Message from the dean
Warm congratulations from the College of Engineering to all of our graduates – we’re proud of you! Dean Suzanne Kresta shares an inspiring story for you, the Class of 2020, in her Convocation address.
Warm greetings to the Engineering Class of Fall 2020, your family, your friends and your loved ones.
A few short months ago our lives were turned upside down – fittingly – on Friday, March 13.
Over the last few years, you have moved from class to class, from coffee shops to dorms, sporting events, libraries, and apartments – at the same time as your professors have trudged back and forth from Engineering to Thorvaldson, to meetings with industry and conferences around the world – exploring the edges of what is known and sharing new ideas. Your connection to the University of Saskatchewan is one that you will carry with you wherever you go, and I hope that our campus has become your second home. You will always be welcome here.
University campuses are places where people learn and share ideas quickly, spreading those ideas across the country and around the world. This rapid spread of ideas is also perfectly suited to the spread of viruses, so our vibrant campus life will have to live virtually for some time to come – along with major sporting events and rock concerts. Not bad company to keep!
The friendships that spread rapidly through all of your lives while you were here with us are friendships that can last a lifetime. Your class has started out by staying connected through the virtual environment. Stay connected. Those friends will understand parts of you that will never change with the passing years.
As I thought about what to say to you today, I went back to the history of our college. Our first students graduated in 1916. They were given special leave to complete their degrees a few weeks early so that they could go on passes to military training. The entire College of Engineering closed down immediately after the end of classes that year. The professors, the dean and all of our students enlisted to serve to serve in the First World War. When the war was over, they returned to the Spanish Flu from 1918 to 1919 and our campus did not fully reopen until the fall of 1920. Our second graduating class finished their degrees in 1921, a full five years after our first three graduates.
My grandmother graduated from university in 1922. She raised four children during the Depression and the Second World War, and I can tell you that stress baking is not a new thing. Every Saturday, Grandma would bake two pies, cookies, and bread for her family.
I want to note, for you particularly, that universities were not allowed to close during the Second World War. By then, research and innovations were central to what was needed to move through that crisis, just as they are today. I can tell you that infection models developed in universities were propagated very, very quickly into industry in the early stages of the pandemic to find ways to keep essential services moving while minimizing risk to our people. Students and technical staff – and equipment – from our college were all deployed almost immediately for COVID relief. Knowledge remains one of our most important and powerful currencies. Curiosity combined with knowledge and hard work is almost unstoppable.
While our generation is not used to collective hardship, we are resilient, we are strong, and the degrees you have worked so hard to earn will give you the strongest possible foundation for your future lives. Just as my grandparents did, you will go on to do great things. You will find your paths as engineers and have remarkable adventures building the future and solving tough problems. You will fulfill the dreams that brought you here today in ways that will surprise you.
Convocation is one of my favourite times of the year, and while we cannot reach out and shake your hands as you cross the stage, and meet your parents and your friends, our hearts are bursting with pride and delight in your accomplishments. I know that your families are all so very proud of what you have done to overcome this unexpected last hurdle and complete your degrees.
My warm congratulations to each and every one of you.
Check your mailbox!
Graduates, although we can't gather in person this year, we still want to let you know we are proud of you and are excited for you to reach this milestone. Thanks to the support of the Engineering Advancement Trust you will receive in the mail a booklet full of advice and congratulations from USask Engineering alumni, faculty and staff. Watch for it!