Remarks at Honors Convocation
Welcome to the 2017 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Honors Convocation. We are delighted to have family and friends here today, as we celebrate the achievements of our students and faculty.
The word “polytechnic” in the Rensselaer name comes from the Greek for “skilled in many arts.” We operate within a paradigm we term “The New Polytechnic,” which is based on the observation that both the challenges and the opportunities the world faces today are complex and interconnected. Addressing them requires capability rooted in deep foundational knowledge in a chosen discipline—because you do have to know something to do something. Importantly, it also requires broad-based collaborations to be fully addressed, so we believe that leadership consists of uniting a multiplicity of perspectives, across disciplines, sectors, and geographies, using the most advanced tools, technologies, and platforms.
Today, we get to see The New Polytechnic at its finest, as we underscore the connections within our community across the generations. As we honor members of the Rensselaer community at all stages of their careers, we know that those we recognize today have something very important in common: the sheer focus on excellence in the work they do.
There is no question that excellence characterizes the Rensselaer Medalists, who were the strongest science and mathematics students in high schools around the world, and who now are members of the great Class of 2021. We are pleased to have the opportunity to get to know them. And we expect great things from them.
We recognize, as well, the transfer students, upperclassmen, and graduate students who have received a diverse array of scholarships, fellowships, awards, and commendations. They have worked hard for these academic honors and demonstrated great intellectual agility and creativity.
And we recognize those students who have maintained 4.0 grade point averages. Given the intellectual rigor of the coursework at Rensselaer, such perfection truly is a remarkable achievement.
The faculty member we honor today is changing the world, leading us towards smarter electric grids—and more efficient use of energy—through his research into large-scale power systems and controls—and through teaching the great engineers of tomorrow.
The people we celebrate today—whether they are 18 years old…or several decades more advanced—inspire all of us. They remind us of the value of doing the best possible work with the greatest possible degree of focus, of vigorously tackling difficult problems, of generating a plethora of ideas, and of pushing the best of those ideas to fruition.
Rensselaer is a special place because of the people who are part of the Rensselaer community. And today, we thank those who give new meaning to the word, “outstanding.”
We are so grateful that you are among us.
Let us begin.