As an alum of the oldest school of Telecommunications Engineering in Spain, I had the honor of being the keynote speaker for the 100th anniversary of the first class. The field, which is very similar to what we know in the United States as electrical and computer engineering, has played a pivotal role in driving progress around the world, connecting us, enabling economic opportunity, and, very importantly, preparing us to deal with the global pandemic. Interestingly, 100 years ago, when the first Spanish telecommunications engineers received their degrees, the world was also fighting a deadly pandemic. The differences between then and now are striking and can only be explained by the development of information and communication technology. Even after the pandemic gets under control, we continue to face global, existencial threats, and we must accept the challenge of leveraging technology to deal with them successfully.
The tragic death of George Floyd last year, the deep pain it caused across the country, and the guilty verdict announced yesterday in the trial of the police officer who murdered him are reminders of the work that still lies ahead in our journey toward justice. Too many Black people and other people of color are too often the targets of violence, hate, and racism. It is up to all of us to change that. Let us use this moment as an opportunity to come together, to heal together, and to recommit to the idea that we all share the same humanity with the same inalienable rights.
I recently participated in a panel discussion called "What are the learnings from learning online?" at the Times Higher Education (THE) Live U.S. conference. The conversation brought me together with administrators from private institutions like Stanford and Marymount to discuss the challenges and takeaways from a year of learning remotely.
This week, we gathered for a dedication of an exciting addition to Georgia Tech’s growing public sculpture collection, interestingly named Koan. Standing 12 meters tall, Koan is a magnificent structure in the center of campus, designed by the late John Portman, renowned architect and designer and one of our most distinguished alumni. I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Mr. Portman in life. But I love the message Koan will send on his behalf to the generations of Yellow Jackets to come.
This week I received my first dose of the covid-19 vaccine. It filled me with relief and immense gratitude. Never before had we (the global "we", the humankind "we") developed, tested, manufactured, distributed and delivered a vaccine to so many people this fast. Much work remains to be done to increase distribution by an order of magnitude and reach billions of people. But what we have so far accomplished makes me optimistic about our ability to tackle the most complex problems affecting us as a species and the planet we inhabit.
Yesterday’s senseless acts of violence in metro Atlanta are heartbreaking and incomprehensible. Together with recent reports about increased violent acts against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the country, they raise deeply concerning questions about racism in our country. Violence against Asian Americans is violence against us all. There is much we can do to combat racism. I urge us to use these events to come together, support all members of our community, and engage in action to eradicate racism and hate from our community.
Following an extensive synthesis process and aligning with the strategic plan, I’m proud to share the Georgia Tech 17 Rooms Recommended Actions report. I hope you’ll find something in this report to inspire you. As an institution with extraordinary strengths, we have the ability and the responsibility to make a difference. These actions in this report are not all-inclusive. They are one point along a journey of bettering ourselves, our local community, and our global community.
On Thursday, February 18, 2021, at 3:55 p.m. EST, we landed a 1,025-kg rover the size of a small car on Mars. After a seven-month journey through space, a jetpack hovering a few meters over the surface of Mars lowered the rover on cables and gently dropped it as planned. A few minutes later — it takes that long for a radio signal to make it back to Earth — we had received the first photos from Mars. Truly amazing.
Let’s not forget the lessons of the last 24 hours. That our faith in democracy is tested not when our own ideas or candidates win, but when others do. That democracy is difficult and fragile. That it shouldn't be taken for granted. That every generation must work hard to preserve it. And that we, as educators, have an essential responsibility to ensure that every generation is prepared to inherit this republic, make it its own, and make it better.
Georgia Tech's "Conversations on the Hill" series event in December centered around the Institute's response to Covid-19. The panel discussion included several of the Institute's leading experts who have played some of the most instrumental roles in Georgia Tech's response to the pandemic, including Julia Kubanek, professor and associate dean of the College of Sciences, who served as our moderator. We were joined by M.G. Finn, professor and James A. Carlos Family Chair for Pediatric Technology, Joshua Weitz, Patton Distinguished Professor in the School of Biological Sciences and director of the Quantitative Biosciences Graduate Program, and Greg Gibson, Patton Distinguished Professor in the School of Biological Sciences and Director of the Center for Integrative Genomics.