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Class of 2013 Urged to Become Leaders of Innovation Economy

May 28, 2013

        Commencement Speaker 2013
  Words Of Advise: Alumnus Felda Hardymon, an entrepreneurship education expert, gave 10 pieces of advice to the Class of 2013 as this year's commencement speaker. (Photo by Shawn Spence)

Entrepreneurship expert and successful venture capitalist G. Felda Hardymon, PhD, enlisted members of Rose-Hulman’s Class of 2013 to join him in bringing their creativity, ingenuity, and unique problem-solving skills to small high-tech companies leading the innovation economy that’s paving the way for America’s free enterprise system.

Hardymon, a 1969 Rose-Hulman mathematics alumnus, is a partner with one of the oldest venture firms, Bessemer Venture Partners, and has contributed to startup investments for office-supply company Staples, sporting-goods chain The Sports Authority, and several companies bringing technology to third-world countries. He also has taught and conducted research at Harvard Business School, and is currently a visiting professor of finance at the London School of Economics.

The innovation economy features small companies in existence less than six years that have created 53 percent of all U.S. jobs, while technical progress have contributed four-fifths of the growth in U.S. output per worker. 

In his commencement address, Hardymon acknowledged college graduates from his generation used innovation to help commercialize semiconductors, personal computers, mobile telephones, medical imaging, biology-based medicine, carbon-fiber materials, and online retailing—helping U.S. productivity increase over 100 percent.

Commencement 2013 - Processional          
Saluting Graduates: President James Conwell and 2012-13 Interim President Robert Coons joined faculty and administrators in congratulating the Class of 2013 during the processional (Photo by Chris Minnick)

“We are handling the ball off to you,” he told the 442 graduates earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees during the 135th commencement on May 25. “The graduates I see before me is potentially the most valuable gathering of people in the world at this moment.”

Later, Hardymon cited the wisdom of technology innovator Alan Kay by stating “the best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

He added: “If you choose to have confidence in your own abilities and stand on what you learned [at Rose-Hulman], you will relish the life of taking a chance to make completely new things, perhaps even pioneering a new industry—and most likely you will be a happier, more engaged person…The most satisfying things you can say to yourself are ‘I built that; I made it; that’s my design.’ Make a life where you can say those things often.”

Senior Class President Durushka Ahmed, a Pakistan native who received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, stated her classmates have received a quality education that will allow them to “solve anything.” “Be it through theory or experiment, we now have the wherewithal to solve the monumental problems of the world by breaking them down. Because of these skills, a few of us will become inventors, others will become innovators, some others will lead transformation, and some of us will continue to maintain the status quo that needs to be managed. But each individual’s success will help in making this world better and allow its occupants to thrive to their maximum potential.”

2013 Commencement          
Leading The Processional: As Senior Class President, Durushka Ahmed of Pakistan led this year's graduates in the processional through campus for this year's commencement. (Photo by Shawn Spence)

While the future needs more scientists, engineers, and mathematicians, there is even more demand for the problem-solving skills developed by Rose-Hulman’s latest graduates, according to Robert A. Coons, who served as the institute’s interim president during the 2012-13 academic year.

“The complexity of the modern world needs what you’re bringing to it; the ability to solve complex problems,” he told the Class of 2013. “The world may be changing around you—but you leave here today well equipped to positively impact that change.”



Hardymon Joins Robert Hillis in Receiving Honorary Degree 


         Commencement 2013 - Hardymon Hillis
  Honorary Degree Recipients: 1969 graduates Robert Hillis (left) and Felda Hardymon received honorary doctorate of engineering degrees during commencement. (Photo by Chris Minnick)

Felda Hardymon joined 1969 classmate Robert J. Hillis in being awarded honorary doctorates of engineering during commencement.

Hardymon is a partner with Bessemer Venture Partners, a global organization with $1.6 billion under management. He has led the investment with a number of young companies in the software, communications, and retail sectors, and has been named several times to the Forbes Midas 100 List of Venture Capitalists who possess the proverbial “golden touch.” He is co-author of the bestseller “Venture Capital and Private Equity.”

Prior to joining Bessemer, Hardymon worked at BDSI, the original venture subsidiary of General Electric, which invested in Ungermann-Bass, Stratus Computer and Western Digital. Prior to that, he taught mathematics and served as director of systems and research at Duke University, where he earned master and doctorate degrees. He also has a master’s of business administration from Harvard Business School.

Hillis, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, is president, chief executive officer, and founder of Direct Supply, Inc. He started the virtual distributorship, now known as Direct Supply Equipment & Furnishings in 1985, and it has become the largest supplier of equipment to senior living in the United States. It supplies nearly 17,000 institutions with more than 500,000 products, with no inventory.

In 1993, Hillis took the virtual concept to the Internet and formed Direct Supply DSSI—the nation’s first health care ecommerce network. Today, DSSI operates the largest virtual private network in health care. He is also the founder and chairman of the Alliance Partners, a group of health care suppliers that support the Alliance for Quality Home Nursing Care—14 of the largest senior living operators. After graduating from Rose-Hulman, Hillis earned a Master of Business Administration from Indiana University and received an honorary doctorate in engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering in 2007.


Graduates Ready to Start Careers, Attend Graduate Schools


        RHIT - Happy Graduate
  Happy Graduate: Greg Wakeland was happy to be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, a job and without student debt. The placement rate for the Class of 2013 was 92 percent by commencement day. (Photo by Dale Long)

Ninety-two percent of this year’s graduates had accepted full-time employment, plan to continue their studies at the graduate school of their choice, or earned military commissions before receiving their diplomas. And, they will begin with an average salary of $65,867—a three percent increase over last year, when Rose-Hulman’s starting salaries ranked 10th on a 2013 a national study—ranking higher than Harvard University and other Ivy League universities. One of this year’s graduates will start a job with a $107,000 salary!

This year’s placement rate matches past years by commencement. The rate is expected to reach 98 percent by November 1, the national reporting date.

The Office of Career Services reports the following statistics about this year’s job recruiting activity:

      • 1,807 campus interviews were conducted with students.
      • 377 companies attended campus career fairs.
      • 660 companies posted jobs or requested resumes from
      • 308 companies recruited on campus.

Companies hiring the Class of 2013 featured Texas Instruments (11), Archer Daniels Midland (7), Amazon (7), Eli Lilly and Company (5), Frito Lay (5), National Instruments (4), Caterpillar (4), General Electric (4), Raytheon (4), Software Engineering Professionals (4), Allegient (3), Bastian Solutions (3), Cummins (3), Dow Chemical (3), Ingredion (3), Microsoft (3), Rolls-Royce (3), Twenty percent of this year’s graduates are planning to attend graduate school.


Faculty and Staff Members Honored for Great Teaching, Research and Service


      Yosi Shibberu   Lorraine Olson   Lisa Norton
  Yosi Shibberu, PhD
  Lorraine (Lori) Olson, PhD
  Lisa Norton

Three members of the faculty and staff were recognized for their outstanding teaching, commitment to scholarship and undergraduate research, and service to the campus community.

Mathematics Professor Yosi Shibberu, PhD, received the Outstanding Teacher Award for having the highest standard of teaching excellence. A faculty member since 1992, Shibberu was one of only 32 mathematics professors profiled in the Princeton Review’s 2012 Best 300 Professors book of America’s best college educators.

The Board of Trustees’ Outstanding Scholar Award recognized Mechanical Engineering Professor Lorraine (Lori) Olson, PhD, for representing the highest standards of academic scholarship and serving as a role model for professional development. She is a strong proponent for undergraduate research experiences for Rose-Hulman students, being one of the faculty champions for the Independent Projects and Research Opportunities Program. Olson, who joined the faculty in 2002, has become a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and has authored or co-authored one book chapter, 39 journal articles, and 89 conference papers, presentations and reports.

Lisa Norton, director of admissions, received the President’s Outstanding Service Award for leading the recruitment staff that has attracted a quality student body and young alumni base since joining Rose-Hulman in 1998, and becoming director in 2007.


Seven Students Honored for Academic & Campus Achievements


     Sean Gorsky   Ross Hansen   Ethan Post   Alexandra Schwier
  Sean Gorsky
  Ross Hansen
  Ethan Post
  Alexandra Schwier

Five students were recognized for completing their undergraduate careers with perfect 4.0 grade point averages, two students earned honors for their campus achievements, and a graduate student was featured for the quality of his graduate research.

Earning the Heminway Gold Medal for having the highest overall grade point average in this year’s graduating class were Sean D. Gorsky, a double major in optical engineering and physics from Elmhurst, Illinois; Ross L. Hansen, an electrical engineering major from Gleneden Beach, Oregon; Ethan R. Post, a double major in chemical engineering and chemistry from Rockford, Michigan; Alexandra N. Schwier, a biomedical engineering major from Lawrenceburg, Indiana; and Kurtis A. Zimmerman, a triple major in computer science, software engineering, and mathematics from Shelbyville, Indiana.

  Alex Cochrane
  Alex Cochrane

Schwier also received the Herman A. Moench Distinguished Senior Commendation for being a commendable influence on members of the campus community. She was chosen by faculty and professional staff members after designing a thought-controlled wheelchair undergraduate research project, helping renovate a medical clinic in the Dominican Republic with Rose-Hulman’s Engineers Without Borders student chapter, and serving as a volunteer for the Terre Haute Children’s Museum, TREES Inc., and the Exotic Feline Rescue Center.

Alex Cochrane, an applied biology graduate from Bloomfield, Indiana received the John T. Royse Award for being the class’ most outstanding graduate. This honor is based on academic achievement, student leadership, participation in co-curricular activities, and general campus citizenship.

The Outstanding Graduate Thesis Award was presented to Cody M. Austin, who earned a master’s degree in biomedical engineering. The Fort Wayne native examined “The Effect of Loading Orientation on the Structural Properties of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament.”