June 18, 2019 | 75° F

Letter: Thomas N. Farris

"Treasure what you have gained here at Rutgers. The friendships you discovered, the knowledge you acquired, and the challenges you overcame."

Photo by Rutgers.edu |

Thomas Farris is the dean of the School of Engineering.

To the School of Engineering Class of 2017,

When Rutgers University first settled on the banks of the Raritan 250 years ago, engineering was not an established field of study. It wasn’t until 1864, when Rutgers admitted its first class of seven engineering students, that an engineering degree was offered. Now, more than 150 years later, the School of Engineering is thriving with nearly 5,000 high-achieving undergraduate and graduate students and more than 20,000 living alumni.

As members of the class of 2017, you are now part of the greater Rutgers School of Engineering community which is far larger than your graduating class, but one that is no less connected by our shared experiences as Rutgers engineers. You are also now part of the professional community of engineers and all the responsibilities and expectations that come along with your degree.

As students, you were challenged in ways that sometimes pushed you beyond what you thought you were capable of. You learned how to tackle problems and find solutions. You collaborated and worked in teams. You sought out internships and co-ops that offered real-world experiences. And you’ve come to understand that being an engineer means you’re never done learning.

As you prepare for your next big adventure whether it is in industry, the public sector, or academia, you are entering into a proud profession. Engineers continue to invent products and the technologies required to make them. We raise the standard of living and improve quality and length of life. And we invent new industries that have the potential to be powerful economic drivers.

As someone once said, “To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.”

You may remember that during your first-year convocation ceremony I asked you to look to your left and look to your right, and promised that you would get through the next four years together. Well, you did!

As you embark on this new phase of your personal and professional life, I am confident you will succeed in making a lasting impression. But I also encourage you to stay connected. The School of Engineering offers many ways for you to continue to be involved through networking events, mentorship, and continuing education programs. As many of you experienced firsthand, a network of successful alumni benefits the school in so many ways and is essential to fulfilling the school’s mission and realizing its vision.

Treasure what you have gained here at Rutgers. The friendships you discovered, the knowledge you acquired, and the challenges you overcame. You have the foundation—build upon it, and let nothing stand between you and what you can accomplish.

On behalf of all the faculty and staff at the Rutgers University School of Engineering, I congratulate you on your graduation and wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavors.

Thomas N. Farris, Ph.D.

Thomas N. Farris is the dean of the School of Engineering.

Thomas N. Farris

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