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

Investiture: Class of 2017

Frances Arnold. Photograph by Mark Washburn.

The largest graduating class in Thayer School’s 150 years was honored at Investiture, held June 10 in Spaulding Auditorium. With Dean Joseph J. Helble presiding, Thayer School handed out hoods and awards to a record 183 recipients of BE and graduate degrees. At Commencement the next day, an additional 98 students received AB degrees in engineering.

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 Frances Arnold, the Dickinson Professor of Chemical Engineering, Biochemistry, and Bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology.

“I have worked with and drawn inspiration from the greatest engineer of all time: nature,” Arnold told graduates. “Nature has discovered amazing solutions to an incredible array of difficult problems, not the least of which is the problem of being alive! Nature figured out how to extract materials and energy from widely different sources and convert them to a vast collection of brilliant self-repairing, adaptive materials, molecular machines, control systems, and chemical factories, with great efficiency and often minimal waste. We should strive to match this elegance and efficiency in any of our human-engineered systems.”

Nature has a societal message for us as well, Arnold added. “Innovation comes straight out of diversity—of recombining different parts and recombining different experiences. Without that diversity, we all move down the same path, and we accumulate a lot of wrong ideas. Nature teaches us that’s a sure route to extinction.”

In his remarks, Helble cited a recent Gallup Poll finding that Americans view the trustworthiness and integrity of engineers as second only to nurses. “My message this morning is that the public tells us that this voice—the engineering voice—your voice—is a trusted voice. And I am asking you, each of you, in your own way, to think about at this moment in time, what it would mean to use it in a more public think about engaging in the issues of your day in whatever way works for you, but that pushes you slightly outside of your engineer’s and engineering comfort zone.”

Class of 2017 Engineering Graduates

Doctor of Philosophy: 11
Master of Science: 9
Master of Engineering: 2
Master of Engineering Management: 48
Bachelor of Engineering: 113
Bachelor of Arts in Engineering Sciences: 98


See full texts and videos of these speeches.
View photos.

Categories: The Great Hall, Investiture

Tags: Investiture

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