May 8, 2023

As Commencement 2023 kicks into high gear, WPI students reflected on how their projects, friendships, accomplishments, and even failures brought them to this exciting transition. Those featured below represent only a tiny slice of our dynamic campus community. A hearty congratulations to all of our graduates! 

 Reflecting on a New Sorority’s First Year  


5 students in blue jackets standing outside in front of trees in a forest setting

Zeta Phi Beta members Cayla Jumpp, Jada Smith, Marissa Desir, Lauryn Whiteside, and Jessica Rhodes  

"I had always been interested in joining a Greek-letter organization, but the lack of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) representation made me wary because I felt like there was not a space for me. Having this chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., on campus creates a space within WPI’s Greek Life community that supports BIPOC students. For me personally, it offers the opportunity to freely showcase my uniqueness and academic prowess as a Black woman at a predominantly white institution. This year (our first full year), all the members of our chapter developed a strong support system, and I hope that other BIPOC women at WPI, especially incoming students, will benefit from our experience.”  

—Marissa Desir, BS, Biochemistry, Zeta Phi Beta president 

Stretching Beyond the Comfort Zone 


three students standing by a poster presentation, two on left and one on right, commencement story


Joshua DeBare, Cameron Morreale, Kelsey Moody  

Despite varied expectations and an intense timeline, the Worcester Fab Lab Blockchain and Machine Learning Major Qualifying Project (MQP) team says they gained excellent skills. "We know this project will serve us after graduation because we learned how to manage expectations and conflicts with many different people. We also learned how to explain our results in ways that anyone unfamiliar with artificial intelligence and blockchain technology can understand. All of this will be critical for all of us after graduation as we work with people of varying skill sets and understanding." 

—Joshua Debare, Mabel Konadu, Kelsey Moody, Cameron Morreale, Qingbei Shang, BS, variously representing Computer Science, Data Science, Management Engineering 

Bringing an Idea to Life 


male student sitting at a table holding a handheld puzzle game for commencement story

When Maanav Iyengar arrived at WPI four years ago, he went to WPI’s Office of Technology Commercialization with an idea for a hand-held game that he developed with some of his high school friends. Today, Phase Maze, which challenges users to guide a ball bearing through intricate mazes of varying difficulty, is readying for a future spot on store shelves. “I could have started my company myself,” says Iyengar, “but WPI offers me all the protection I need, so when I go to the ‘big dogs’ I know I’m not going to get completely rolled over.” 

—Maanav Iyengar, BS, Robotics Engineering 

Learning About Leadership—and Why it Matters


Shruti Mendon sitting in a red adirondack chair on the quad, commencement

“During my master’s program I learned a lot of technical and managerial skills, which was my intention from the beginning, but I also learned leadership skills and understand now why those are important. I did my capstone with Professor Brent French and some of the assignments took me out of my comfort zone, but it was indeed worth all the effort! I’ve accumulated a lot of knowledge over the past two years, and it still hasn’t struck me that I hold a master’s degree!”

—Shruti Menon, MS, Information Technology

Finding a New Approach to Alpine Ski Edge Sharpness & Slicing  


students with presenters at an awards ceremony, holding an award paper in front of themselves

Dylan Flegel and RJ Kern, with representatives from the International Congress on Science and Skiing 

Dylan Flegel and RJ Kern, with representatives from the International Congress on Science and Skiing  

In March, Dylan Flegel and RJ Kern won the Young Investigator Award for best poster at the International Congress on Science and Skiing for a poster that reflected their MQP work. The duo analyzed how variations in the sharpness and geometry of downhill ski edges affects the depth and seriousness of lacerations that can happen during crashes or falls. “When ski racers crash, the edge of the ski can cut the skin open. We wanted to figure out if there’s a type of sharpening method that makes the edge of the ski more—or less—dangerous,” says Flegel. Using a custom-built machine that measured ski edges’ slicing performance, Flegel and Kern found a correlation between the curvature of an edge and slicing performance. In the future, their findings on the effect of edge geometry on slicing—rather than shaving or cutting—could be applied in other fields, including healthcare and the food industry.

 —Dylan Flegel and Richard (RJ) Kern, BS, Mechanical Engineering 

Recognizing How Hard Work Pays Off  


student standing with statue of goat on quad, commencement story

“My best memory of WPI is working on research projects as an undergraduate researcher. Working as an undergraduate researcher is difficult—there is a lot of hard work and long hours—but it is also the best experience I had at WPI. It gave me the opportunity to meet many brilliant and hardworking WPI students, many of whom I became great friends with. Working as an undergraduate researcher also allowed me to meet many great professors who gave me opportunities to apply what I learned in class to real-world problems.”   

—Shu Guo, BS, Mechanical Engineering 

Discovering Limitless Potential 


students standing in front of a blue background at an awards ceremony, holding awards, for commencement story

Michael Beskid, Robert Devlin, Calista Carrignan, Toshak Patel, Ryan Brunelle, and Kofi Sarfo 

 Michael Beskid, Robert Devlin, Calista Carrignan, Toshak Patel, Ryan Brunelle, and Kofi Sarfo 

"The most important finding of our MQP was the unique and seemingly limitless potential of multi-terrain traversal. When we first started this project, we never realized the scope of applicability of a fully autonomous underwater vehicle. We attended a student conference held by the AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) in Buffalo, NY, winning the first-place prize in the Team Category, which gives us the opportunity to present our findings at the SciTech Conference in January 2024. Being able to go to one of the largest aerospace engineering conferences to network and develop ourselves as engineers will likely have lasting impacts on our professional careers. Without the support and guidance of the faculty and department, we never would have had the chance to create an award-winning design such as this one, and for that we—the PoseiDrone team—will be forever grateful."

Michael Beskid, Ryan Brunelle, Calista Carrignan, Robert Devlin, Toshak Patel, and Kofi Sarfo, BS, Aerospace Engineering, Robotics Engineering 

Representing Fours Years in One Day 


student in winter gear standing in front of a rainbow and in front of a waterfall, for commencement story

“When I first came to WPI, I never thought I would be capable of achieving a BS in biology/biotechnology and pre-medicine, while exploring so many clubs and organizations on campus, developing as a person, and making lifelong friendships. Commencement is such a special ceremony to me as I can fully believe that ‘I did it, I graduated.’ Commencement represents my best friends. Commencement represents my self-discovery. Commencement represents the first achievement of many, and I cannot wait to see what is next.”  

—Susanna Oppong, BS, Biology/Biotechnology

Leading the Way with an MFA 


female student in commencement black cap and gown holding diploma

“I am proud to have been part of a program that recognizes the impact of the arts on technology, and I look forward to a future where creativity and innovation are valued equally, and where the arts and technology are seen as complementary rather than mutually exclusive.” 

Laurie Mazza, BS Computer Science (CS) ’18, BA IMGD ’18, MS CS ’22 (pictured above at Commencement 2022), and first graduate of WPI’s new MFA in Interactive Media & Game Development 

Learning to Fail Brings Success 


students standing in front of a pale purple curtain after receiving an award, for commencement story

Matthew Haahr, Kalina Bonofiglio, Maya Angeles, Lauryn Whiteside, Brandon Simpson, and Josh Palmer

Matthew Haahr, Kalina Bonofiglio, Maya Angeles, Lauryn Whiteside, Brandon Simpson, and Josh Palmer  

“Over the course of the academic year, our team learned both technical skills and non-technical skills for our MQP project Robot Ecosystems for Monitoring Climate Change [REMCC]. One hallmark of engineering is the iterative design process, and, by the end of our project, we have learned that the best way to succeed is to fail quickly. Using this information, we were able to accomplish our goal of submitting a paper to the IEEE RoboSoft Conference. It was a rewarding experience to both present our work to professionals in the field and learn about the most recent work in the field of soft robotics.”  

—Maya Angeles, Kalina Bonofiglio, Matthew Haahr, Josh Palmer, Brandon Simpson, Lauryn Whiteside, BS, Robotics Engineering, Mechanical Engineering 

Sharing an Achievement 


male student on left in black commencement cap and gown and holding diploma standing with his arm around shoulder of his brother

“I’m a first-generation college student. It already meant the world to me last year when I crossed that stage to receive my bachelor’s. Just a year later, that same first-generation college student is receiving his master’s. I might have done the work these past few years but it’s as much my parents’ achievement as it is mine. My first name might be on these degrees, but our last name is also there, and I think that is the greatest gift commencement brings.” 

—Lorenzo Lopez, MS, Cybersecurity (pictured above with his brother at Commencement 2022)


Commencement 2023 Highlights

WPI's Commencement ceremonies are full of meaning and celebration. Watch a quick recap of how the campus honors the Class of 2023.