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IST graduates spring 2013This weekend will mark the undergraduate and graduate spring commencement ceremonies for our 2013 graduating students. On Saturday, we will have 132 students graduating from University Park with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Information Sciences and Technology and 56 students graduating from University Park with B.S. degree in Security and Risk Analysis. We will also be conferring degrees to five bachelor of science online degree students and one associate online degree student. In addition, there are 39 students graduating from our college with a B.S. degree in IST from various other campuses and 9 students graduating from our college with an A.S. degree in IST.

On Sunday at the graduate graduation ceremony, we will award diplomas to one student in the Master of Science (M.S.) program, one student in the Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Information Sciences, Software Development option program, four students in the MPS in Homeland Security, Information Security and Forensics program, and seven students in the Ph.D. program. The Ph.D. graduates will also be hooded during the event.

Each of these students and their supporting families and friends has worked hard to achieve this goal.  This is a cause for celebration and congratulations.  As faculty and staff we are very pleased that these students have achieved this goal and hope they will stay connected with Penn State and IST with frequent visits.

Our speaker for the undergraduate ceremony will be Dr. Mica Endsley.  We are particularly fortunate that Dr. Endsley has agreed to join us in these celebrations.  Dr. Endsley is president of SA Technologies, a cognitive engineering firm specializing in the analysis, design, measurement and training of situation awareness in advanced systems, including the next generation of systems for aviation, air traffic control, medical, power, military operations, homeland security, and cyber. She received a Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Southern California. Prior to forming SA Technologies, she was a visiting associate professor at MIT in the department of aeronautics and astronautics and associate professor of industrial engineering at Texas Tech University. She has authored more than 200 scientific articles on situation awareness, decision–making, and automation. She is co-author of Analysis and Measurement of Situation Awareness and Designing for Situation Awareness. She is the immediate past-president of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

While Dr. Endsley is not a Penn State alumnus, she has shown her support to Penn State and to IST by having her daughter, Tristan, join us in our Ph.D. program.

With the exception of the remarks by Dr. Endsley, the graduation ceremonies are tightly scripted—from the opening precession, to the singing of the national anthem, authorization to grant degrees by a representative of the Board of Trustees, to the degree ceremony, and ultimately the final procession, the event proceeds with well-defined steps.  The graduation speaker has a particular challenge.  They have limited time and must seek to provide a combination of congratulations, insight, and even inspiration.  This is not an easy task.  When I first became dean of the college, I was given the task of being the speaker for the graduate degree ceremony; a task that I learned is a kind of “right of passage” for new deans at Penn State.  While I have given literally hundreds of technical talks, this was one of the most challenging talks I ever did.  I won’t tell you how many drafts of the speech I threw away, especially after conferring with my wife as a trial audience.  I think the speech went well – I don’t remember now what I said, and I doubt the graduates did either.  In any event, it was a wonderful experience.

My role in Saturday’s graduation ceremony is a kind of “master of ceremonies” that is well scripted.  I look forward to the ceremony because of the joy of the students and their families and friends.  I especially look forward to my favorite line in the ceremony—when I get to say, “Please join me in congratulating our new graduates!”

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