To the Class of 2012: 'Are you ready to change the world'?

They haven’t even begun their first courses, but the Class of 2012 has already made history.

At a convocation ceremony on Tuesday, August 26, the future inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs were formally welcomed as the first official class of the new Polytechnic Institute of NYU. The affiliation between Polytechnic and New York University became effective on July 1, 2008.

“You are joining 154 years of scientists and engineers who changed the world,” said President Jerry M. Hultin. “I and this faculty believe in you and the change you’ll make in the world. But I must ask, ‘Are you ready to change the world’”?

President Hultin posed another question to the students: What are the world’s most pressing problems? They named the energy crisis, storing nuclear waste, and the war in Iraq, among others.

Charles Camarda, an alumnus of the class of ’74 (AE) and NASA astronaut who embodies NYU-Poly’s innovative spirit, took the stage as keynote speaker. “When I started at NASA I thought being an engineer meant following the rules,” Dr. Camarda said. “But that wasn’t it. What causes great design is how well you use your brain.”

Dr. Camarda will spend the upcoming academic year at NYU-Poly as a distinguished professor in residence. He said, “NASA let me go anywhere in the world, and I chose NYU-Poly because it has the right ingredients to make innovative thinkers.”

NYU-Poly’s diversity and the way it encourages students to take intellectual risks without fearing failure are two of those ingredients, said Dr. Camarda. He also noted that “most inventions happen at the boundaries of disciplines,” a place that Polytechnic is firmly positioned for with its NYU partnership.

The convocation ceremony was also a chance for current NYU-Poly students to showcase their innovative thinking. Posters explaining over 40 projects from the 2nd Annual Undergraduate Summer Research Program surrounded the stage and audience.

From building a superbug that searches and destroys neurotoxins to interpreting The Tibetan Book of the Dead using advanced, 3-D animation software to creating ultra-strong, ultra-lightweight composites for building space shuttles, the students demonstrated the Power of PolyThinking.