Congratulations to the Class of 2016!


“Engineers have been changing the world for thousands of years. Today that responsibility and honor is yours,” said Kathryn “Kit” Gordon in her address to graduates of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Illinois. Gordon, former director of technology for QuickLogic and co-founder of Botanic Organic, praised students for their achievements and said she was eager to experience the world they create.

This May, 104 seniors received their bachelor’s degrees and three graduate students earned their doctoral degrees in Chemical Engineering. The department ceremony was held on Sunday, May 15, 2016, at the Tryon Festival Theater in the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. A reception followed in a tent on Centennial Plaza, between Noyes Laboratory and Chem Annex.

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Convocation 2016
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Convocation 2016

Convocation speaker and Rockford native Kit Gordon earned a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois in 1983. Upon graduating, she worked in the semiconductor industry. She was granted 15 patents on amorphous silicon anti-fuse technology obtained during her work at QuickLogic Corp., a Silicon Valley startup where she served as Director of Technology until 1999. Gordon earned an MS in Electrical Engineering in 1989 and an MBA in 2001, both from Santa Clara University. She retired from industry soon after QuickLogic went public on the NASDAQ, and now advises agencies and non-profits on water resource management. She is married with one child and enjoys spending time in nature.

Gordon outlined three pieces of advice for graduates: “Find a workplace that sparks your creativity, embrace teamwork and start creating your advisory board today.”

“My message to you is to explore your options and stay curious. Your degree opens doors in a wide range of industries and companies. Be open to opportunities and explore unusual options, ones that come along when you’re looking for something else. Let yourself be surprised by your reactions. You may be energized by environments you were avoiding or unaware of,” Gordon said.

She suggested graduates seek out experienced people who can guide them through their career decisions. A mentor can advocate for you and coach you through difficult projects and be a sounding board for important presentations, she said. Don’t forget professors, fellow graduates, friends and family—keep in touch with them. “Draw on their wisdom,” she advised.

Convocation speaker Kit Gordon (BS '83) and Department Head Paul Kenis
Convocation speaker Kit Gordon (BS ’83) and Department Head Paul Kenis

Dr. Paul Kenis, William H. and Janet G. Lycan Professor and Department Head, said he and his colleagues were very proud of the graduates’ accomplishments. “We hope we have given you the education that will help you to be successful, and we wish you best of luck in your professional and personal lives,” he said.
Kenis urged graduates to stay in touch with the department. “In years to come, we hope to see many of you back on campus to share your achievements with us, just as Kathryn Gordon did today.”

Top honors

This year, four Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering seniors will have their names inscribed on the university’s Bronze Tablets: David S. Braker, Timothy Linghau Chen, Sasha B. Ebrahimi, and Jae Kwan Song. Bronze Tablet students must have at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA through the academic term prior to graduation, and rank in the top 3 percent of their graduating class. The Bronze Tablet tradition dates back to 1925.

James Scholars who graduated this spring included Zeynep Ali, Timothy Chen, Sasha Ebrahimi, Kevin Erning, Sophie Friedman, Pawel Grimm, Christopher Janke, Alexander Olenskyj, Amanda Pritchard, Shayta Roy, Jae Kwan Song, Brandon Sprenger, Jae Kwan Song, Brandon Sprenger, Amelia Witcoski, and Rosa Wu. The James Scholars honors program encourages academically gifted students to fully develop their intellectual abilities and achieve the college’s highest academic recognition.

Chancellor’s Scholars who graduated this year included Nicholas Connolly and Benjamin Rosenberg. Chancellor’s Scholars are selected for the Campus Honors Program as freshmen or sophomores for their academic excellence and leadership potential.

Please visit the Department’s Facebook page for a gallery of photos.