UW ECE Graduation Celebration 2021 Premiere | June 9, 2021

UW ECE Graduation Celebration 2021 Premiere | June 9, 2021

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Hi! My name is Eric Klavins and I am the  Chair of the University of Washington   Electrical and Computer Engineering  Department. On behalf of the entire   department, it is my great honor to welcome  you to the 2021 UW ECE Graduation Ceremony.   Having our graduation ceremony online instead of  in-person is a bittersweet ending to an incredibly   difficult year. But, graduates, in some ways it  makes your accomplishment even more impressive.   You completed one of the most challenging  programs at the University and you did it   in the face of incredible adversity. All of us in  the ECE department are incredibly proud of you.   I would also like to acknowledge all the parents,  families and friends who supported our graduates   in this last challenging year and throughout  their pursuit of their degrees. Well done!  

Each one of you has a unique life experience  that brought you to our department.   Some of you came from Seattle or Washington  or elsewhere in the United States.   Many of you came from outside the U.S. You may  have joined the UW as a freshman, transferred from   a community college, joined as a graduate student,  or left industry to get another degree. You may   have lived on campus or commuted. You may have  been the first one in your family to get a degree  

or the first to get a degree in engineering.  Wherever you came from, you will now combine   your life experience with your new expertise in  engineering to create something truly unique.   We are all incredibly excited to see what you  do next. While a student, you went to lectures,   did problem sets, stayed up all night working on  projects, learned to solder and learn to code.   You aced exams and maybe even failed one or two,  but you kept going. Many of you did internships,  

worked as graders, as teaching assistants, or as  research assistants. You made new friendships and   worked closely with your future colleagues. Those  of you who are graduating with advanced degrees   created entirely new knowledge. You learned to do  independent research, publish papers, present your   work at technical conferences, mentor and teach,  submit patents, and maybe even start companies.   It was incredibly hard work and what you  have accomplished is really impressive.   You have earned a degree from one of the best  universities and one of the best departments   in the entire world. Now, as they say, the  world is your oyster. You might get a job  

in industry or pursue an advanced degree,  you might continue to study engineering,   or combine your skills with law, medicine,  business or social science. Whatever you do,   remember that your expertise here taught you most  of all to learn. You are an expert at learning,   and learning does not stop when you graduate. In  fact, it increases at an even greater rate. So   I encourage you to embrace your ability to learn  and to apply it to the problems that matter most.   Find ways to help the community and the world  around you. You can address humanity's greatest   challenges. You can develop technology that  serves everyone, not just those who look like you  

or share the same background or abilities.  Strive to build diverse teams where everyone   feels welcome and included. Making the  world better is not only your opportunity   but it is also your responsibility. Graduates, I  also want you to know that you will always be part   of the University of Washington and part of the  Electrical and Computer Engineering department.   We are very proud of our alums. They have gone on  to do so many amazing things, from bringing cell   phone coverage to Myanmar like ECE alum, Pwint  Htun, to running the entire information technology   group at a major corporation like ECE alum, Diane  Jurgens. Wherever you go, I know I speak for our  

entire department when I say we would love you  to stop by and tell us of your adventures and   perhaps even help us mentor the next generation  of students. Our door will always be open.   Now, I would like to introduce today's  graduation speaker, Rico Malvar. Rico   is a research and industry leader known for his  work in signal processing and data compression.  

He is a strong advocate for expanding diversity in  engineering and developing accessible technology.   Rico is a Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft  and currently leads the Microsoft Research   Enable Group, which aims to empower people  living with disabilities. His past roles include   being Chief Scientist for Microsoft Research and  Managing Director of Microsoft Research, Redmond.   He joined Microsoft research in 1997 and  founded the company's Signal Processing Group,   which developed new technologies such as the  media compression formats used in Windows Xbox   and Office, as well as audio technologies used  in Windows Xbox Kinect and Hololens. He also made   key contributions to developing compressed file  formats used by most web video services today.   Rico has been a tremendous supporter of UW ECE  for many years. He has been a UW ECE affiliate  

professor since 1999 and served as Chair of  the UW ECE advisory board from 2012 to 2019.   He serves as a key connection between Microsoft  and our department, generously giving us his time,   his enthusiasm and his expertise. Rico  was chosen to speak at UW ECE Graduation   because we believe he embodies excellence and  dedication to the profession of engineering.   His work represents the kind of impact we hope   all our graduates will make on the world  - engineering with social good in mind and   helping to make technology truly accessible  for everyone. Please welcome Rico Malvar.   Good evening. Thank you, Eric, for your warm  welcome. It is an honor and a privilege to speak   to you today in this special evening. First,  I want to congratulate the parents, family  

members and friends of the graduates for all  you have done for them, especially the parents,   for whom this is such a special moment in their  lives. I am forever grateful for the sacrifices   and great advice from my parents and I am sure all  graduates share that same sentiment. I remember   my college graduation back in Brazil, my home  country, back in 1977. Right after the ceremony,   my grandmother approached me and said, "Well,  you are now an electronics engineer. That means   you can now fix appliances, change bulbs, and  even fix the TV if needed, right?" It's funny,   but she wasn't kidding! She was actually very  proud of what I had accomplished. As you know,   graduation is not an end. It really is a beginning  - the beginning of your professional life,  

which I hope, like mine, will be a wonderful  adventure full of challenges and opportunities.   I also hope that you will have dreams and  will work hard to achieve them. For example,   even though I started my career in Brazil, I had  the dream that one day I would complete a graduate   degree in a top engineering school in the United  States. With a good combination of hard work,   opportunities and luck, that did happen, nine  years later, when I completed my PhD degree   at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  And I was fortunate to have so many positive   professional experiences, including  being an affiliate professor   at the UW Electrical and Computer Engineering  department for over 20 years. I have been the   Director of Microsoft Research Labs here in  Redmond in Washington for several years, and   many other fruitful professional opportunities.  You may be thinking, what advice would you give  

us to bridge the gap from where we are today  to become a successful and impactful engineer?   Well, there's really no formula for that, but  let me share some aspects of my journey. First,   the passion. Our profession is really exciting.  Each decade that goes by, we see tremendous   progress in all areas of electrical and computer  engineering, from devices, systems, hardware,   software and many other things. The field is  impacted by societal changes and sometimes even  

drives societal changes. For example, we invented  mobile phones and now everybody's glued to them.   When I got my PhD, only a few people had mobile  phones and at that time the phones were gigantic   and all they did was make calls. Uh, today it's  even funny that we still call the mobile phone   a phone - it's really cool a portable computer  that does so many things, including being a   window to a good part of our social life. And  yes, it also goes from phone calls, but not by  

using numbers, but rather little icons with our  friends and pictures on them. We can count on the   fact that each decade will bring significant  advances, such as cars that drive themselves,   devices that can be controlled by your thoughts,  devices that will understand the behavior of your   pets or perhaps even your kids, and much more.  Besides that fundamental passion to invent and   build new things, other principles have served me  well in these past 40 years. One is to be bold,   to be fearless. Failure is normal, we learn from  it. And success is often temporary, so don't  

rest on your laurels. That means be adaptive, be  willing to learn, be willing to revisit old ideas,   fight inertia in thinking, don't seek comfort in  having your plan in life as highly predictable.   As John Lennon used to say, "Life is what happens  while you're busy making other plans." Another  

is to be a champion for inclusion and diversity,  equity and inclusion. The ultimate goal of   technology is to help people, and we should  always think about who we are helping and   how we are helping them. Even if I am designing  just a component of a bigger system, think about   the impact that component will have to bring more  value to people using it. Make sure that people of   all backgrounds and abilities can benefit from the  technologies we create. Also think of inclusion,   equity and diversity not only in users, but also  in design teams. Embrace people who look and think  

differently. Great ideas come from everywhere and  from everybody. For example, in the early 40s, the   famous Hollywood actress, Hedy Lamarr, invented  frequency hopping spread spectrum communications,   which was the basis for advanced secure military  communication systems at that time, and later a   foundation for the technology that supports mobile  communication, so it's in our mobile phones today.   Seek collaboration, give ideas away, don't think  about "my" project, but rather think about "our"   project, even if you're the formal creator and  leader of that project. Motivate all team members  

to think about "our" project. Have a positive  attitude, assume people are well-intended.   Most of the time they actually are. That will  help you develop more empathy, better understand   people's challenges, and help them solve those  challenges. That brings up team motivation, and   a motivated team can be easily three times more  productive than a demotivated team that's just   "doing the job." Be good in communication.  Learn how to explain what you do to any person,  

be simple, be clear, direct, even in technical  reports and papers. For example, don't say things   like, "In our experiment, the biota exhibited 100%  mortality response." Just say, "In our experiment,   all fish died." I test myself all the time. I try  to explain my projects to my family members - to  

my wife, to my kids. If they can understand it, I  work on, if they cannot understand it, I work on   finding better ways to explain it. Very important  - do seek social impact. As I said, technology   is for people, and we can think not only of  empowering each person, but also empowering   society more broadly. For example, if you  develop a technology that makes computing  

easier to use for people with disabilities,  you're contributing to a more inclusive society.   With advances that can help professionals do a  better job in medical diagnostics and treatment,   you can improve the health of society more  broadly. For example, you saw the impact of   how new technologies for vaccines were key  to getting us out of the COVID-19 pandemic.   We're almost there. Another way to think about  social impact is to see what we actually have  

the responsibility to give back. Remember that  your family, friends, colleagues, professors,   the UW and society in general - we have all  invested in each one of you. We really must   give back. I'm so grateful to the support  I always had from my parents, from my wife,   from my kids and all my family. We moved across  continents, we moved across the U.S., always   seeking new opportunities. And without their  support, I would not have had any of my successes.   And more, the more you gather experiences, share  it with your younger colleagues. For example,  

I spend a fair amount of my time at work mentoring  colleagues, sharing bits of my experience   with the caveat that they will be building their  own. Don't assume that I'm always a good model.   So let me close by congratulating again all of  you on your amazing accomplishment of becoming   an engineer, a graduate from the University of  Washington Department of Electrical and Computer   Engineering. That is the first milestone  of your professional life as an engineer   and I wish you all a lot of success in achieving  many more great milestones through your career.   Go invent and build new technology for  the next generation. Society needs you!   Hello, Class of 2021. You did it! ECE is  proud of all your accomplishment and happy   to share in the excitement of your graduation  day. As ECE faculty and staff, we cherish the  

relationships we've built with you. Thank you for  all that you've contributed to the ECE department   as active learners in the classroom,  dedicated researchers in the laboratory,   involved participants in student  organizations, and leaders for innovation.   Although we can't be together in person this year,  we are so glad to be coming together virtually   to celebrate your achievements. We want to commend  all of you for your hard work during your time in   ECE, especially during this time of uncertainty in  multiple quarters of remote learning. We know that   there have been countless challenges, but you have  faced them with resilience and determination. When   transitioning to online learning, we witnessed  firsthand your perseverance, grit and ability to   adapt in order to continue your academic studies.  When it was not possible to connect in person,  

we saw you come together as a student community,  finding ways to connect and engage virtually.   When your peers and people around the  world experienced loss, pain and turmoil,   we felt the care and empathy you had for one  another in the face of hardship and injustice.   With your persistence and hard work to complete  the degree in this hard time, we are confident   that you will be able to accomplish any future  challenges in front of you after graduation.   We are inspired by all of you and we  appreciate everything you have done   to make the ECE community special. Even though  you are graduating, you will always be a part of   the ECE community, now as ECE alumni. Today,  we are gathering together to celebrate you   and applaud your many accomplishments. Your  future is filled with possibilities and we  

know that you will continue to achieve great  things and change the world for the better.   Just as we are proud of all that you have  accomplished, you should also feel a sense   of accomplishment for a job well done. We hope  you're able to celebrate, surrounded by the   love and support of friends and family even if  they are cheering you on from afar. We wish you  

the best wherever your journey takes you next.  We know you have a bright future ahead of you.   Congratulations!

2021-06-12 14:34

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