Articles, Blog

2017 Alumni Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

August 13, 2019


(calm music) (audience talking) – Welcome, everyone. If you can quickly grab a seat? We still have a few open chairs. Thank you so much. So, first a very warm welcome to all of the parents,
family, friends of graduates who are with us today. We are gathered today to
induct into the hall of fame, three new members. This is a tradition that has
been going on for a while now, for at least 15 years. And, since the department
has had now 8,000 alumni, less than one percent are
inducted to the Hall of Fame. As you can see, there’s not
that much space on the wall. This is a very high bar. We have an annual
nomination process each year before the inductees are selected and this year’s selection committee was Professor Ashok Agrawala, Professor Jeff Foster, Professor Jim Reggia. So round of applause for them. Thank you. (audience applauding) The alums to be selected today are Jagdeep Singh, Qiang
Yang and Rajiv Gandhi. Two of the three honories
we have the good fortune of being with us today. Both Jagdeep and Rajiv
were able to make it. Qiang is in Hong Kong and he had a three hour
lecture to deliver on Tuesday so he said if I come I
can only come this weekend and I will leave first
thing Monday morning so his plan is to be with
us sometime in September. I wanted to start by telling
you all a little story. The story goes back to
an ancient Indian epic called the Mahabharata and life as chair has been very interesting. Every crazy thing that happens to me, when I open the Mahabharata find it there. This was all set before. But the story begins about
a young kid named Arjun and Arjun was one of the five
brothers called the Pandavas and he was being trained in archery by his teacher called Drona. And one day Drona wanted to
teach everybody how to shoot and I guess they were in the process they had been training in, the final exam hadn’t happened yet. He took a little wooden bird and he stuck the wooden bird
on a tree across the stream. And he first called the
eldest brother, Yudhishthira, to come and said, “Pick
up your bow and arrow and aim to shoot the eye of the bird”. And then he asked Yudhishthira,
“What do you see?” and Yudhishthira probably
being very cheer like said, wanting to be comprehensive, and said, “Oh I see a tree, I see the stream, I see the sky, I see the bird, I even see the leaves
rustling on the tree, I see the grass”. He said, “No, I don’t think
you can do the task today. Why don’t you have a seat”. Other brothers were called up and they had very similar answers. They just tried to be more comprehensive than their eldest brother. And he informed all of them that none of them would be successful and then he called Arjun and he asked Arjun, “What do you see?”. Arjun said, “I only see
the eye of the bird”. He said, “Tell me
everything that you see”. He said, “I only see the eye of the bird”. The lesson that I got
out of this little story was to be successful in real
life, really successful, you have to have extreme focus and that’s one I think that distinguishes all of our honories today which is extreme focus and the ability to look
at a target ten years out and continuously work every
single day towards it. So I want to give them a — all three of one a round
of applause for them. (audience clapping) Our first honorary is Jagdeep Singh. Jagdeep got his undergraduate
degree here at the age of 19 I was told. Jagdeep has moved to
California, worked at HP. Eventually ended up getting degrees from Stanford and Berkeley both in Computer Science and Business. Founded a series of very
successful companies. The first company was Infinera, second one was Lightera and I was expecting the third company to also end with ‘era’ but he did enter the energy era by launching a new company
called QuantumScape which is in the world
of battery technologies. Several of us had the good fortune of visiting his office in San Jose as there never been amazing
battery technologies. So maybe eventually all of us will be able to afford to buy Tesla as well. Right now one of the big costs of Tesla is the amazing battery that they have that is extremely expensive. Jagdeep has been extremely successful. He was named as the ‘MIT Technology Review Innovator Under 35’ and I want to invite Jagdeep up to receive his award and also he’s up there on
the plaque on the right. (audience clapping) I want you to take a picture
of him holding the award. Okay so you are welcome to talk to them. I will hold this. (audience laughing) – Thank you so much Samir. Thank you the Maryland
Computer Science Department. It’s great to be back. I do come back every few years but this is — I haven’t been in the building — this building didn’t exist, I graduated 30 years ago and I was in the building that was — program. I just wanna say a few words and then I’ll come back to my career. So I have had the good fortune of starting a lot of
companies in Silicon Valley. My first company was
actually a software company focused on networking protocol and the next one was a system
company that made hardware and the third one was a company that made its own circuit
network chips we had a back off, a fathomable and a battery
company doing chemistry so it’s a pretty wide span of the world of from this to atoms to now chemistry. And I have to say that none of that would have been possible if God forbid fantastic
eduction that I had here at Maryland so I’m very
grateful to the school for giving me a chance
at the rest of life. My daughter, Noor, who’s
here is going to be starting in Maryland this fall. (audience applauding) Thank you again, great to be here. – Thanks so much. Our next honorary is Rajiv Gandhi. I’ve had the good fortune of knowing Rajiv for almost two decades. Rajiv was my PHD student. Rajiv has been accomplished in a number of very, very, remarkable things. So after he got his PHD here in 2003, he moved to Rutgers University in Camden and I’m sure he will share a little bit about his experience at Camden but what’s really remarkable about Rajiv is how not only is he able to be like one of the most effective educators that I have met in my life but he’s also able to inspire students to accomplish great things. Many of the students who worked with him have ended up in top PHD programs. Many of them are actually
here in Maryland. We’ve been very, very lucky
in landing some of them and since he lost his
venture about ten years ago, the first few of the students he sent here have already recently finished their PHDs. Rajiv won a number of
teaching awards both at Camden and he’s also been teaching
very popular classes at next door U Penn and
I heard from Penn Alumni that he’s easily by far
the top professor at U Penn in terms of the quality of his courses. Rajiv has also run a
number of extra programs. The one that impressed me the most was at a summer camp
that he’s been running for the last several years
at Princeton University which basically focuses
on discrete math and CS but focusing now at the high school level so there are kids who have
been coming to his camp for years and now are only in College and hopefully we’ll see some of them in the PHD program here
in the near future. So without further a due
I will invite Rajiv on. (audience applauding) So in deed welcome back Rajiv. He has come back to visit us fairly often. He lives about two hours
away at New Jersey. I wanna turn the mic over
to him to say a few words. – Thank you very much Samir
for the kind introduction. So first of all folks
it’s a tremendous honor to be inducted into the CIS
and CS alumni hall of fame. I was just trying to
reminisce my time here I mean since the time I came to Maryland. I came to Maryland in
1999, January of 1999. It’s a long story how I
came to Maryland and so on but you know when I first came here, I was a nervous graduate student trying to finish my PHD and I wasn’t even very
confident at that time whether I would be able
to fulfill that dream. Thanks to the able advising of Samir that enabled me to finish my PHD here so I’m very, very thankful
to Samir for that. Without having my PHD
I would not have been able to do the kind of work
that I’ve been involved in for the past 14 to 15 years. After I finished my PHD at Maryland, I went to Rutgers University in Camden. I had several offers and actually Rutgers Camden was probably the least ranked school and had I been single probably I will not
have chosen that school but for me and my wife that
was probably the right place and so I joined Camden. Camden is a place which is where a lot of the students come from very disadvantaged backgrounds. And you know when I joined Camden, the common theme was that you know, you just shut your door and do your work and you know just focus
on the research and so on. I joined academia primarily because I wanted to work with students. So since I joined Camden, I’ve been working very closely
with the students at Camden and it has been pretty
much the school focus that I mean essentially Samir said, focusing on the eye of the bird and that has been my focus. That is almost everything that I’ve done in the last 14, 15 years has been with the goal as to how I can help the schools at Camden
achieve that potential. So thanks a lot Rutgers — to the schools at Camden, had I not been at Camden, I would not have been able to
think about the kind of work that I have been doing. Had I been at any other place or most other places, I would have been doing
what generally is considered more fashionable in academia and doing the kind of
work that most schools. And then you know I was
very pleasantly surprised when Aravind emailed me sometime last year saying that you know he wanted
to nominate me for the — to be inducted into the hall of fame and I was … I’m pretty thankful to him because the work that I do is not considered very
fashionable in academia and still he considered
that my work was worthy of being given this honor so I’ll thank Aravind for that and I also want to thank the committee, Professor Agrawala, Professor Foster, for giving me this honor so thanks to all of you without which this would not have been possible. And finally you know I
want to thank my wife who supported me through the PHD when I was here and you know since then working at Camden, it has been long hours, it has been a very hard journey but without that support that would not have been possible so thank you for coming once again. (audience applauding) – Thanks Rajiv. So I wanted to say a few words about our third inductee who hopefully will visit us sometime in September and so we’ll have an awards ceremony. Their plaque is already up and we’ll set up pictures on this plaque. So Qiang Yang got his PHD here in 1989 who along with Professor Dana Nau, is considered the world leader in the area of data mining and AI. He has founded a number of journals. He was the founding research director at Huawei Technologies. He is a fellow of IEEE, AAAS … and AAAI. So I just want to give a round
of applause for Qiang Yang. (audience applauding) So finally a few words
for our young graduates who are now entering the — changing their status from
being student to alumni. This department will always be your home. This is a permanent relationship for life. There is no divorce. Once you graduate from UMD — and you’re always welcome
to come back and visit us. Hopefully one day your picture will be up on the wall here as well. I also wanted to thank Professor Bill Pugh who had the brilliant idea. Earlier on we had all
the alumni hall of famers up on a website so of course anybody could look them up sitting anywhere in the world but Bill’s idea was as our students enter their classes why not have them walk by a real wall where they get to see our
alums in the hall of fame, read about them and learn about them. I thought it was a brilliant idea and thanks Bill for that and he sat that up last year. So last year we had a
major event doing that. I also want to welcome back Paul Capriolo. Where is Paul? And Patrick Jenkins who were inducted into the hall of fame
about four years ago. They are both joining us. Thanks, welcome back. (audience applauding) Finally, I wanted to
thank all of our staff who have been wonderful in putting this entire event together. My last message is
actually for the parents. The parents entrusted us by handing their children over at the young age of 17, 18. So I feel like we are
like the little gardeners and gardening is very
hard for those of you trying to grow plants from little seeds so professors take an easier ground. We don’t start from the seeds. We start going to the nursery and getting plants that are
already maybe six inches tall. Makes your life a little bit easier but then we are the fertilizer that tries to keep that plant up and make it bigger and stronger and then one day they
accomplish great things. So thanks everyone for being here. Enjoy the events planned today and see that you really feel happy, proud and thank you. (audience applauding)

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