25 August 2007


Convocation Speech

I had to give a speech the other day at the convocation for incoming freshmen. Here it is:
It’s a real pleasure to have this chance to speak to this incoming Class of 2011 on behalf of the faculty at the Daytona Beach campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

When I look out over this group, I see the best in aviation and aerospace of the next generation. Within just a few years, you and your classmates will be among the leading military and commercial pilots and astronauts flying the latest and greatest aircraft and spacecraft. You’ll be the engineers who’ll design those aircraft and spacecraft. You’ll be the leaders in aviation business, space physics, meteorology, human factors, safety science, aerospace communications, and all the disciplines that contribute to the aviation and aerospace industries and more.

Take a moment and visualize yourself a few years from now as you start your first jobs after completing your degrees. What’s the difference between the people you are now and those leaders for that next generation in aviation and aerospace?

One man’s opinion: What you’ll take from your time here are increased knowledge, better skills, productive attitudes, and meaningful values.

Your being here to acquire knowledge and skills is self-evident; let me focus on attitudes and values.

You, Embry-Riddle students, are professionally directed, and the attitudes that lead to your success as professionals are the same ones that lead to your success as students. You’ll show up a little early, spend extra time checking your work, embrace challenging assignments, and participate fully. You’ll find the value of contributing through professional and community organizations. You’ll work hard and play hard, but you’ll also find the time to take care of those who matter to you.

As to values: There may be innumerable values that contribute to success, but premier among the ones we share as pilots, engineers, astronauts, scientists, managers, air-traffic controllers, and communicators is integrity. In our aerospace and aviation centered careers, there’s no room for misstating the facts. Your lives, the lives of those you’ll carry as passengers, who fly in the aircraft and spacecraft you design, who’ll count on the information the satellites you develop transmit back, who’ll depend on your weather forecasts: Those lives depend on our telling the truth about flight conditions, aircraft conditions, software reliability, operational costs, and the like. Your success, then, becomes bundled with integrity, and that will extend to all aspects of your academic, professional, and personal lives.

So on behalf of the faculty here at ERAU–Daytona Beach, I’m proud to welcome you to our community and to wish you all the best as you prepare to become that next generation of leaders in aerospace and aviation. I’m confident when I look back on the accomplishments of the Embry-Riddle Class of 2011 that your success will flow from the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values you’ll have ample opportunities to practice over the next few years.
I wrote this on the flight back from California. I was listening to some old school punk rock at the time. I can't decide if that's ironic or not.

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"I can't decide if that's ironic or not."

Well, yes and no.

Either way, very nice speech.

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