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WELCOME FRESHMEN: An Orientation Address

September 10, 2011

FRESHMAN ORIENTATION ADDRESS
AUGUST 28, 2011
President Matt Branam

On behalf of the faculty, the staff and the student body of Rose-Hulman, I welcome you, the class of 2015. I welcome your families. I welcome your friends and I welcome you to our campus. I welcome you to our community, and I welcome you to our team. We are the engineers; WE ARE THE FIGHTING ENGINEERS OF ROSE-HULMAN!

We are on the move at Rose-Hulman. In a few days we will open a 17,000 square foot Student Innovation Center to house your student projects and headquarters for your engineering competition teams in a state-of-the-art building … because Rose Hulman is on the move!

Dr. Michio Kaku will be here to cut the ribbon and to speak to you about the importance of innovation … because Rose Hulman is on the move!

We recently broke ground on a 240-bed residence hall that some of you will come home to next year … Rose-Hulman is on the move!

This semester we are launching a new Center for Diversity and a new Center for Global Experiences so that all of our students will gain a better understanding of each other and the world … Rose-Hulman is on the move!

This Winter, we will be opening 5 new state-of-the art, multi-media classrooms in Myers Hall that will help make your learning experiences richer and more interactive … Rose Hulman is on the move!

And now, you the class of 2015, are about to begin a mind opening, exciting, fun, and challenging adventure.

We are on the move and so are you. Are you ready to join us? To become a part of Rose-Hulman?

Now, I want you all to stomp your feet as loud as you can …

That's the sound of Rose-Hulman on the move.

Congratulations, you made it. You are now one of us, part of the best undergraduate engineering college in the world.

Our Rose-Hulman Civil Engineering program is ranked number one.

Our Mechanical Engineering program is ranked number one.

Our Chemical Engineering program is ranked number one.

Our Electrical Engineering program is ranked number one.

Our Computer Engineering program is ranked number one.

Are you seeing a pattern here? All of our math, science and engineering programs are among the most innovative - anywhere.

We are very proud of what we do, we are proud of you, and your parents should be very proud that you are now one of us too. We all deserve a round of applause.

You may come from a small town in Indiana or the largest city in India. You may come from northern Minnesota or southern China. You may listen to country music, hip hop, or C-Pop (Chinese popular music for those of you who don't know). You may be an athlete, a musician, a computer geek or some combination of all three. You could be any shade of the human race, practice any religion, or speak in any native tongue. You could be straight or gay or undecided. We could even have Republicans and Democrats living in the same room! But whatever it is that makes you unique, we accept you and embrace you as one of us.

Differences are not threats here, they are learning opportunities. This is Rose-Hulman… a place where some of the brightest minds in the world come together to learn from each other. Great minds are not rigidly defined by small differences. They are open to the full expression of humankind.

And this class, the class of 2015, is unique. You are one of our most diverse classes with our largest class of female students and our largest group of international students. You hail from China, India, Nepal, Russia, Saudia Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, and Mongolia.  And you are from 36 of our United States and the District of Columbia.

You are among the BEST AND BRIGHTEST young people in the world. You are now a FIGHT'N ENGINEER! And we will do everything we can to help you succeed, participate, and express yourself in your own unique way.

We had a record number of applications this year from students hoping to be in the Class of 2015. Only 508 of you made it!

Your median high school GPA was 3.94.

36 of you earned a perfect math score on the SAT or ACT exam.

62 of you were ranked #1, #2, or #3 in your high school class.

55 of you have completed our FAST TRACK program having tested out of all freshman math, and will start next week as sophomores in your math sequence.

In a moment, I want you to turn to the people around you and introduce yourself. Don't simply greet them, but introduce yourself, learn their names and their faces, and commit to greeting them every time you see them over the course of the next days, weeks, and years.

Please, do that now.

You will be surprised that these new friends may well be your friends for the rest of your life.

Like you, with their superior education, work ethic and intellect, they will rise through the ranks of organizations. 25 years from now, you may see them in board rooms or making news with some great invention, or at the head a Rose-Hulman classroom teaching your children. AND you will know them by these first moments of friendship.

We at Rose-Hulman are dedicated to giving you a high return on your investment. During one of the worst job markets in history for recent college graduates, we have placed 96% of our recent graduates in their next challenge -- career or further education with an average starting salary over $60,000.

As a Rose graduate, companies will seek YOU. Our alumni are well-placed throughout America in many of the nation's best technological enterprises including NASA, GM, GE, Lilly, Cummins, Microsoft, Apple, and in many innovative green-tech ventures including solar, wind, and biofuels energy. And they report an average mid-career salary of over $100,000.

What's more, we graduate, more than 80 percent of our students. That compares to the National Average for engineering of only 50 percent. If we have done our job right in selecting this class, then all of you are capable of excelling at Rose.

Realize that, along the way, some of you will decide that engineering is just NOT for you. But if you find yourself debating whether to stay or go, I hope you will consider this -- training to be an engineer prepares you to excel at anything else you will try later in life.

We have alumni in politics, in medicine, in communications … some who preside as judges, who lead companies, who coach, who lead non-profit organizations … We have military generals … teachers and professors … one who plays professional baseball, and at least one who is a college president.

Whatever it is you want to be when you graduate, Rose will bring you closer to your goal, because reaching your dreams is hard. And, Rose will prepare you for that.

There may be times when you think that you can't make it. When you reach these moments, I hope you will reach out for help.

We know that you are smart enough. You know you are strong enough, and together we can do it. Don't let moments of confusion last too long. Whatever you do, avoid falling behind. It is really hard to catch up at Rose.

Our professors will help you in every way they can except one. They will NEVER make it easy for you. Many graduates refer to Rose as their mental boot camp. I personally attribute much my success to the mental training that I received here.

I took freshman physics with Dr. Moench (the man Moench Hall is named after) and I can tell you, without a doubt, that after surviving that class, nothing will ever intimidate me again or make me doubt my own intelligence. Not as a senior Vice President at UPS, not as the first COO of the American Red Cross, not when working with congressmen, senators, governors and presidents. And, not even when dealing with the brilliant faculty on this campus as their president. I can sit at a negotiating table, stare anyone in the eye, and smile, knowing in the back of my mind that I passed Moench's freshman physics class.

That kind of strength and confidence only comes from succeeding at this level. That kind of strength and confidence can't be awarded, it must be achieved. That's why Rose is hard, and that's why it is worth it.

I know you, and especially your parents, are looking for some economic certainty in this uncertain world.

Most of you will be well compensated for your efforts when you graduate. However, I can tell you that I understand how difficult your four-year investment at Rose will be for you and your family. Not just in financial resources, but in time, effort and sacrifice.

I want to assure our parents who are here that we are doing everything we can to control the cost of this education. I came to Rose-Hulman as a student 36 years ago. My parents had run the local home for dependent children--my family had no money for my education. I had no scholarships. I took no loans. I worked my way through Rose-Hulman working nights at UPS, and although I had to pay for my tuition by the week during some years, when I graduated, I was all paid up, and I had no loans to repay.

I know that my story would be impossible today because the economics just don't compute. So, I understand your commitment and I hope you understand my commitment to you. I will do everything I can to control costs and make Rose worth every penny of your investment.

But, in case there is any doubt let me review our commitment to you:

Our vision

We are the number one undergraduate engineering school in our class

And our strategy for making our vision a reality is powerful. Our strategy is to keep putting our faculty in front of our students 100% of the time, and to keep our staff behind our students 100% of the way.

All of our faculty have PhDs, and they all teach

We will maintain an active and robust agenda of co-curricular activities

A Rose-Hulman education will never become outdated

We do not just feed you information. We will make you stronger, more creative and more innovative. You will be able to think, communicate, solve problems, and learn anything. Your training will give you the confidence to solve any problem as well as anyone.

We will foster continuous growth in all of our community members

We will practice tolerance and encourage diversity

At Rose-Hulman, we will provide active, caring help while maintaining a supportive environment

That's a lot of commitment from us.

This is your institute now. It is a place with a million opportunities. But you must grab these opportunities!

Will you compete in athletics and win glory for yourself and your team? Will you compete in one of the engineering competitions such as Human Powered Vehicle, Eco Car, Solar Car or Design, Build, Fly? Will you influence high school students by working on the Homework Hotline? Will you work on a new innovation at Rose-Hulman Ventures that changes a life? Will you intern at a cutting-edge technology company? Will you serve the community with your brains and energy? Will you explore the world? Will you learn to lead others in student government or as an RA or SA?

This is a place where you can test yourself, take risks, find talents you didn't know you had, and discover the intellectual passion that will keep you excited for decades to come.

Now think for a moment. How will you get the most of this opportunity that your parents and your own hard work have provided?

Take Risks! Not hanging from your window by your feet or running across the lake when the ice is too thin. I mean take risks in your thinking, experimenting, development, writing, and homework.

This is your time to explore, not to follow the leader. Risk looking like a fool by joining in a game you have never played. Risk speaking in public. Risk dancing or singing. Risk talking to new people. Risk running for student government. Risk asking for a date with someone who is out of your league.

Risk taking you own idea and doing something with it. Remember that some of the greatest technological opportunities of our age-Google, Facebook, Dell, and Microsoft … were developed by full-time undergraduate students who had the guts and faith to follow their own ideas outside of the required courses.

Remember, the voluntary opportunities can be the most exciting, interesting, and ultimately most valuable part of your education. So reach for them. Take risks! And ask for help when you need it. You must step forward and say, "Yes, I will."

Can I get a shout out from the audience now?

Can I here you say, "YES I WILL."

At Rose-Hulman, we have a heritage to live up to. Our college was founded in 1874 by Chauncey Rose, an industrialist because he could not find the engineers he needed to build and operate his railroads, so he started his own college.

Chauncey needed well-educated leaders to run his business so he helped himself by building a college. In doing so, he helped his community. And, he helped thousands of others. This is a legacy of success that continues today.

Rose was the first school of its kind west of the Allegheny Mountains. Later, the land we are on now was donated by the Hulman Family, along with a significant endowment, and we changed our name to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. The Hulman family's Indianapolis Motor Speedway has seen many improvements in the technology of racing thanks to Rose graduates.

In fact, Tim Cindric, a 1990 Mechanical Engineering graduate is the President of Penske Racing, one of the most successful motorsports teams in history. Thanks in part to Tim's excellence in engineering, leadership and vision, the Speedway has no problem filling the seats on race days.

At Rose-Hulman Ventures, we actually incorporate innovation into our campus work opportunities. Ventures is a real-world innovation workshop where our interns, under the guidance of our professors, engage in real-world solutions to real-world problems in a fee-for-service environment. That means schedules, deadlines, budgets, and results. This summer Rose-Hulman Ventures interns worked for 21 different companies.

One student I spoke to said that he was losing faith in his choice to become an engineer. He didn't know why he was working so hard to learn so much seemingly useless information. Then he started at Ventures and it all made sense! It was exciting and fun and he was using all of his knowledge and then some! I hope we don't lose any of you before you have had this experience.

To illustrate what Ventures does, I want to share with you the story of Nico Bastolla. Nico made global headlines when he was just 8 months old.

Nico's mother, a pediatric nurse, knew something was seriously wrong with her child. He had a persistent rash on his face, he ate non-stop without gaining weight, and sometimes his eyes bulged in a blank stare. And although not immediately identified as a medical condition, he laughed constantly. His family called Nico, "captain giggles".

After tests, the family learned that Nico was suffering from a benign tumor deep inside his brain; the tumor was causing the laughing seizures and the other symptoms his mother had noted.

The treatment of choice for Nico was surgical removal of the tumor, but Nico was simply too small to undergo that kind of surgery. His head wasn't big enough to fit the surgical appliances.

His doctors proposed testing a neurosurgical device that was under development with the assistance of a Rose-Hulman Ventures team. Our team and the medical device company accelerated the design of the new minimally invasive tool which is uniquely capable of cutting, aspirating, and dissecting soft tissue tumors through a tiny incision - in a fraction of the time required for traditional surgery.

So, at 8 months of age, Nico underwent experimental surgery to remove the tumor with the prototype device designed by our students. The surgery was such a success that the only evidence of Nico's brain tumor today is a tiny scar on the healthy 7 year-olds' head. Nico's life was saved because a team of Rose students stuck with it! They applied their hard-earned skills and knowledge!

There are dozens of success stories like this coming out Rose-Hulman Ventures each year. But even if you do not work at Ventures, you will develop your own senior Capstone project. Last year, two of our bio-medical engineering students took on a project that created a robotic arm for a 5-year-old kindergartener who was born without functioning forearms or hands.

Little Michael had a birth defect leaving him with no forearms and only two tiny fingers on the end of each arm. It took our team of senior biomedical engineering students nine months of work before they could deliver the new robotic arm to the boy.  They spent many hours at his school, watching him play, taking measurements, creating schematics, debating options, trying prototypes …

Our engineers wanted to make it fun to operate, so they used a joystick that Michael could manipulate with his tiny fingers. As he began to operate the arm he got very excited and exclaimed to his mom, "It's really cool, like a robot arm! Mommy, can I keep it?"

Do you know what this team earned as their grade on this project? Does it matter?

You can quantify the value of a Rose-Hulman education in the high starting salaries our graduates are offered. In the exciting careers that follow. However, there is so much more that is not measurable - friends, mentors, adventures, experience, and especially the synergy that happens when all of this is mixed together here on our campus.

When I came to school here more than 30 years ago, Rose-Hulman was a very good engineering school. Thirteen years ago, we were recognized as the BEST in our class. Today, we are on the road to great; and we have our eyes fixed on setting the pace in creating a one of a kind integrated and innovative education experience for you.

Now you are part of our 137 year heritage. Your names will one day be written down in the list of alumni of the best undergraduate engineering school in the world. Before I send you off to your next session, let's begin to say good bye to your parents. Parents, you are the ones who should be proud. I want to recognize you for having done a fantastic job of preparing your student for college. I would like all parents of the class of 2014 to stand. Let's give them a round of applause for doing such a great job as a parent.

So, class of 2015, you know what you have gotten into … you know why you are here … and you are up to the task, or you wouldn't be here.

Rose-Hullman is what you make of it in the next four years. You need to make a strong commitment to us in order to succeed.

is to be the best in engineering, mathematics and science education, to have an impact upon the world in which we live, and to be a leader in every aspect of the delivery of education and the development of tomorrow's leaders.

And we will retain a sense of humor and remember to make it happen, and make it fun. . We will help students develop their leadership, team building, and interpersonal skills. And we will foster citizenship and service and encourage our students to use their talents for the betterment of society.. We will stimulate innovation and intellectual excitement. We will promote personal growth and encourage persistence, and self-discipline. because you will learn the universal basics of math, science and engineering. to ensure that our students are well-rounded citizens of the world. . You will never see a graduate assistant in front of a class. Your professor will never be too busy with his research to spend high quality time helping you.. Not because US News and World Report says so … we are best because we are different. We are unlike any other college or university because our innovations are not in research or new discoveries, but on improving education and the educational environment where you learn. We strive to discover the best way to prepare and improve our students from day one.