Commencement Speakers

Past Speakers

2014 Spring Commencement Speakers

Leland D. Melvin

Leland D. Melvin, former NASA astronaut and associate administrator for education, was responsible for the development and implementation of the agency's education programs, strengthening involvement and awareness of the agency’s scientific goals and missions. He inspired interest in STEM through NASA's unique mission, workforce, facilities, research, and innovations.

Melvin began his NASA career in 1989 as an aerospace research engineer at the agency's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. He entered NASA's astronaut corps in 1998 and served as a mission specialist, operating the robotic arm on two space shuttle missions to the International Space Station: STS-122 in 2008 and STS-129 in 2009.

He serves on the White House National Science and Technology Council's Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education, or CoSTEM. CoSTEM coordinates STEM education and programs for all federal agencies, encourages the teaching of innovation and entrepreneurship, and develops and implements a five-year STEM education strategy for all federal agencies. He was the US representative on the International Space Education Board, a collaboration in space education between NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and the Centre National d'Études Spatiales.

Melvin earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Richmond, where he excelled as a wide receiver. He was an NCAA Division I Academic All American and was inducted into the University of Richmond Athletic Hall of Fame. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1986, also spending time with the Dallas Cowboys and Toronto Argonauts. After injuries sidelined his football career, he returned to academia and earned his Master of Science degree in Materials Science Engineering from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He holds honorary doctorates from Centre College, St Paul's College, and Campbellsville University.

Student Speaker—Collin Doerr-Newton

Hailing from Lansing, Collin Doerr-Newton plans on making plenty of noise. But this sound design major, in the midst of following his dreams, has consistently supported his peers and served others, helping their voices be heard, too.

As the 2013 recipient of the Percy Julian Award, Collin was recognized for promoting diversity and cultural understanding. This honor was earned through not only his work as a student supervisor in the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, but also by serving as an academic success coach, teaching assistant, and peer mentor for the Wahtera Center for Student Success.

In addition, Collin’s involvement with WMTU and the Society of African American Men, as well as work as a resident assistant for Housing and Residential Life, demonstrate a focus beyond his own dreams and a desire to help others achieve success.

On a path to graduate school and working in the recording industry, Collin has already completed internships with Harvest Creative Services in Lansing and DigiTrax Entertainment in Knoxville, Tennessee.

What will Collin remember most from his time at Tech? “Having an opportunity to meet and work with so many great people,” he says. With plenty more opportunities ahead, Collin’s is a voice that will be heard.

2013 Midyear Commencement Speakers

Scott Usitalo

Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy

As president of Kimberly-Clark’s North American Family Care division, Scott Usitalo oversees many of the world’s preeminent brands, including Scott, Viva, and Kleenex. Since joining Kimberly-Clark in 2008, he led the global resurgence of several of the Fortune 150 company paper products, not only through sound marketing, financial, and production management, but also through a deep commitment to the world’s consumers. “Bringing essentials to their daily lives is front and center of what I love to do,” he says.

It’s an approach he learned at a young age. When he was about twelve years old, Usitalo began working at the family gas station in South Range, where customer service was paramount. Three years later, he convinced his parents to open an auto body shop. The money he made fixing cars enabled him to fulfill his dream of attending Michigan Technological University. There, Usitalo earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering, nurtured his love of the arts, and served as president of Blue Key.

After graduating in 1981, Usitalo joined Procter & Gamble as an engineer in its Cheboygan paper plant and quickly rose through the ranks. Within ten years, he was assuming responsibilities in marketing as well as production and in 1997 helped earn the company an “Effie” advertising award. By 2004, he had spearheaded a successful global drive to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Procter & Gamble’s worldwide marketing efforts.

Usitalo was then recruited to help transform the greater Cincinnati area into a center for tourism, and in 2005 he became the founding president of the CincinnatiUSA Regional Tourism Network. By mobilizing government, business, and media, he implemented a strategy that resulted in healthy growth for the region’s hospitality industry.

Usitalo was introduced to Kimberly-Clark while working as a strategist with global innovation firm Seed Strategy. Within a year, he became a permanent part of the Kimberly-Clark team in a global marketing capacity. While Usitalo derives great satisfaction from his multi-national company work, he has not lost his enthusiasm for hands-on projects. In his spare time, he restores classic muscle and sports cars. He has eight in his collection.

Usitalo attributes his success in part to skills honed during his years at Michigan Tech: logical thinking arising from the study of engineering and leadership qualities learned in organizations like Blue Key. Underlying it all were the experiences of his youth, when he learned to treat everyone who walked through the door with respect. “My approaches to business and people were clearly born in that body shop,” he said.

Student Speaker—Felicia Nip

Originally hailing from Woodhaven, Michigan, Felicia Nip is wrapping up a distinctive undergraduate career today with her BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Her path to Michigan Tech began with Women in Engineering, a part of Tech’s Summer Youth Programs. Between that experience and being invited to the Leading Scholars Competition, Tech was soon at the top of her college list.

“My parents disliked the idea of going 600 miles away to a tiny engineering school,” she says. “They just didn’t know the magic of being a Husky—the adventure, the innovation, the ability to find something you love, do it, and be recognized as an individual.”

Then she got to Tech, she found that opportunities abounded not only in her studies, but also to get that extra edge. Between volunteering at Portage Health—where she had the chance to shadow a physician once a week—and being a first responder for the Michigan Tech EMS team, she’s one step ahead on her way to medical school.

While focusing on microscopic details in her studies, Felicia has lived the Tech experience to the fullest. She is on the executive board of the Honors Institute and is a member of the Pre-Health Association and Phi Sigma, the Biological Sciences Honor Society. She worked in the Applied Chemical and Morphological Analysis Laboratory, received a SURF award (summer undergraduate research fellowship), and was named the 2013 Winter Carnival Queen.

2013 Spring Commencement Speakers

David Barnes

Program Director, Strategy and Emerging Internet Technologies
IBM

David Barnes is a program director in IBM’s Emerging Technologies group and the lead technology evangelist at IBM. As a self-described nonconformist working in one of the world’s largest technology companies, Barnes has spent more than two decades traveling the world to evangelize the virtues of new and emerging technologies and their potential effects on society. Always looking for ways to share his passion for leading-edge technology, he has been mentoring interns at the IBM Extreme Blue innovation lab for nearly ten years. He takes great joy in helping college students develop their skills and revels in their energetic, creative approaches to emerging technology.

Barnes was born in Traverse City and raised in Bridgman, a small farming community in southern Michigan. His father ran a radio and television business, and from grade school on he was immersed in electronics, learning to work with an oscilloscope at the age of eight. Those early skills landed him a job as an IBM field engineer when he was nineteen.

He had a love for the job—carrying a toolbox and oscilloscope while fixing mainframe computers—but it wasn’t until he was asked to give a presentation on a new IBM product to a customer executive that he found his passion. Looking back, he remembers how the experience “made me tingle, and things were never the same.” Before long, Barnes was bombarded with requests to speak to larger and larger audiences, and he soon became IBM’s first technology evangelist.

As technology evolved, so did Barnes. He began his journey with the introduction of the IBM PC, helped pioneer the World Wide Web when he declared on television in 1995 that “the Internet is not just some pie-in-the-sky kind of thing,” achieved patents in voice recognition and natural language understanding, and is now a lead spokesperson for IBM's Watson. The supercomputer gained fame for its championship performance on the quiz show Jeopardy!; IBM is now applying its unparalleled computing power in an even more challenging arena: medical diagnosis and treatment.

Over the last twenty-five years, Barnes has traveled to nearly forty countries, presenting to audiences ranging from executives to developers to heads of state, appearing on radio and television shows around the world, and becoming a member of the Screen Actors Guild while starring in a series of IBM TV commercials titled “The Warped World of David Barnes.”

Through all of this, his love for technology has only grown. Barnes geeks-out for gadgets and street photography and enjoys hacking at code whenever he can find the time.

Student Speaker—Katherine Price

From Brighton, Michigan, Katherine Price is an environmental engineering graduate, and she is leaving Michigan Tech after being heavily involved on and off campus. She also has maintained a GPA of nearly 4.0.

She had Michigan Tech in her blood from birth: her grandparents, Sherwood and Marion Price, taught at Michigan Tech, and her father, Ken, is an alumnus.

Her Women in Engineering experience in high school helped her decide on environmental engineering, she says. Price has been a summer intern twice with General Motors, in Spring Hill, Tennessee, and Hamtramck, Michigan. She has been involved with a Senior Design project: "Designing a Micro Hydroelectric Power System" (including a visit to a remote village in Panama).

Price has also been a teaching assistant for a first-year student success course, an Orientation Team Leader, a coach in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Learning Center, and an Admissions tour guide.

Her extracurricular involvement includes the Society of Women Engineers, Women's Soccer Club, Young Women Leaders Program, Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, Blue Key Honor Society, Society of Environmental Engineers, Innovative Create Engage Leadership Society, Homecoming Court Representative, and Superior Wind Symphony.

2012 Midyear Commencement Speakers

Dr. Arden L. Bement Jr.

Director of the Global Policy Research Institute
Purdue University

 Arden Bement embodies the scholar famously described in The Canterbury Tales, for “gladly would he learn, and gladly teach.”

His career spans industry, government, and academia. Bement is now the director of the Global Policy Research Institute at Purdue University, where he can satisfy his desire to teach while addressing issues of worldwide significance. He first came to Purdue in 1993 as the Basil S. Turner Distinguished Professor of Engineering and later became head of the School of Nuclear Engineering. He left the university in 2001 to lead the National Institute of Standards and Technology and in 2004 was named director of the National Science Foundation, a position he held until 2010.

 Bement is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has served on the US National Commission for UNESCO and as the vice chair of the Commission’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Committee. Bement is also a retired lieutenant colonel of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

After earning a doctorate in metallurgical engineering from the University of Michigan, he held R&D positions with General Electric and Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratories. In 1970 he joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty as a professor of nuclear materials. He then accepted a position in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency before being appointed deputy under-secretary for research and engineering by the US Department of Defense. In 1980 he became a vice president at TRW Inc., where he served for thirteen years before joining the Purdue faculty.

Bement’s winding career path was a deliberate and natural choice for someone both committed to lifelong learning and dedicated to the betterment of humanity. As he says, “I have always wanted to stay on the steep end of the learning curve.”

Student Speaker—Justin T. Jones

Justin T. Jones was raised in the Keweenaw and graduated from the Copper Country Christian School in 2008, enrolling in Michigan Tech that fall.

While at Tech, he has been a member of the Cin/Optic Communication and Media Enterprise for four years. Through the Enterprise, he worked with filmmaker Suzanne Jurva ’82 on Yoopera!, a documentary chronicling the commission and Houghton premier of the original opera Rockland and how the performance was promoted by a local community art project called “Storylines.”

In April, Jones and fellow student Andrew Benda had a short film entitled Ouroboro make the finals in the Hint Fiction Film competition at the Vail Film Festival.

This summer, Jones worked for Summer Youth Programs as an event photographer and instructor. He is currently working for Mind Trekkers as a videographer and editor, and he has worked for University Marketing and Communications as a graphic designer. Jones has also worked in the Humanities Digital Media Zone as a lab consultant since 2009.

Today he is receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Culture, and Media.

2012 Spring Commencement Speaker

Martha N. Sullivan

Martha N. Sullivan, who earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1985, has steadily ascended the corporate ladder.

She was named president of Sensata Technologies in 2010, in addition to her role as chief operating officer and director of several of Sensata's operating subsidiaries. Previously she was executive vice president and chief operating officer, a position she had held since Sensata was purchased by Bain Capital from Texas Instruments in 2006.

Martha joined Texas Instruments in 1984 and held various management positions, including vice president of Sensor Products from 1997 to 2006. During her tenure, Sensor experienced ten consecutive years of growth.

Sensata Technologies is one of the world's leading suppliers of sensing, electrical protection, control, and power management solutions. The company, with revenues of $1.8 billion, has manufacturing and technology development centers in eleven countries and employs 11,500 people.

Martha has been involved at Kettering University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and she is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers.

She has also been a speaker and panelist for a range of industrial and academic gatherings, including the Ernst and Young China Business Roundtable and the Morgan Stanley Executive Women's Conference. She was the keynote speaker in 2004 at RPI's "Design Your Future Day." In 2011, she took part in a panel on entrepreneurship at Michigan Tech. She is a volunteer for Odyssey of the Mind, a national academic program for youth from kindergarten to college.

Since her graduation from Michigan Tech, Martha has maintained a close relationship with the University. She is a member of the Presidential Council of Alumnae, has been inducted into the Academy of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, and serves on Michigan Tech's Generations of Discovery Campaign, which strives to raise $200 million to enable Michigan Tech to realize its goal of being an institution of world-class stature. Martha's extensive work in Europe and Asia helps inform that vision.

She and her spouse, Michael, have two children and live in Westport Point, Massachusetts.

2011 Midyear Commencement Speaker

Chang K. Park

Chang Park is an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, a social activist, and a visionary. He is the president and CEO of Universal Remote Control Inc., headquartered in Harrison, New York, a world leader in technology, innovation, and quality.

Born and raised in Korea, he came to the US as a teenager, alone, to pursue an education. He soon developed an interest in mathematics—the only language he could understand in his new homeland. As a high school student, he won a New York State mathematics award, a hint of what was to come.

Mr. Park enrolled at Michigan Tech and graduated in 1973 with dual degrees in electrical engineering and engineering administration. In his first job after graduation, he worked for an engineering consulting firm in Philadelphia, designing and reviewing mass transit systems, including the Washington Metro System, the BART System in San Francisco, and the Northeast Corridor between Boston and New York.

He went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, then joined JP Morgan in New York, working in international finance. His eight years working in the corporate world and his early life in Korea laid the groundwork for Mr. Park’s entrepreneurial spirit. The business he started in his sister's garage also provided jobs for youths in an impoverished area in Korea. He steadily expanded the business, and he has been developing and marketing remote controls and home automation products for more than twenty years.

He chairs the Chang K. Park Foundation, an organization that supports human rights, the elimination of poverty and hunger, the implementation of political reform, and economic justice.

He is a member of the national governing board of Common Cause, a public interest group in Washington, DC, that operates thirty-five state chapters promoting ethics and reform in government. He also is a member of the board at the Union Theological Seminary in New York.

2011 Spring Commencement Speaker

Mr. Norman R. Augustine

Former Chairman, Lockheed Martin, and Former Undersecretary of the Army

Norman Augustine has been a leader of industry, a devoted servant of government and society, and a visionary.

His reputation and stature as a businessman and engineer led to his being named chair of a committee, formed by The National Academies, which in 2005 presented to Congress a report titled, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future." The document analyzed America's strengths and weaknesses in science, technology, engineering and math—the STEM fields—and outlined what the US needs to do "to compete in this rough and tumble global environment."

Mr. Augustine started his industrial career in 1958 at Douglas Aircraft Company. He became CEO and chairman of both Martin Marietta Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. He retired in 1997. He began his government service in 1965 in the office of the Secretary of Defense. In 1973, he became assistant secretary of the Army; in 1975, he became undersecretary of the Army; and he later became acting secretary of the Army.

Mr. Augustine has headed the National Academy of Engineering, the Association of the United States Army, the Aerospace Industries Association, the Defense Science Board, the American Red Cross, and the Boy Scouts of America.

Other government service includes membership on the advisory board of the Department of Homeland Security and on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

He also is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Council on Foreign Affairs. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Explorers Club.

His work has taken him to more than 100 countries, and he has stood on both the North and South Poles of the Earth. His achievements and recognitions have been equally extensive.

He has received the National Medal of Technology from the President of the United States and the Distinguished Public Service Award from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He has received the Department of Defense's highest civilian decoration, the Distinguished Service Medal, five times. He is author or coauthor of four books about military policy; the pitfalls that confront business managers; ethical standards in business; and how Shakespeare informs sound, successful leadership.

He has been singled out by "Who's Who in America"—and by the Library of Congress as one of "Fifty Great Americans" on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of "Who's Who."

A native of Colorado, he earned bachelor's and master's degrees, magna cum laude, in aeronautical engineering from Princeton University, where he taught for two years after retiring.

2010 Midyear Commencement Speaker

US Rep. Bart Stupak

Bart Stupak’s working life has been devoted to public service.

He was elected in 1992 to represent Michigan’s First Congressional District in the US House of Representatives and will retire in January. Prior to national office, he was a member of the Michigan State Legislature, a police officer in Escanaba, Michigan, and a member of the Michigan State Police.

Mr. Stupak lives in Menominee, Michigan. He earned an associate’s degree from Northwestern Michigan Community College in 1972, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Saginaw Valley State University in 1977, and a doctor of law degree from Thomas Cooley Law School.

Mr. Stupak was a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and, as the ranking democrat, chair of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. He spearheaded investigations of child pornography, cyber security, food and drug safety, the insurance industry, and vehicle safety.

Health care for Americans has been a priority ever since elected to Congress, when he pledged not to accept the insurance that members of Congress receive until all Americans could have access to that same quality health care. He kept that promise. A signature priority for Mr. Stupak was protecting the Great Lakes. He led the international effort to ban the sale and diversion of the Great Lakes and was the first elected official to oppose the drilling for oil and gas beneath the Great Lakes. He also successfully opposed the proposal to dump partially treated waste into the waterways.

His experience as a police officer allowed him to take a leadership role on law enforcement issues. He founded and cochaired the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus, a bipartisan organization that provides the law enforcement community with an avenue to participate in the legislative process.

He also has been a leader in homeland security, in particular programs to train and equip local law enforcement officers and other first responders, as well as facilitate communication across jurisdictions during emergency and potential terrorist situations.

Because his district was positioned on the northern border, Mr. Stupak was cochair of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus. In that work, he advocated border security and cross-border trade. He has been singled out by the Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance for his contributions and leadership. Congressional leaders have cited Mr. Stupak for his sense of justice and fair play, knowledge of congressional procedures, and his inclination to rise above partisanship.

He has been an effective champion of Upper Michigan, a devoted public servant, and a person of high regard.

2010 Spring Commencement Speaker

Dr. Raymond L. Smith

Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction

Ray Smith, a native of Maine who now lives in Arizona, was the sixth president of Michigan Tech, serving from 1965 to 1979.

Under his leadership, the institution grew in size and stature. A man of ambition and vision, Smith's abiding guide was, "We must not be afraid to move ahead."

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in 1943. He served in the US Army from 1943 to 1946, then taught at the University of Alaska from 1946 to 1949. He returned to school and earned both a master’s and doctorate in metallurgical and materials engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1951 and 1953, respectively.

For the next six years, he worked at the Franklin Institute Research Laboratories. In 1959, he came to Michigan Tech as professor and department chair of metallurgy, and, later, coordinator of research. Six years later, he was president. During his tenure, ten major buildings were constructed. (The Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Building is named after him.) As well, he excelled in legislative affairs, founded Tech’s current fundraising unit, and promoted research.

Smith has received honorary doctorates from Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan University, Western Michigan University, and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. He also has been honored by the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Alaska.

He is a fellow of both the American Society of Metals and the Metallurgical Society, and he has been recognized as a national authority on minerals and metals. His research led to the development of some of the purest iron in the world.

Smith has served on several national engineering boards and commissions. His associations include Michigan’s Council of Postsecondary Education; the Argonne National Laboratory; Michigan’s Solar Energy Research Institute; and the American Academy of Transportation.

In his retirement, Smith and some friends locate hazardous mining sites in Arizona. They pinpoint the location, record data on the environment and wildlife, and erect safety signs. Smith says the group shares a "love of the desert and the never-ending quest for minerals."

Such passion always informed his leadership at Michigan Tech, and we welcome him back.

2009 Midyear Commencement

George J. Butvilas

George Butvilas is president and CEO of Quincy Hill Advisors, which provides financial institution consulting services to the banking community and the FDIC. Mr. Butvilas has over thirty-five years of banking experience. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Citizens Republic Bancorp Inc. (the largest bank holding company headquartered in Michigan). As well, he is on the bank’s Executive Committee and is chair of the Risk Management Committee. He previously served as vice chair and director of Republic Bancorp, headquartered in Lansing, Michigan. Mr. Butvilas served as president and chief executive officer of D&N Bank from 1990 to 1999, at which time it merged with Republic Bancorp. Prior to coming to the Keweenaw, he spent seventeen years in banking in the Chicago metro area.

Mr. Butvilas has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Michigan Tech Fund since 1997. He currently serves as chair. In 2002, President Bush appointed him to the Board of Directors of the Veterans Corporation in Washington DC, where he served as chair and director. In 2005, he received the Michigan Tech Honorary Alumni Award. He is a member of the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science Honor Academy and is the former chair of the School’s Advisory Board. He also is a member of the School of Business and Economics Honor Academy and has served as chair of the School’s Applied Portfolio Management Program, Michigan Tech’s student investment initiative. He is currently a director of the Michigan Tech Golf Course Advisory Board. In addition, he served as chair of the Houghton/Hancock Local Development Authority, which established the Michigan Tech Enterprise SmartZone.

Mr. Butvilas has been involved in numerous other civic and philanthropic activities, including the Better Government Association of Chicago, the Calumet Theatre, Omega House, Pine Mountain Music Festival, the Michigan Tech Campaign Committee, and many others.

Mr. Butvilas is a 1967 graduate of the US Naval Academy and is a Vietnam veteran. He received his MBA from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago in 1974 and taught in the MBA program there as an adjunct assistant professor for seventeen years. He graduated from the Advanced Management Program of the Harvard University Graduate School of Business in 1987.

2009 Spring Commencement Speaker

Otha Thornton

Otha Thornton is a native of Georgia who completed the Army’s Officer Candidate School in 1990. He is presidential communications officer and director of human resources at the White House Communications Agency.

He has had numerous postings in military intelligence and human resources. From 1999 to 2002, he was a recruiter, public affairs officer, and assistant professor of military science at Michigan Tech, where he earned a master’s degree in rhetoric and technical communication in 2001. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from Morehouse College in 1989.

Thornton has been to seven military schools and has received many awards for exceptional service.

He is married to the former Caryn Dukes of Atlanta, Georgia; they have two children.

Thornton received Michigan Tech’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 2003; was named the Scout Leader of the Year by the Hiawathaland Council in 2002; and the Parting of the Water Faculty Service Award from the Tech chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa in 2001.

2008 Midyear Commencement Speaker

Susann Blake Nordrum

Susann Blake Nordrum has taken a Michigan Tech education and fashioned a career as an international leader who confronts one of humankind’s most compelling challenges—climate change.

Nordrum graduated summa cum laude in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. She is facilities team manager at Chevron Energy Technology Company in Richmond, California.

 She began her career at Chevron as a process engineer. For the past ten years she has worked on the issue of climate change. Currently, Nordrum manages greenhouse gas mitigation for the company’s refining, production, and power-generation facilities in California as the state prepares to implement a program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. She expects the endeavor will become a global model.

The mitigation effort results from her extensive work on how to inventory greenhouse gas emissions. In developing that process, she became a company leader with Chevron; a national leader with the American Petroleum Institute; and an international leader with the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association.

Her work and stature resulted in her being chosen to serve on the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), where she was one of the lead authors to update the UN’s 2006 guidelines for developing national greenhouse gas inventories.

For this work, the IPCC group shared, along with former Vice President Al Gore, the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, which cited the group for compiling and disseminating information about man-made climate change to lay the groundwork for informed policy making.

The prize recognized not just IPCC directors, but the leading contributors as well, including Nordrum, who was the co-author of the chapter on carbon dioxide capture and storage and the lead author of another chapter on the “fugitive emissions” produced when making petroleum products.

Nordrum says that the use of fossil fuels to meet the world's energy needs is a contributor to an increase in greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere. There is a widespread view that this increase is leading to climate change, with adverse effects on the environment. The work of the IPCC helped inform the world that climate change and greenhouse gases may pose serious problems, and it will take intensive collaboration to solve them.

Nordrum has moved from measuring the problem to working on these solutions. Her goal is simply “to help facilities and regulators come to agreement on the most cost-effective means to provide necessary energy in a climate-friendly manner.” The work draws on her keen interest in both “environmental stewardship” and “developing new technologies.”

2008 Spring Commencement Speaker

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI)

US Senator Carl Levin has served Detroit, Michigan, and America for more than forty years.

A native of the Motor City, he studied at Swarthmore College and Harvard University, where he earned a law degree.

He practiced and taught law for five years until he was appointed an assistant attorney general of Michigan in 1964.

His political career began in 1969, when he won election to the Detroit City Council. In 1978 he was elected to the US Senate and has been reelected four times.

He is chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee; co-chair of the Senate's Great Lakes Task Force; chair of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations; and a member of both the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

He was honored with the Department of the Navy's Distinguished Service Award in 2003; the National Guard Association's Harry S. Truman Award in 2004; the government of Poland's Commander's Cross in 2007; and the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute's Four Freedoms Medal in 2007./p>

Levin has been a champion for both Michigan and the nation in advancing the economy, consumer protection, the environment, corporate reform, national security, and education.

In particular, he has worked to strengthen America's industrial economy; to open global markets to American goods; to protect the Great Lakes; to improve medical care for troops and veterans; to establish credit-card reform; to eliminate excessive speculation in the energy industry; to curb abusive tax shelters; and to support education, from preschool to college.

Levin is the senior senator from Michigan. He was born in 1934. He and his wife Barbara married in 1961. They have three daughters.

2007 Midyear Commencement Speaker

Dr. Bhakta B. Rath

Dr. Bhakta B. Rath, class of '58, is an internationally recognized scientist who has had a stellar career in national security and in defense initiatives worldwide.

Dr. Rath is senior executive at the US Department of Defense. He is head of the Materials Science and Component Technology Directorate and associate director of research at the Naval Research Laboratory.

He is responsible for a wide array of inquiry, including the planning, supervision, and administration of all basic and applied research in the structure of matter, condensed-matter physics, chemistry, electronics, materials science, plasma physics, computational physics, fluid dynamics, and biomolecular science and technology. He oversees a staff of 720 scientists, engineers, support personnel, postdoctoral fellows, visiting professors, and students. The directorate manages over three hundred research projects with an annual budget of $280 million.

Following his undergraduate studies in India, Dr. Rath earned a master's in metallurgical and materials engineering from Michigan Tech. He earned his PhD from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1961. He joined the Naval Research Laboratory in 1976. He has served as the principal engineer in solving a number of technical problems of national importance, ranging from the structural integrity of fighter aircraft to protecting soldiers against IEDs. He has created, among others, a Center for BioMolecular Science and Engineering, a Center for Safety and Survivability, a Center for Computational Materials Science, and the Institute of Nanoscience.

Dr. Rath is a prolific author, a prominent scholar, an award-winning researcher, and a speaker worldwide. He serves on several government agencies, is involved with seven universities, and is a member of five technical societies.

He has been a leader nationally and internationally in developing collaborations among academia, industry, and research laboratories. He also promotes science, engineering, and mathematics education in high schools in the US and abroad.

His many awards include election to Michigan Tech's Academy of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering (1998). He also has been honored by The American Society of Materials, the Naval Research Laboratory, the Department of Defense, and numerous professional and scholarly organizations.

2007 Spring Commencement Speaker

Dr. Josephine K. "Jody" Olsen

Josephine “Jody” Olsen has spent much of her life and career serving the world through the Peace Corps, America's outreach to promote service, global peace, and friendship.

As the deputy director of the agency, Olsen supports several initiatives, including strengthening the recruitment of older volunteers, measuring the impact of the Peace Corps around the world, and helping other countries promote volunteerism among their own populations.

Olsen started her career with the Peace Corps as a volunteer from 1966–68 in Tunisia, teaching English and developing community health programs. In 1979, she was named the country director for Togo, where she managed programs focused on education, health, and agriculture in the West African nation. From 1981–84, she served as regional director in North Africa, the Near East, Asia, and the Pacific. As chief of staff from 1989–1992, after the fall of the Soviet Union, she helped to expand the agency’s work to twenty-five new countries.

Olsen then served as senior vice president of the Academy for Educational Development, a large international organization, and served as the executive director for the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, the agency responsible for managing the Fulbright Senior Scholar Program.

President George W. Bush appointed Olsen deputy director of the Peace Corps in 2002. She was confirmed by the US Senate.

Olsen earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Utah and a master's degree in social work and a doctoral degree in education from the University of Maryland, where she founded and directed the Center on Aging.

2006 Midyear Commencement Speaker

John Soyring

John A. Soyring, a native son of Upper Michigan, has a large presence in a preeminent business. He is Vice President of Global Solutions and Software at IBM Corporation, the world’s top provider of computer products and services. John provides global business leadership for a multi-billion-dollar annual revenue portion of the IBM software business. He has comprehensive responsibilities, providing leadership for strategy, research and development, marketing and sales, business development, product support, and services.

John previously was Vice President and Senior Executive for IBM Software Services and Support, which is a global business unit with the mission of developing and delivering professional services for IBM’s clients and business partners.

During his long career with IBM, John also has held a variety of technical, professional, managerial, and executive positions for wide-ranging services, including several worldwide software initiatives.

John, who is from Marquette, Michigan, joined IBM in 1976 after graduating from Michigan Tech with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering. He later completed graduate studies in the fields of computer science, electrical engineering, and business administration at the University of Minnesota and at State University of New York.

As a Tech student, John served as a resident assistant for two years, was a member of Eta Kappa Nu, the electrical engineering honor society, and was recognized as a student leader by the Scott Paper Company Foundation.

As an alumnus, he serves on Tech’s Electrical Engineering Academy and the College of Engineering Industrial Advisory Board.

2006 Spring Commencement Speaker

Susan Brechting Kiehl

Susan Brechting Kiehl, a native of Spring Lake, Michigan, has worked at Lockheed Martin Corp. for nearly twenty-two years, having joined the firm (then General Dynamics) in 1984.

Lockheed Martin is an advanced technology company headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, and employs 135,000 people worldwide. Kiehl works for the firm's Aeronautics Co. in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kiehl joined Lockheed Martin as a metallurgical engineer. She became engineering chief, then an engineering manager, and moved into business development and served as both a manager and director.

In 2001, she was selected for Lockheed Martin's Senior Leadership Development Program and, in 2002, its Executive Leadership Development Program.

She now leads the company's Greece F-16 Programs, an initiative that supplies thirty F-16 fighter jets to that government. Kiehl is responsible for the design, construction, and delivery of the aircraft, called Fighting Falcons, as part of a U.S. government program. The project extends through 2009. Kiehl leads a twelve-person team.

In 1983, she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Metallurgical Engineering from Michigan Tech. She also has an MBA in Engineering Management from the University of Dallas.

Kiehl remains an active Michigan Tech alumna. She serves on the Industrial Advisory Board of the College of Engineering and is a member of the Presidential Council of Alumnae.

Kiehl's family has many ties to Michigan Tech. Her grandfather, Gilly Boyd, taught at Tech; her father, Frank Brechting, earned two bachelor's degrees and a master's degree from Tech; and her brother, Frank, also graduated from Tech.

Kiehl is involved in church activities and Alzheimer's work. She runs marathons and relishes what she calls “the joys of children.” She and her husband, Brad, have three, Sam, Lilli, and Isabelle. The family resides in Fort Worth.

2000-2003 Commencement Speakers

2003 Midyear Commencement

Ms. Julie A. Fream—Class of 1983
Vice President, DaimlerChrysler North America, Customer Business Group, and Visteon Corporation

2003 Spring Commencement

Gary E. Andreson—Class of 1967
Chairman and CEO, Dow Corning Corporation

2002 Midyear Commencement

Senator Donald Koivisto
Michigan Senate, 38th District

2002 Spring Commencement

Dr. Charlie Chu-Chuan—Class of '67 & '71
Founder and President, Chen-Tech Taiwan Industries, Corp.

2001 Midyear Commencement

Dr. Kenneth E. Rowe—Class of 1952
Retired, Health Officer and Medical Director, Western U.P. District Health Department and Dickinson-iron District Health Department

2001 Spring Commencement

John D. Opie—Class of 1961
Retired Vice Chairman of the Board and Executive Officer, General Electric Company

2000 Midyear Commencement

James A. Mack—Class of 1959
President and CEO, Cambrex Corporation

2000 Spring Commencement

Dr. Robert D. Carnahan—Class of 1953
President, CEO, and Executive Director, Thixomat, Inc.

1990-1999 Commencement Speakers

1999 Midyear Commencement

Senator John J. H. Schwarz, M.D.
24th District, R-Battle Creek

1999 Spring Commencement

James A. Klungness—Class of 1949
Owner, Superior Aviation

1998 Midyear Commencement

William J. Ivey
Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts

1998 Spring Commencement

Philip Lader
US Ambassador to the Court of St. James's US Embassy

1997 Midyear Commencement

Dr. Jerry Linenger
NASA Astronaut

1997 Spring Commencement

M. Thomas Moore
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Cleveland-Cliffs, Inc.

1996 Midyear Commencement

Richard J. Robbins—Class 1956
Vice Chairman, Atlas Copco Robbins Company

1996 Spring Commencement

Albert A. Matthews—Class of 1936
President, Al Mathews Corp.

1995 Midyear Commencement

David L. House—Class of 1965
Senior Vice President and General Manager, Enterprise Server Group, Intel Corporation

1995 Spring Commencement

Dawn Marie Zarling—Class of 1995
Bachelor of Science Degree in Biological Sciences, Michigan Technological University

1994 Midyear Commencement

William C. Verrette—Class of 1961
President, Champion, Inc and Chairman of the board, Gundlach Champion, Inc., and Charter,Inc.

1994 Spring Commencement

Dr. Martha E. Sloan
Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering, Michigan Technological University

1993 Midyear Commencement

Eric Mittelstadt
President and CEO, FANUC Robotics North America, Inc.

1993 Spring Commencement

John O. Vartan—Class of 1970
Chairman, Vartan Enterprises

1992 Midyear Commencement

Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar
NASA Astronaut

1992 Spring Commencement

Dr. Charles M. Vest
President, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1991 Midyear Commencement

Octavio Lacombe—Class of 1949
CEO of Paranapanema S.A. in Sao Paulo, Brazil

1991 Spring Commencement

Lewis N. Dodak
Speaker, Michigan House of Representatives

1990 Midyear Commencement

Joseph M. Warren—Class of 1959
Vice President–Europe, 3M Corporation

1990 Spring Commencement

Donald E. Peterson
Former Chair of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Ford Motor Company

1980-1989 Commencement Speakers

1989 Midyear Commencement

Dr. Jeanette G. Grasselli
Distinguished Visiting Professor and Director of Research Enhancement, Ohio University

1989 Spring Commencement

Rosa Louise Parks
Mother of the Modern Day Civil Rights Movement

1988 Midyear Commencement

Helen O. Petrauskas
Vice President of Environmental and Safety Engineering, Ford Motor Company

1988 Spring Commencement

Dr. Herber A. Simon
Professor of Computer Science and Pyschology, Carnegie-Mellon University

1987 Midyear Commencement

John D. Opie—Class of 1961
Senior Vice President and Group Executive Lighting Business Group, General Electric Co.

1987 Spring Commencement

Dr. David W. Adamany
President, Wayne State University

1986 Midyear Commencement

Julius J. Harwood
Vice President of Energy Conversion Devices, Inc.; President of Ovonic Synthetic Materials Co.; Member of Board of Control

1986 Spring Commencement

F. James McDonald
President of General Motors Corporation

1985 Midyear Commencement

Dr. Gordon E. Moore
Chairman of the Board, Intel Corporation

1985 Spring Commencement

Forrest N. Shumway
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Signal Companies, Inc.

1984 Midyear Commencement

Dr. Louis Robinson
Director of University Relations, IBM Corporation

1984 Spring Commencement

Dr. George A. Keyworth II
Science Advisor to the President and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy

1983 Midyear Commencement

Major General Oscar C. Decker, Jr.
Retired, U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Command

1983 Spring Commencement

Dr. Robert A. Frosch
Vice President, General Motors Corporation, GM Research Laboratories

1982 Midyear Commencement

The Honarable Governor William G. Milliken
Governor, State of Michigan

1982 Spring Commencement

Dr. William N. Hubbard
President, Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company

1981 Midyear Commencement

Thomas J. Rentenbach
Chairman, Board of Directors, Rentenbach Engineering Company

1981 Spring Commencement

Dr. Melvin Calvin—Class of 1931
Director and University Professor of Chemistry, Laboratory of Chemical Biodynamics, University of California, Berkeley

1980 Midyear Commencement

Dr. Raymond L. Smith
President Emeritus, Michigan Technological University

1980 Spring Commencement

Dr. Harold T. Shapiro
President, University of Michigan

1970-1979 Commencement Speakers

1979 Midyear Commencement

Harold S. Jensen—Class of 1952
Partner, Metropolitan Structures

1979 Spring Commencement

Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt
President, American Medical Building

1978 Midyear Commencement

Nathan E. Promisel
Formerly with National Materials Advisory Board and also Consultant to Governement and Industry

1978 Spring Commencement

Alice E. Hennessey
Vice President and Corporate Secretary, Boise Cascade Corporation

1977 Midyear Commencement

Charles C. Huston—Class of 1930
Consulting Mining Engineer, C. C. Huston & Associates

1977 Spring Commencement

Dr. Heinrich Mandel
Director, Rheinisch-Westfalischen Elektrizitswerkes

1976 Midyear Commencement

Dr. W. Dale Compton
Vice PresidentResearch, Ford Motor Co.

Spring 1976

Dr. Ivar Giaever
Biophysicist, Physical Science Branch, General Electric Co. Research and Development Center

1975 Midyear Commencement

Charles C. Gates
President and Chairman of the Board, The Gates Rubber Co.

1975 Spring Commencement

Norma Pace
Vice President, American Paper Institute

1974 Midyear Commencement

Chester O. Ensign
President and Chief Executive Officer, Copper Range Company

1974 Spring Commencement

Soichiro Honda
President, Honda Motor Company, Ltd.

1973 Midyear Commencement

Dr. Kenneth J. Shouldice
President, Lake Superior State College

1973 August Commencement

Kemmons Wilson
Chariman of Bd., Holiday Inns, Inc.

1973 June Commencement

Walter J. Hickel
Businessman(Former Gov. of Alaska and former Secretary of the Interior)

1973 March Commencement

Dr. Donald K. Slayton
NASA Astronaut

1972 December Commencement

William Veeser—Class of 1949
Vice President, Upper Peninsula Power Co.

1972 August Commencement

F. John McMulkin—Class of 1937
Vice President—Research, Dominion Foundries & Steel, Ltd

1972 June Commencement

Dr. Daniel P. Moynihan
Harvard University

1972 March Commencement

James A. Black
President, General Research, Inc.

1971 December Commencement

Herman Gundlach
Herman Gundlach, Inc.

1971 August Commencement

Adrian Kantrowitz. M.D.
Chairman, Deptartment of Surgery, Sinai Hospital

1971 June Commencement

Eric Hoffer
Longshoreman and Writer

1971 March Commencement

Julius J. Harwood

1970 December Commencement

Russell F. Hoyer

1970 August Commencement

Dr. Martin J. Caserio
Vice President and General Manager, General Motors Corp

1970 June Commencement

Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg
Chairman, US Atomic Energy Commission

1970 March Commencement

No Speaker

1962-1969 Commencement Speakers

1969 December Commencement

Dr. James A. Kent

1969 August Commencement

James K. Richardson
Vice President, Copper Range Co.

1969 June Commencement

Chauncey W. Cook
Chairman, General Foods Corp

1968 December Commencement

Dr. Donald G. Yerg

1968 August Commencement

Jack G. Real
Vice President, Lockheed-California Co.

1968 June Commencement

Robben W. Fleming
President, University of Michigan

1967 December Commencement

R. C. Cole

1967 August Commencement

Dr. Karl V. Lindell

1967 June Commencement

Carl G. Hogberg

1966 December Commencement

Ralph J. Jalkanen

1966 August Commencement

Dr. Walter R. Hibbard

1966 June Commencement

Charles B. Branch

1965 December Commencement

Carl A. Moyer, M.D.

1965 August Commencement

Donald K. Slayton

1965 June Commencement

Dr. John H. Hollomon

1964 August Commencement

H. Stuart Harrison

1964 June Commencement

Semon E. Knudsen

1963 August Commencement

Robert R. Gilruth

1963 June Commencement

Brig. Gen. Oran O. Price

1962 August Commencement

Edwin T. Williams

1962 June Commencement

Philip A. Hart