As we celebrate our 60th Anniversary, Convocation takes on special meaning. The Convocation ceremonies provide an opportunity for those graduating, their family members, administrators, and faculty members to come together and acknowledge their impressive achievements, and to applaud the hard work and sacrifices made throughout their years at Waterloo Engineering.
The June 2017 ceremonies included very distinguished honours, including Honarary Doctor of Engineering Degrees granted to Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator, Chunli Bai, President of the Chinese Academy of Science and Göran Andersson, professor emeritus at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland.
Presidents of Y Combinator and Chinese Academy of Sciences recipients of Waterloo honorary doctorates
Sam Altman the president of Y Combinator —considered the world’s most powerful startup incubator — received an Honorary Doctor of Engineering. Altman cofounded his first startup company, Loopt, at age 19. He has since cofounded Hydrazine Capital and served as CTO of Green Dot, as acting CEO of Reddit, and as board chair of two nuclear power companies.
In 2014 he was named president of Y Combinator, arguably the most prestigious startup accelerator in the world. In 2015 he cofounded OpenAI, a non-profit company dedicated to building safe artificial intelligence for the benefit of all humanity and, in the same year, was named the top investor under 30 by Forbes. Today, Sam Altman is one of Silicon Valley’s most influential figures and is helping direct the course of technology around the globe.
During Altman's visit on campus this June he met with student entrepreneurs and conducted a Startup School which included mentoring for Elucid Labs to help them develop their funding pitch. Watch the full session here:
Chunli Bai, President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the President of the World Academy of Sciences for the Advancement of Science in Developing Countries received an Honorary Doctor of Engineering. Bai also addressed the graduating students and shared specifics on joint initiatives between the University of Waterloo and Chinese institutions.
Chunli Bai graduated from the Department of Chemistry, Peking University in 1978 and received his MSc and PhD degrees from the Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in 1981 and 1985, respectively.
Bai is a well-known chemist and leading scientist in the field of nanoscience. For his outstanding research and academic achievement in nanoscience, he has won more than twenty prestigious awards including UNESCO Medal for Contributions to Development of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.
He holds several memberships and prestigious fellowships including: Foreign Member of the Royal Society, Foreign Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Corresponding Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, Honorary Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Member of the German Academy of Science and Engineering, Member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Honorary Member of the Chemical Society of Japan and Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences.
After the Convocation services, Chunli Bai spoke to a group of students and faculty about Nanoscience and Nanotechnology progress in China, reviewing current research and national nano programs.
The details of his talk are provided here:
Also receiving an Honorary Doctor of Engineering was Göran Andersson a professor emeritus at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland, where he was the head of the Electric Power Systems and High Voltage Technology Lab from 2000 to 2016, following 14 years as chair and professor in power systems at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden.
Before moving to academia, he enjoyed a successful career in high voltage DC (HVDC) transmission at ASEA in Sweden. His research has resulted in over 400 highly-cited publications, supervising hundreds of doctoral and master’s theses. He has made many significant contributions to professional societies in a leadership role, and has been given several prestigious awards and fellowships in professional and learned societies.
Piper Bernbaum was honoured with a Governor General's Gold Medal. She received her Master of Architecture degree in Fall 2016. Her research work focused on Eruv – an ancient Jewish concept in which Orthodox Jews can participate in activities that are normally prohibited on the Sabbath by living within an urban area that is surrounded by a nearly invisible physical boundary. Her thesis has been described as majestic, ground-breaking, and a truly novel contribution to this subject.
Bernbaum is an adjunct professor at the School of Architecture and is currently the project manager of the expanded exhibition of The Evidence Room at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto. The enhanced installation includes architectural models, new plaster casts, and a movie on the background of Auschwitz to provide context for school and tour groups.