SEAS celebrates new graduates at 2018 Commencement ceremonies

undergraduate commencement ceremony

Undergraduates get ready for the 2018 commencement ceremony.

by Emily Sugarman

Published June 8, 2018

The 2018 School of Engineering and Applied Sciences commencement ceremonies celebrated degrees conferred on several hundred students representing over forty different majors and areas of concentration — men and women of different backgrounds and ambitions from all around Western New York, the country, and the world.

“We hope that you will do great things for humanity, adapting over the course of your careers to the demands placed upon you, and that you will find delight in your achievements and impacts. We also hope that, as alumni of UB, you will stretch out a hand to those who are following in your footsteps, becoming a link in an unbroken chain that stretches around the globe and through the ages.”
Liesl Folks, dean
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

The graduate commencement ceremony was held on the afternoon of Friday, May 18, while the undergraduate commencement ceremony took place on the afternoon of Saturday, May 19. Both heavily attended events took place inside Alumni Arena at UB’s North Campus.

At both ceremonies, Kurt Bessel, President of the UB Engineering and Applied Sciences Alumni Association (UBAAA) welcomed the new alumni to UBAAA. In a letter to all of the graduates, he wrote, “The voice of the recent graduate is indispensable in the work of the UBEAA. Your continued connection to UB will serve to enrich our collective legacy, including those who take your seat in the lecture halls, classrooms, and labs next semester, and every semester thereafter."

Dean Folks shared this message with all of the graduates: “We hope that you will do great things for humanity, adapting over the course of your careers to the demands placed upon you, and that you will find delight in your achievements and impacts. We also hope that, as alumni of UB, you will stretch out a hand to those who are following in your footsteps, becoming a link in an unbroken chain that stretches around the globe and through the ages.” 

Student commencement speakers

Mary Canty (graduate) and Seamus Lombardo (undergraduate) were the student speakers at the SEAS commencement ceremonies.

Undergraduate Ceremony

At the undergraduate ceremony, students Devashish Agarwal (BS Computer Science), Walker T. Gosrich (BS Mechanical Engineering), and Seamus J. Lombardo (BS Aerospace Engineering) were recognized with the SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Student’s Excellence. The award “honors State University of New York students who have best demonstrated and been recognized for their integration of academic excellence with other aspects of their lives, which may include leadership, campus involvement, athletics, career achievement, community service, or creative and performing arts.”

Agarwal was president of the Honors Student Council for three years, organized the first Tedx Talk in UB’s history, and serves on the Future Alumni Leadership Council.

Gosrich received the national Barry Goldwater Scholarship, is music director of the Enchords, and is an active member of the robotics research group led by Nils Napp, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering.

Lombardo, who was program manager of UB Nanosatellite Lab and vice president of UB College Democrats, was the student speaker. In his speech, he spoke appreciatively of his fellow students: “Perhaps the most rewarding part of my career here has been working alongside you all; some of the most interesting, motivating, and upstanding individuals that I have ever met,” he said — “People who have constantly striven to push your lives and the lives of others upward in profound and exciting ways, and whom I am honored to call my friends,” Lombardo added.

University at Buffalo president Satish K. Tripathi conducted the conferring of degrees.

Dean Liesl Folks presented alumna Gina Lee-Glauser with the Dean’s Award for Achievement. Lee-Glauser received her BS and MS in mechanical and aerospace engineering from University at Buffalo, and her PhD in mechanical and aeronautical engineering from Clarkson University. Currently, she serves as vice president for research and scholarship at Clarkson University. In her speech, she reflected on how overcoming challenges as a minority was never easy. She shared how important it is to follow your passion, to never stop exploring, and to be a conscientious person. 

“You hold the promise of our future. The critical importance of your engineering and applied sciences degrees has been recognized by businesses and politicians across the world. We know that innovation is the cornerstone of our nation’s and world’s economic stability and national security. We need you to innovate and inspire to make technological contributions that benefit society,” said Lee-Glauser.

Pre-ceremony photos

Undergraduate SUNY Chancellor's Award winners Walker Gosrich, Devashish Agarwal and Seamus Lombardo pose with UB President Satish Tripathi, SEAS Dean Liesl Folks, and SEAS Dean's Award winner Gina Lee-Glauser.

Graduate Ceremony

At the graduate school ceremony, Phillip Schneider (PhD Electrical Engineering) and Mary Canty (PhD Biomedical Engineering) were recognized for the SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence. 

Schneider is co-founder, president, and chief technology officer of La Salle Concepts and sits on the Western New York Invention Convention Board.

Canty was a Presidential Fellow in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and received the Woman in Technology Award at InfoTech WNY’s 2017 Buffalo Emerging Technology Awards Showcase. As the student speaker, she expressed in her speech what she believes drives students to choose their paths, tackle challenges, and make discoveries: curiosity. 

Canty shared, “While there are a million things I’ve learned I don’t know, one thing I know for sure. There are countless people who have helped each and every one of us get to where we are now. The University at Buffalo has been an unbelievable experience, providing the education, support and resources for our academic careers. It never ceased to amaze me how such a large university could feel so small. There were our professors who took the time to care, teach, answer emails and hold office hours. Our friends who made school a little easier and lab work fun. And most importantly for many of us, our families, who made sacrifices for us to be where we are now, supporting our curiosity each and every step of the way.” 

Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Charles F. Zukoski conducted the conferring of degrees. 

The Distinguished Alumnus Speaker for the graduate ceremony was Victor Bahl, who received his BS and MS in electrical and computer engineering from UB and his PhD from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Bahl has won numerous prestigious and technical awards for both propelling the world into the Wi-Fi era through his research and innovation, as well as his socially conscious work — like his and his wife’s nonprofit "Computing For All."

In his speech, he revealed how profoundly UB shaped him as a young adult, and how motivating it was for him to find a cause that he felt passionate about. His personal cause was the “information divide,” and he advised that students choose an important cause and volunteer in its spirit.

Bahl left the students with significant words of wisdom: "Class of 2018 – I implore you to have a vision for your life and be very deliberate about the problems you work on. Surround yourselves with good people who are smart, who think critically and have a can-do attitude, they will up your game. Don’t wait to figure things out, roll up your sleeves and start now and figure it out along the way! Those who think boldly, take initiatives, operate fearlessly and persevere will get us to the next level.”

CSE graduate commencement party.

Professor and chair of computer science and engineering Chunming Qiao and Distinguished alumni speaker Victor Bahl.