Convocation Welcomes Class of 2016

Waiting for the convocation ceremony at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) to begin, incoming first-year students filled rows of white folding chairs in the gym and chatted with anticipation. Among them were friends Valentina D’Costa and Divyaben Patel, who graduated from the same high school in Queens last spring. Patel said that she chose NYU-Poly because her older sister also attends and likes it. D’Costa said, “My mother inspired me to go for this. In India, there’s not much opportunity for girls. That’s why we came to the U.S. My older sister is going into medicine, so I’m going into engineering.

Today’s Beginners, Tomorrow’s Leaders

“It’s been said by a friend of mine that talent is the oil of the 21st century,” said President Hultin in his opening remarks. “You are that talent.” Hultin exhorted students to combine traditional disciplines with new ways of thinking.

Incoming students, he said, will be in the prime years of their careers when Earth’s population reaches a predicted nine billion humans. Today’s eager first-year students—applying the school’s “i2e” approach: invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship—will someday graduate to become the scientists and engineers “inventing technologies for smarter cities and infrastructure,” said Hultin, or “delivering better healthcare.”

Hultin then introduced a notable graduate, the convocation’s keynote speaker: Fred Amoroso, who is an alumnus and the chairman of the Board of Directors, Yahoo! Inc.

“Forty-five years ago, perhaps to this very day, I was sitting in your seats,” said Amoroso. “It all started here... In my first organic chemistry class, I [thought], ‘Well, what’s this new thing called systems engineering?’ It was about computers, and bridging the analog and digital.”

The rest, of course, is Amoroso’s well-known professional history. After receiving a BS in systems engineering and an MS in operations research from NYU-Poly (then called the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn), Amoroso went on to play major roles in companies including Price Waterhouse (now Pricewaterhouse Coopers), IBM, CrossWorlds Software, Meta Group, Warburg Pincus, Rovi and, of course, Yahoo!.

Speaking to the relationships between innovation and business, Amoroso encouraged new students to take advantage of every possible opportunity offered to them during their years at NYU-Poly. He ended his remarks with “Thinking,” a poem by Walter D. Wintle, which includes the lines: “If you think you are outclassed, you are / You’ve got to think high to rise / You’ve got to be sure of yourself before / You can ever win a prize.”

Following Amoroso’s keynote speech, he was awarded a prestigious honor: the Distinguished Alumnus Award. The award was presented by Josiane Arbouet, president of the Polytechnic Institute Alumni Association (PIAA).

The 2012 Jacobs Excellence in Education Award was also bestowed on Professors Tommy Lee (Chemical and Biological Sciences) and Allan Goldstein (Technology, Culture, and Society).

Lastly, the Nick Russo Award for Outstanding General Engineering Design was awarded to 16 students.

The ceremony closed with remarks from Provost Katepalli Sreenivasan and a photo slideshow of incoming students’ responses to the question: What will YOU do? “I will engineer the next best gadget,” wrote one student. “I will harmonize innovation with conservation,” was another’s reply. “I will chase the life I really want,” wrote a third. And a fourth: “I will change the world.”