On Moonshots: A Message to the Community

DEPARTMENT(S): 
July 17, 2019

A Message from President Laurie Leshin 

This week we celebrate a very special anniversary: 50 years ago our nation achieved the dream of Robert Goddard, John F. Kennedy, and so many others, when we sent brave astronauts on a journey to the Moon. With the eyes of the world upon them, these daring explorers took humankind’s first steps on another world.  It was a mission made perfect when NASA’s scientists and engineers returned the Apollo 11 crew safely to the Earth. 

Although some of us are too young to have directly experienced the feat, many of us have stories of staying up late to be an eyewitness to what was a defining moment in the history of humanity (on tiny black & white TVs!). I’d love to hear YOUR story about watching the Apollo launches and landings – feel free to reply to this note and tell me yours!

Apollo demonstrated that we could achieve almost impossible, unimaginable things, through vision, investment, innovation, and most importantly, teamwork. The Apollo astronauts knew perfectly well that they were standing on the shoulders of WPI graduate Robert Goddard, Class of 1908. We should all be proud of the role our own institution played in enabling Neil and Buzz to take their historic steps on the dusty lunar surface.

Perhaps the most important lesson of Apollo is not to be daunted by bold challenges. Apollo’s greatest gift is the imparted belief that what seems impossible can be made possible with grit, smarts and collaboration. It’s no coincidence that when there are big problems to be solved, or opportunities to be grasped, we call them moonshots. 

It is so fitting that the WPI Plan was launched 50 years ago next May, and I am proud to say that we are still a community dedicated to using our knowledge, skills, and tenacity to solve important problems, all while creating and seizing opportunities. In many ways, The Plan was WPI’s moonshot, and I’m sure our boldness was - in part - inspired by Apollo. 

We will spend some time celebrating The Plan’s great success in the coming year. And we can look forward confidently that we have more moonshots to come. To that end, we will create WPI’s next Strategic Plan this year to capture our plans for a bright future. 

I’m excited to work on exploring our next frontier with all of you. In the meantime, I encourage you to be bold, and shoot for the Moon!