“You have to believe the sky’s the limit. You can’t have limitations on your thoughts,” Dr. Yvonne Spicer, Ed.D. told students of MIT’s Saturday Engineering Enrichment and Discovery (SEED) Academy at their Graduation and Final Ceremony on Friday, April 2.
Over 150 students, staff and family members filled the auditorium on 50 Vassar Street, where, as part of the ceremony, students showcased their work from the semester’s classes: Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, Robotics, and Synthetic Biology.
Spicer, vice president of advocacy and educational partnerships for the National Center for Technological Literacy at the Museum of Science in Boston, was a keynote speaker at the event. With energetic flair, she detailed her experience as a worldwide advocate for underrepresented minorities in STEM fields and offered advice and insight relating to this year’s theme, “Knowing Matters.”
“Know that failure is good,” she said. “Very rarely do we hear failure is good, but in engineering, it’s good. We want things to fail early. We don’t want things to be built and then fail.”
Spicer stressed the importance of graciousness, patience, persistence, evaluating choices, and having a vision. She emphasized that she was proud of all of the students and that their passion and commitment inspires her to go to work every day.
101 students completed the six-Saturday SEED Academy semester. This year’s graduating senior class included 21 seniors, many who will attend top universities in the fall, including MIT, Harvard, Dartmouth, Brown, and Boston University.
“The seniors had really great enthusiasm this year,” said Jacob Rubens, a co-instructor for the Synthetic Biology and an MIT graduate student in microbiology. In Rubens’ class, students learned how to clone a gene and brainstormed innovative applications of bioengineering, such as developing plants that light up when adequately watered.
As juniors in the Robotics course, Antonio Santana and Keron Ali built and programmed robotic vehicles. “My favorite part was getting involved in activities,” Santana said. “The hard work paid off, and it was enjoyable to see work in action.”
Ali said his favorite part of SEED was learning about the different fields of engineering. “With engineering, you are making a connection to the outside world and doing something useful,” he said.