I Give

2005-2006

WPI To Recognize a Technology Innovator, a Youth Advocate, and an African Educator at 138th Commencement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/April 20, 2006
Contact: WPI Media Relations, +1-508-831-5609

WORCESTER, Mass. - April 20, 2006 - Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will award honorary doctorates to commencement speaker Curtis R. Carlson, president and CEO of SRI International; Marian Heard, a nationally recognized advocate for children and families; and Tjama Tjivikua, founder and head of the Polytechnic of Namibia, at its 138th Commencement exercises on May 20.

Curtis R. CarlsonCurtis R. Carlson will deliver the Commencement address to WPI's Class of 2006. Carlson is president and CEO of SRI International in Menlo Park, Calif., an independent, nonprofit global research institute known for developing such world-changing innovations as the computer mouse, the cell phone, and high-definition television. Before assuming his current post in 1998, he helped found more than a dozen new companies during a career with RCA Laboratories, which became Sarnoff Corporation, an SRI subsidiary. A 1967 WPI graduate, he holds fundamental patents in the fields of image quality, image coding, and computer vision. His book, Innovation: The Five Disciplines for Creating What Customers Want, which describes SRI's unique process for innovation, will be released in June.

Carlson has helped lead teams that have received two Emmy Awards for initiating the high-definition television (HDTV) program that became the U.S. standard and developed a system to measure broadcast image quality. After receiving a BS in physics from WPI, he earned a PhD in geophysical fluid dynamics at Rutgers University in 1973.

Mariam HeardMarian Heard's 30 years of service to the United Way in Connecticut and Massachusetts, including 12 years as president and CEO of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, were notable for exceptional fund-raising and program development accomplishments. In Massachusetts, she launched the award-winning initiative "Success by 6" to ensure all children begin school ready to learn, and spearheaded the drive for the Massachusetts "Invest in Children" license plate, which now generates $30,000 monthly for children's programs. Heard is also founding president and CEO of the Points of Light Foundation, organized at the behest of former President George H. W. Bush to address the nation's social problems. She has received numerous local, regional, and national awards, including the Others Award, the highest civilian award given by the Salvation Army, and 15 honorary degrees. In 1998, she was named National Public Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers.

Recipient of an associate's degree from the University of Bridgeport, a bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a master's degree in education at Springfield College, Heard completed the Executive Leadership Program at the University of Michigan. Today she devotes her energies to leadership development and brand enhancement programs for individuals, groups, and corporations as president and CEO of Boston-based Oxen Hill Partners, a division of Heard Enterprises, LLC. She will join her son, Derek M. Heard 90, and daughter-in-law, Kimberly Main Heard 91, as members of WPI's alumni body.

Tjama TjivikuaTjama Tjivikua, rector (chief executive) of the Polytechnic of Namibia, has tripled the size of the student body and made remarkable infrastructure improvements since he founded the university in Windhoek in 1995. To help meet the critical need for graduates in engineering and information technology in southwest Africa, he has increased the number of internationally recognized degree programs through the master's level, including the nation's first master's degrees in information and technology and international business, and a well-regarded land management program.

Since 2002, Tjivikua has worked closely with WPI professor of management Arthur Gerstenfeld to welcome WPI students to the Namibia Project Center, where they spend seven weeks working on projects that examine the impact of technology on society. "We are developing for development," he has said, emphasizing that the way to Africa's future is through education.

Tjivikua's own education began in Namibia under apartheid. He left Namibia in 1979 to pursue higher education in the United Sates with a United Nations Fellowship. He received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Lincoln University, a master's in organic chemistry from the University of Lowell, and a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh. He taught and did research as a visiting scientist at MIT, and was an assistant professor at Lincoln University before returning to Namibia in 1995 to found the Polytechnic. On May 23, Tjivikua will be a panelist on educational partnerships at WPI's third US-Africa Business Conference, "Building Partnerships for Economic Opportunities in Africa: The Way Forward."

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI was one of the first engineering and technology universities in the nation. WPI's 18 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, management, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to the BS, MS, ME, MBA and PhD. WPI's world-class faculty work with students in a number of cutting-edge research areas, leading to breakthroughs and innovations in such fields as biotechnology, fuel cells, nanotechnology, and information security. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through our innovative Global Perspectives program. There are over 20 WPI project centers throughout North America and Central America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe.