put that in because it’s true…it’s mainly the first two things put together.
Anyways, think about it. Most engineers did not graduate with any distinction, or even honors. Most of us were not on a university sports team either. This guy was an overachiever from the day he was born, and he’s going to be that guy that everyone likes but hates because he’s always going to show everyone up. His speech was alright, but honestly it was the same speech you would expect to hear at every year’s graduation. He talked about the good times we all had in the engineering building and its computer labs, staying up all night doing homework and studying and writing reports, going to the bars with your backpack straight after a class/test/homework session/etc. Stuff that we can all appreciate because we’ve all been there. However, the way he presented the speech was so unoriginal it was boring. I wish that the person giving the speech would have been some kid from Iowa (because I think the larger percentage of the class was from Iowa), who had a GPA somewhere around 3.2-3.4, and was in a couple of clubs, but nothing major. Not an overachiver, nor an underachiever, but an average achiever. Somebody who really represented the class. No, I’m not talking about myself…but I do believe I probably could have written/given a better speech.
The other guy who spoke – the alum – was the CEO of Black and Veatch (http://www.bv.com/). His speech was actually quite good. It entertained me, and made me feel (oh such a cliche!) empowered. He talked about 3 S’s – Scenarios, Sustainability, and Security. Scenarios in the sense of scenario planning – the what if’s. Like how Shell was the only oil company back in the day that had plans for the scenario of ‘What if there’s an oil embargo?’ and totally came into it’s hay day because of it. Sustainability as in complete sustainability (not just environmental) but also economic and social. And then finally security, not necesarilly safety, but security as in using our skills and talents to our fullest ability in order to keep ourselves secure in our careers and to keep up to date in our field so that we never lapse into uselessness. He also gave us a formula to think about I=P*A*T, or Impact equals population itmes affluence times technology. The population continues to grow, which increases our global impact. Affluence in terms of 3rd world countries and how other countries are “affluent” to them (aka social/economic disparity). And then technology…which is pretty obvious… He challenged us to try and make technology a divisor instead of a multiplier…to try and lessen the impact on the world. All in all a good speech.