Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

Investiture: Class of 2015

Thayer’s graduating class was honored at Investiture, held June 13 at the Hopkins Center, with Dean Joseph J. Helble presiding over the presentation of hoods, caps, and awards to 153 recipients of BE and graduate degrees.

The annual Robert Fletcher Award, named for Thayer’s first dean and recognizing distinguished achievement and service in the highest tradition of the school, was presented to former U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Professor of Physics and Molecular & Cellular Physiology at Stanford and co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize.

Investiture Speaker Stephen Chu
Investiture speaker Steven Chu. Photograph by Mark Washburn.

“I love being a scientist. I love being a professor,” Chu told the audience. “Why was I willing to take on the directorship of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the role of secretary of energy?”

The answer, he said, was easy: “I, as a citizen, was increasingly concerned about climate change and felt that science, engineering, technology, and innovation were going to be the key ingredients to get us to a path of sustainability.” He related how at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab he thought, “Maybe I can convince some really outstanding scientists and engineers to get excited about this.” Later, as Secretary of Energy, he launched the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to inspire big thinking. “We started this with the idea that we didn’t want to fund incremental work. We wanted to fund things that could be transformational. That means instead of funding singles, we wanted to fund game-changing home runs. But we knew that if you swing for the fences, you’re going to strike out more. We fully expected that 90 percent of the projects would fail. We value your brave attempt.”

To the students he said, “You have the opportunity to go out there and make the world a better place and help save the world because many of your skills will be needed for sustainability and climate change.” And he urged them to think big. “You should go out there and take risks and don’t be afraid of failing. If you’re going to fail, fail fast and move on,” he said.

“When you look back when you’re old and gray like me and you see what you’ve been and the choices you’ve made, you want to be in a position where you say: I like the choices I made, I was willing to take risks, and you were willing to do things that you felt were meaningful and can really help the world as well as you and your family.”

Class of 2015 Engineering Graduates

Doctor of Philosophy: 12
Master of Science: 8
Master of Engineering Management: 51
Bachelor of Engineering: 82
Bachelor of Arts in Engineering Sciences: 77


View Investiture photos and videos.

Categories: The Great Hall, Investiture

Tags: award, energy, students

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