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Undergraduate Commencement Celebration

A message from Department Head Dr. Eileen Van Aken
Congratulatory messages from the ISE faculty

Class of 2020 Slideshow

ISE Undergraduate Student Awards - Graduating Seniors

Robert D. Dryden Outstanding Senior Award


Sarah Hack

ISE Advisory Board's Don Taylor Senior Leadership Award


Chris Brassel

Outstanding Service Award


Kaitlyn Coughlin


Valerie DiGuilio


Matthew Garlington


Elianna Gerb


Dina Kandil


Michael Lyons


Dan Nguyen


Katheryn Osmond

Caroline Verrecchia


National Awards

IISE James W. Barany Student Award for Excellence


Sarah Hack

Alpha Pi Mu S. Balachandran Service Scholarship


Katheryn Osmond

Senior Design Team Awards - Sponsored by the ISE Advisory Board

Application of ISE Tools

Devils Backbone Brewing Company

Chris Brassel, Josh Glaab, Rachel Hollatz, Cher Wang

Performance Impact

Republic Finance

Kaitlyn Commes, Eric Forderkonz, George Abdel Messih, Nate Smith

Innovation & Creativity

Collins Aerospace

Kevyn De Zavala, Sarah Hack, Dylan Miller, Gordon Quach

Digital Transformation

Integrated Textile Solutions

Deirdre Cahill, Matt Garlington, Olivia Reed, Pranay Shah

Messages from ISE Alumni

Virginia Tech's Class of 2020 experienced a final semester unlike any other. Our alumni have sent heartfelt congratulatory messages just for you. 

"You are the new generation of Industrial and Systems Engineers that will be in charge of finding the optimal or best solutions for problems in the post-pandemic world. Know you have been well-prepared to do just that. Congrats and we will be looking forward to your accomplishments in industry or graduate school."

-Alexandra Medina-Borja '95, '02

"Congratulations! Know other significant achievements are ahead. The work completed for your degree created a solid foundation for your career, family, friendships, and personal well-being."

-Marilyn Smith '84

"Congratulations! With all of the change we face today, I cannot think of a better time to be an Industrial Engineer. In upheaval lies opportunity. Find something in our world that is changing and focus on making the change and the world in which we live better."

-Steven M. Belz, Ph.D. '95, '97, '00

"This 2020 year has already presented humanity with many, many challenges. Given these uncertain times, the VT ISE Class of 2020 is uniquely poised to enter the workforce with a bang and make a hugely positive impact very quickly. CONGRATS ISE CLASS OF 2020!!!"

-Dan Surber '10

"It is truly unfortunate that the term before your graduation has been marred by a pandemic that has raged on for several months. But, there has been no better time to recognize how fragile the earth and its inhabitants are. As engineers, you have the responsibility to use the collective resources of our earth well. Hope your generation will be better stewards of the earth's resources than my generation has been. Good luck."

-Suvrajeet Sen '82

"Congratulations class of 2020. You can now face the world as a Virginia Tech graduate, able to deal with all the issues this virus can cause. And help others cope as well. This event will be long remembered; you survived and will prosper! UT PROSIM. GO HOKIES!"

-Carroll Garland Hagen '67

"Your life's path is determined by your choices; so choose well. If you are afraid, then don't do it. If you are going to do it, then don't be afraid. Never be afraid to help others or to promote the common good for you are a Hokie!"

-Vinod Chachra '69, '72

"Stay confident and pursue all opportunities. In a time of crisis, there are new openings that could prove to be valuable. You have worked hard and will get through this."

-Kirk Spitzer '67

"Congratulations! Graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in industrial and systems engineering will open many doors for you. You have earned a highly respected credential with direct applicability to a multitude of jobs and functions. You have everything in hand for a great life and career. Be true to yourself, and remember to build on interpersonal skills to ensure a successful professional journey."

-Olivier A. Girod '96

"I know that right now this can all seem so unfair – so many things in life have already been impacted and now graduation. My time in college was not without “drama”; we had a massacre and a major recession. Many people lost jobs/job offers, internships, even friends and family members. It felt a lot like this at times; life was changed from that point forward and it never went back to the way it was before. The major point is that we all prevailed and we always will. You are all young and smart and I am so excited to see all of the things that you accomplish in spite of these turn of events!"

-Rebecca Ovelgoenner '11

"Congratulations and welcome to the Hokie Alumni Association! Wherever life and jobs may take you, trust your instincts and rest in knowing your VT education ranks amongst the best in the world. You are a problem solver and the world needs you and your talents. Wishing you all the best. Ut Prosim!"

-Scott Pearl '84

"Our world needs you, your talents and knowledge, your energy and enthusiasm, and your leadership. You are well prepared to serve now and in the years ahead. Best wishes!"

-Curtis J Tompkins '65, '67

"As Shakespeare said: "Be great in act, as you have been in thought," and, "No legacy is so rich as honesty." Congrats and good luck!"

-Maggie Dozier '15


"Find your passion and pursue it with vigor. Always look to be a part of the solution and never a part of the problem. Choose happiness. Finally, live the Virginia Tech motto of Ut Prosim."

-Thomas Davis '01


"Graduation is an important step into the most exciting time of your life - your professional career. While this pandemic has ruined graduation ceremonies, I, for one, can relate to missing those events. I left Texas A&M to enter the Army in 1971 - got my diploma in the mail - it still hangs proudly. Life is not always fair and I've learned that when you "break an egg" - you make an "omelette" - Remember the good times at Virginia Tech and the skills you take with you - they will sustain you."

-Daniel Gower '92

"I am so sorry that you did not get to experience those final days on campus that are filled with such excitement, stress, and anticipation...all worth it because you are living in Blacksburg!!! We can't reclaim those missed moments, but trust that you are exactly where you are supposed to be in this moment and all of your experiences up to this point have well prepared you for the tasks ahead of you. God bless you and your families as you celebrate your success and toast your future! Ut Prosim."

-Alana Mason Love '87


"There is no one, and I mean no one, that is better equipped to handle this new world than you are. 30-year industry veterans have just had their world turned upside down. We all just got put back on the starting blocks. Forget corporate hierarchies, you all are now the experts. Younger, hungrier, and better prepared than any alumni. Now make your mark. Go Hokies!"

-Rew Dickinson '10

"You will soon be a Virginia Tech graduate and your accomplishment, in light of the challenges facing the world, is no small feat. Many more adverse events will hit you in life, but like the ocean tides, they push you around a little, and then go away for awhile. Keep your ground, move a little if you have to, but remember this next time, like the last time, you will manage to stay afloat. You have endured and are most welcome in this fraternity of Hokie grads and may you always find solid ground when you think back on the education you earned, of which no one can take away, as well as the great memories you have from Virginia Tech!"

-Don E.K. Campbell '90

"Think big! You are capable of more than you realize. And don't worry if your career arc deviates from your major after a while. That's very normal (and exciting too)."

-Cole Smith '00

"Life is an accumulation of moments - a journey of what you have learned and experienced. Your next step is ahead of you. You are prepared. Make new moments and impact the world. Hokie pride!"

-Chris Rockwell '92

"As you move into the unknown and find yourself without a light to guide yourself, think back on your core purpose and how your work, in any setting, is important. Deming said it best with "Motivation - nonsense. All that people need to know is why their work is important."

-Neal Moriconi '14


"Congratulations! It may seem like a challenging time to enter the workforce, but your experience at Virginia Tech will serve you well. The COVID-19 crisis will put a premium on resiliency, adaptability, and problem solving - all things I know you learned as a Hokie. Find reasons to stay engaged with your classmates. It may not seem like it now, but this network will be more important than your specific academic knowledge. Don't be anxious to "start a company" immediately. Find a passion. Get deep into an area and really understand it intimately. This is when the business opportunities will appear. We are proud of you all! Go out and represent Hokie Nation with pride."

-Jaime A. Smith '89

"I've always been told (and found it to be true) that in times of chaos (for everyone else) are the best times to take control of things and drive them to the way you want them to be. Be the first to act and propose a plan or new way of thinking / acting. Having made a conscious decision to take time and continue your education, I'm sure this isn't exactly how you expected it to culminate. But use this time afterward to help society (and companies) rethink how they should be prepared for the "no way that will happen" events of the future. In this case, companies who had prioritized digital offerings are thriving while those that did not are feeling the pain. For those who have had their job search/offerings impacted by the pandemic--I can only try to empathize and I was in grad school during the financial crisis; completely different but similar contraction of the economy. I didn't get my job offer until the week of graduation, and I know many who did not have jobs until months after graduation. They are all doing great now and leaders of their company; and had I not gotten the job I took at that point I would have never made it to Google or had nearly the impact on others that I've had now."

-Khalif Oliver '04

"I graduated during the Vietnam war crisis. I lived through other wars, tragedies, and economic setbacks. They all pass into history, eventually. What is important is to remember the lessons learned and become wiser with time. And to cherish the relationships with friends and family during the tough times. I have been in touch with several of my dearest friends from Virginia Tech this week and we still support each other. Remain confident and use your new problem solving skills to get through this trying period. Good luck!!"

-Jerry Batt '72

"Graduating seniors - while we are unable to be there physically to celebrate your graduation, I hope you all know that we are just as proud and excited to celebrate your success virtually! I look forward to hearing about all of your accomplishments and achievements in the years to come. I'm sure that I'll be hearings words of wisdom from you all before I know it :)"

-Curtis Calder '15

"Congratulations 2020 SENIORS. There has been three phases of my life at VT: 1) Learning 2) Earning and 3) Returning. You are starting #2. I sincerely hope that your phase #3 will be not only physically returning to campus (like I have for the last 20 years) but also returning by being involved with the ISE Department. This is my sixth and final year on the Advisory Board. Special congrats to those seniors who were able to use my scholarships to help complete their studies. GO HOKIES."

-John W. Montague, Jr. '67

"Congratulations, ISE Hokie grads! Welcome to the ranks of ISE alumni, and best of luck in your future endeavors! GO HOKIES!"

-Camille Siskoy '11

"It may not have been the senior year you wanted or expected but you graduated and that is a huge accomplishment!! Be proud of yourself. This will be be just one of many lessons in flexibility you will receive as you move forward in your careers as Hokies - shine bright and congratulations!!!"

-Jane S. Jones '85