Georgia Tech Celebrates 235th Commencement

Vice Admiral Richard H. Truly and Institute Professor Robert M. Nerem will address the 235th undergraduate commencement ceremonies Saturday, December 12, at the Alexander Memorial Coliseum at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively.  The Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Management, Sciences and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts will all celebrate their undergraduate commencement during the morning, while the College Engineering undergraduates will celebrate their commencement during the afternoon ceremony.

Dr. Regina E. Dugan, the nineteenth director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), will address the graduate ceremony in Alexander Memorial Coliseum Friday, December 11, at 7 p.m.  Approximately 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students will participate in the three commencement ceremonies.

Truly became NASA’s associate administrator for Space Flight in 1986, leading the painstaking rebuilding of the Space Shuttle program.  This was highlighted by NASA’s celebrated “return to flight” in 1988, when the Discovery lifted from Kennedy Space Center on the first shuttle mission in nearly three years.

Before returning to NASA, the former shuttle astronaut served as the first commander of the Naval Space Command in Dahgren, Virginia.  His career in the U.S. Navy began when he was commissioned an ensign.  This coincided with his graduation from Georgia Tech, where he was a Naval ROTC midshipman and earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering.

Truly was a pilot for one of the two-astronaut crews that flew the 747/Space Shuttle Enterprise approach and landing test flights during 1977.  His first space flight was in November 1981 as a pilot of the Space Shuttle Columbia, the first piloted spacecraft to be reflown in space.  His second flight in 1983 was as commander of the Space Shuttle Challenger, the first night launch and landing in the shuttle program.  After leaving NASA, Truly became vice president and director of the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

Bob Nerem
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Robert M. Nerem

Georgia Tech will also be granting Truly an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree recognizing his many achievements that have advanced the exploration of space and for his imaginative leadership in motivating young people to consider careers in science and engineering.

Nerem has been active in bioengineering for more than thirty-five years. His initial interest was motivated by the possible role of fluid dynamics in atherosclerosis, and he has conducted fundamental research on problems in cardiovascular fluid dynamics. In 1981 he established a cell culture laboratory and began to study the influence of physical forces on anchorage-dependent mammalian cells, with much of this work focusing on the cells, which make up blood vessels. This work led to his interest in tissue engineering, and he now is director of the Georgia Tech/Emory Center for the Engineering of Living Tissues (GTEC), an Engineering Research Center established in 1998 and funded by the National Science Foundation.

From 1995 to 2009 Nerem served as the director of the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, a research institute whose mission is to integrate engineering, information technology, and the life sciences in the conduct of biomedical research. In addition, he served on a part-time basis from 2003 to 2006 as the senior advisor for bioengineering in the National Institute of Health's newest institute, the National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.

Appointed by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Dr. Dugan was sworn in as the nineteenth director of DARPA in July.

Founded in 1958 as a response to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik, DARPA’s mission is to prevent strategic surprise for the United States as well as create strategic surprise for the country’s adversaries.  DARPA is the principal agency within the Department of Defense for research, development and demonstration of high-risk, high-payoff projects for current and future combat forces.

Experienced in counterterrorism and defense against explosive threats, Dugan first served the nation as a DARPA program manager from 1996 to 2000.  During this time, she directed a diverse $100 million portfolio of programs including the “Dog’s Nose” program effort  focused on the development of advanced, field portable systems for detecting the explosive content of land mines.  In 1999, Dugan was named DARPA Program Manager of the Year for her efforts, and in 2000 she was awarded the prestigious Bronze deFleury Medal by the Army Engineer Regiment.  She is also the recipient of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Exceptional Service and the Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Dugan holds a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Virginia Tech.  She is the sole inventor or co-inventor on multiple patents and patents pending.  Co-author of Engineering Thermodynamics, she is the first female director of DARPA.

The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the world's premier research universities. Ranked seventh among U.S. News & World Report's top public universities and the eighth best engineering and information technology university in the world by Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities, Georgia Tech’s more than 20,000 students are enrolled in its Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Management and Sciences. Tech is among the nation's top producers of women and minority engineers. The Institute offers research opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students and is home to more than 100 interdisciplinary units plus the Georgia Tech Research Institute.