WPI Commencement Set for May 16 - General Motors Vice President is Keynote Speaker

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

Worcester, Mass. -- WPI's 130th Commencement will take place on Saturday, May 16, on the campus quadrangle beginning at 11 a.m. Ronald L. Zarrella, vice president and group executive of General Motors' NAO Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing, will be the keynote speaker. An estimated 900 students are expected to receive their degrees - 635 Bachelor's; 249 Master's; and 33 Ph.Ds.

Zarrella, a 1971 WPI electrical engineering graduate, will be honored for his contributions to industry with an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree. Other recipients of honorary Doctor of Engineering degrees will be: James L. Bartlett, Jr. (a WPI alumnus), president of Bardex Corp. in Goleta, Calif., a global technology leader in the design, manufacture and installation of heavy load handling, positioning, mooring, and tensioning systems for diverse industries; and George N. Hatsopoulos, chairman and chief executive officer of Thermo Electron Corp. of Waltham, Mass., a technology-driven company that provides products and services to address certain newly emerging societal needs. The senior class speaker will be Anne C. Pareti, a chemical engineering major form Meriden, Conn.

Following graduation from WPI in 1971 Zarrella held manufacturing, logistics and engineering management positions with Bristol Meyers Co. until 1978. He joined Playtex Corp. in 1979 as vice president of operations. He also served as assistant to the president of Playtex International and as a general manager of its Australian operations. He joined Bausch & Lomb in 1985 as president of operations for the Far-East, Latin America and Canada. He later held positions of president of their International Division and executive vice president. He became president and chief operating officer, and a member of its board of directors in 1993. He joined General Motors in December 1994.

Zarrella is active in WPI leadership as a member of its Board of Trustees serving as its co-vice chairman. In 1986 he received WPI's Ichabod Washburn Award for outstanding professional achievement by a young alumnus and in 1993 he received the WPI Hobart Newell Award for outstanding contributions to the electrical engineering profession. As a WPI student he was a member of the WPI Plan committee that restructured the university's educational curriculum.

George N. Hatsopoulos, originally from Greece, won a scholarship to MIT to study mechanical engineering where he was later a researcher and professor of mechanical engineering. He founded Thermo Electron in 1956 as a dream to create a company that would identify major emerging needs in society and create technologies to answer them. The company has worldwide sales of nearly $3.5 billion with 20,000 employees and operations in 22 countries. There are 22 publicly traded subsidiaries.

Thermo Electron has a unique way of doing business. The company "spins out" promising technologies and services by offering a minority share in newly created subsidiaries. In addition to raising capital to support growth, this innovative strategy stimulates the economy, fosters a strong entrepreneurial spirit among the company's employees, and brings new technologies to the marketplace.

James L. Bartlett Jr. received his degree in mechanical engineering from WPI in 1939 before beginning a successful career as an engineer-entrepreneur. He career included positions with Westinghouse Corp. and later Trane Co. He also later worked for Garrett Corp. in various capacities including chief engineer of Garrett's Rex Division. Beginning in 1958 he founded Cosmodyne Corp., specializing in cryogenic equipment for the storage, transport and handling of low-temperature liquid gases. He later became president and owner of Hydranautics, a company specializing in equipment for offshore drilling and heavy load moving in shipyards. In 1975 he led Hyranautics into the field of reverse osmosis desalination, becoming a major supplier of water purification equipment in the U.S. and the Middle East. In 1984 he established Bardex, a company that designs and manufactures hydraulic systems for lifting and moving heavy loads.

On Friday, May 15, the traditional Baccalaureate ceremony will be held in Alden Memorial Hall beginning at 5:30 p.m. The joint ROTC commissioning ceremony will take place at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 16, with Lt. Gen. David K. Heebner, assistant vice chief of staff for the U.S. Army, as the commissioning officer.