IBM Technology Strategist to Speak to Spring Graduates

By Dennis Walikainen | Published

David Barnes, program director for IBM’s Emerging Technologies group, will be the featured speaker at Michigan Technological University’s Spring Commencement at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, May 4, in the John J. MacInnes Student Ice Arena. Barnes will also receive  an honorary doctorate of philosophy.

At commencement, the University will honor the achievements of nearly 1,000 graduates, including 739 students receiving undergraduate degrees, 226 receiving graduate degrees, and 19 also being commissioned as second lieutenants in the armed forces.

Continuing a new tradition, Katherine Price, who will be receiving a BS in Environmental Engineering, will be the student speaker.

A native of Bridgeman, Barnes was a tinkerer in his father’s radio and television business from an early age, and he was an IBM engineer by age 19. Public speaking soon became his first love, however, and, as IBM’s first technology evangelist, he’s had his finger on the pulse of innovation of the corporate giant since the early days of the Internet.

Barnes has also been responsible for some important technological milestones, receiving patents for voice recognition and natural language understanding programs. He is the lead spokesperson for Watson, the supercomputer that dominated the TV quiz show Jeopardy!.

Traveling to some 40 nations over the years, Barnes has presented to everyone from heads of state to executives and developers. He has been featured in a series of IBM commercials, “It’s a Warped World," and he has mentored students in the IBM Extreme Blue innovation lab for a decade.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.