WPI Seaport Opening Remarks

DEPARTMENT(S): 
January 31, 2018
Good morning and welcome to WPI Seaport, our new, multi-purpose innovation, education, and collaboration space! With this launch, we open a new chapter for WPI, embodying our goal to elevate our impact in communities around the Commonwealth and around the world.
 
It’s great to see so many friends and new neighbors here. We are especially delighted that our wonderful partners, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Worcester Mayor Joe Petty have joined us to provide their perspective on the promise that WPI Seaport holds for the Commonwealth, for Boston, and for Worcester.
 
I would also like to welcome MA Secretary of Energy & Environmental Affairs (and proud graduate of the WPI Class of 2001) Matt Beaton and MA Secretary of Housing & Economic Development Jay Ash (Jay, it’s still not too late for you to attend WPI). We are so pleased you could join us today. 
 
These wonderful leaders, and all of you, are here today because we all share a common goal: to grow the economy and improve the quality of life for people all across Massachusetts.
 
WPI Seaport, here in the innovation district in Boston, will allow us to deepen already meaningful partnerships with area companies such as GE and Amazon Robotics. And we’re excited to identify new alliances with organizations working to advance high tech industries and drive entrepreneurship, like Mass Challenge and Mass Robotics.
 
We already share common interests and areas of expertise with many of Massachusetts’ most successful companies, working in critical areas like digital health, robotics, cyber security, data sciences, & financial technology. But we want to do even more to drive  economic prosperity and innovation. And the key to that is deeper collaboration.
 
So we’ve come to Boston to build relationships and show off the great ideas and extraordinary talent coming out of Worcester. But to be clear, we understand the extraordinary potential for growth that exists in Worcester itself. From biotech to advanced manufacturing, our home city’s innovative spirit is alive and well.
 
In fact, I like to describe this space as our “Wormhole to Worcester.” WPI Seaport will serve as an ‘embassy’ through which to introduce major companies to our high caliber students and alumni, and to our amazing faculty, education, and research. Through WPI Seaport, we can better facilitate connections with some of the state’s best-known innovators, and we will be working every day bring the benefits of those connections back to Worcester.
 
The university has numerous key collaborators across the Commonwealth, and in fact, WPI’s approach to STEM education is so distinctive because of the real-world project work that our students and faculty engage in with partners at over 45 project centers all over the world. Our Boston project center is no exception and is in fact one of our longest running centers. In the pasttwo  decades, nearly 400 WPI students have completed over 120 highly impactful projects with sponsors such as the City of Boston, Boston Harbor Association and the New England Aquarium. WPI Seaport will now serve as a home base for our Boston Project Center. In addition to expanded project opportunities, we envision industry-centric events, greater connections with our alumni, classes taking place, and research collaborations taking flight.
 
If you haven’t already, please spend a few minutes speaking with some of our extraordinary faculty and students who are here today. Their work is fascinating and world-changing. For example, you might learn how our biomedical engineers are using spinach leaves as scaffolds for supporting heart cells; or about advanced robots that can execute highly specialized surgery; you can see data visualization tools that are literally changing the way we interact with information, and
captivating new advances in financial technology.
 
Students from undergraduate to Masters and PhD levels are playing key roles in this cutting-edge research, all while growing the leadership capabilities that will support the rapid scale up of Massachusetts’ innovation industries. These students & faculty and the work they are sharing today represent only a small slice of what WPI has to offer our partners here and what will become more visible to them thru WPI Seaport.
 
And the truth is that the world is changing fast for the citizens of the Commonwealth, and for the students of today. The Uber I took here this morning, the tweet I’m going to share right now…the iPhone I can’t imagine living without – these weren’t even on our radar screen just a handful of years ago.
 
Institutions of higher education need to innovate now more than ever to help light the way for people to succeed in this fast-paced, tech-enabled world. To both impart the most current skill-sets needed to succeed, but even more importantly, to instill a learning mindset– a way of being that embraces the need to never stop learning. Not all universities are up to the challenge of equipping students for our dynamic future. But WPI is – in fact, we embrace the opportunity. WPI Seaport is part of our answer to this call.
 
So thank you all for being a part of WPI’s next chapter – connecting innovation in Boston to opportunity in Worcester and vice versa. When we bring together WPI’s creative engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurial spirit with some of the most innovative companies and
professionals working in our Commonwealth today, I believe the potential for impact is boundless.
 
Note: These remarks have been slightly edited from the original speech.