MU College of Engineering sends off nearly 340 graduates

Friday, May 11, 2012 | 7:11 p.m. CDT; updated 10:16 p.m. CDT, Friday, May 11, 2012
Students accepted their degrees Friday afternoon during the MU College of Engineering graduation ceremony at Hearnes Center. Five other colleges held commencements today, and eight schools will hold commencement ceremonies tomorrow.

COLUMBIA - Cheers bounced around Hearnes Center on Friday as graduates made their way across the stage to receive their diplomas.

The College of Engineering held its graduation ceremony at 2 p.m. Friday. The school issued around 350 degrees to about 340 graduates. Of the 17 commencements throughout the weekend at MU, the College of Engineering's ceremony was one of seven held Friday.

"Right as I was walking across the stage, as soon as I handed (the announcer) my name, I blacked out as I walked forward," said Nathan Danigelis, a graduate of the college's mechanical engineering program. "I couldn't see anything around me. I just smiled and said to myself, 'I just have to make it across.'"

Nancy Burkhalter and Lori Gerke, close family friends of graduate Quintin Binder, showed up to wish him the best since he plans on leaving Missouri after graduating.

"He's always been interested in how things work," Burkhalter said. "He's an only child and he asks a million questions."

College of Engineering Dean James Thompson opened up the ceremony by explaining to the fresh graduates that the country no longer produces a significant number of engineers compared to other nations, and the days of the United States being a dominant player in technology advancement are over. With this in mind, he urged the graduates to move forward and to strive to bring us back.

"It is our job that we prepare our students to take this on, although we are outnumbered," Thompson said.

Lorraine Stipek, director of global business and operations at National Instruments, spoke as a guest speaker to the graduates. She told the audience to envision what it was passionate about and turn that vision into a plan of action.

"I believe the center of vision and discovery is still here in the U.S.," she said.

Thompson said that this was the largest spring class the college has had and that its enrollment is up for next year as well, a sign it is growing.

Graduate Matt Francis' mother was happy to say her son was coming back home to St. Louis to find a job in chemical engineering.

"He was always good in math and science and gravitated towards that," Jennifer Francis said.

Danigelis had a difficult time accepting college as a chapter of his life that was now closed.

"It's like a roller coaster, honestly," he said. "You go from being pumped, just to come down and being like, 'This is it.'"

Nine schools will also hold commencement ceremonies Saturday.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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