HOUGHTON - Evan Laske did a co-op with NASA during his four-and-a-half years at Michigan Technological University, and because of that experience and his education at Tech, he has a job lined up with the agency.
Laske, who is from the Detroit area, said he will be working in robotics with NASA, and some of the things he worked on during his co-op there are already being used on the International Space Station.
He enjoyed his time at Tech, Laske said, and he thinks the co-op with NASA helped with his school work.
Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette
Michigan Technological University President Glenn Mroz addresses graduates during the Tech midyear commencement ceremony Saturday.
"You pay attention more," he said. "Everything soaks in better."
Laske, who graduated magna cum laude, was one of 482 bachelor's degree, master's degree and Ph.D. students participating in the midyear commencement at Tech Saturday in the Wood Gym at the Student Development Complex.
Opening the commencement ceremony was Tech President Glenn Mroz, who said he's impressed by how far and wide Tech grads are spread over the planet.
"If you wear a Tech shirt anywhere in the world, you'll meet someone from Tech," he said.
Mroz said Tech graduates are involved with the development of many existing and emergent technologies working with governments and companies all over the world. Tech graduates have won national and international awards in their various fields. One of the university's graduates was the first female engineer working on the Mackinac Bridge.
The fact Tech students interact with other students and faculty from many countries will help graduates in their chosen professions, Mroz said.
"You'll be able to make a difference wherever you go," he said. "You know what the future should look like."
The student speaker for the commencement ceremony was Justin Jones, who said learning doesn't always happen in the classroom.
Jones, who received a bachelor of arts degree in communication, culture and media, said it's going to be important for graduates to balance the needs of their professions with the needs of the community. Doing well in school was only the beginning.
"I hope that none of us has produced our best work," he said.
Doing their best work will require graduates to see opportunities when they happen.
"Once you miss it, it is gone forever," he said.
The guest speaker for commencement was Dr. Arden Bement Jr., director of the Global Policy Research Institute at Purdue University.
Bement said there are many challenges facing people all over the world, and technology can either help those challenges or make them worse.
Around the world, and particularly in developing countries, Bement said there are still issues of hunger, poverty, environmental degradation, invasive species and failed states.
"The interconnection of these issues are more entwined than ever," he said.
Although technology is advancing rapidly, Bement said it's important to understand the context of where the technology may be used.
"There are technologies vital for meeting needs," he said. "We can benefit from addressing these needs and adapting to a greener lifestyle."
Despite the years they just put into acquiring their degrees, Bement said much of that knowledge will soon become outdated, and it's important for graduates to keep up on the changes in knowledge after leaving school.
Bement said the degrees graduates just earned aren't just for getting a job.
"It's also a passport to the world," he said. "Your future starts today and there's no time to waste."
Haley Rupp graduated Saturday with a master's degree in forest molecular genetics and biotechnology, and she said she enjoyed her time at Tech.
"It's been great," she said.
Rupp, who is from downstate Ypsilanti, said she did overseas studies in Sweden and Finland and those experiences were an important part of her time at Tech.
"I've had a lot of great teachers," she said. "I made a lot of great friends."