President Robert S. Nelsen speaks to CSUS graduates

Students from the College of Engineering and Computer Science were among the Sacramento State graduates saluted during a ceremony Saturday, May 21, 2016 at Sleep Train Arena.
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Students from the College of Engineering and Computer Science were among the Sacramento State graduates saluted during a ceremony Saturday, May 21, 2016 at Sleep Train Arena.
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Education

Mechanical engineering student lauded during CSUS graduation ceremony

By Jessica Hice

jhice@sacbee.com

May 21, 2016 06:11 PM

More than 4,900 Sacramento State graduates will flock to Sleep Train Arena for commencement ceremonies this weekend. Students from the College of Engineering and Computer Science were among the celebrants during a ceremony Saturday afternoon.

The ceremony’s theme was “Giving Back to the Community.” The college dean, Lorenzo Smith, opened the speeches by reading a part of Aesop’s fable about a dog and his reflection. In the fable, a dog carries a piece of meat in his mouth. Upon seeing his reflection in a river, he thinks another dog has a better steak than him. The steak drops in the river as the dog growls at his own reflection.

Smith told students to be proud of their graduation day and their accomplishments, unlike the dog.

Smith thanked parents and grandparents who collectively produced “small, good deeds” to aid in the graduates’ lives.

“And even though you are here because of your accomplishments, you are also here because of the parents who did those small little things for you,” Smith said.

As Smith encouraged the students to smile, he told them to not feel bad about it. Don’t lose that enthusiasm. It’s a big deal,” he said.

CSUS President Robert S. Nelsen said he loves graduations because he enjoys seeing dreams come true.

“It makes you want to cry. It touches you emotionally,” Nelsen said.

In his speech, Nelsen told students that their stories amaze him. He saluted Christopher Potts of Carmichael, a Dean Award winner.

Nelsen called Potts, 22, a mechanical engineering graduate, a student who gives back. “Academically, (he is) excellent. The work that he does is affecting other students,” he said.

Potts, along with CSUS engineering students Jacob Spivak and Matt Kovacic, teamed with faculty to produce a composite press for the college. The press, a $12,000 senior project, takes materials that are different, like different fibers or metals, and presses them together to make a reinforced product. “Team Meet the Press,” as they call themselves, also created a user manual and website for their product (www.meetthepresscomposites.org).

Potts worked closely with engineering professor Troy Topping to redesign an engineering materials course and assisted with teaching a few laboratory classes this spring.

“It’s not just me. It takes more than one person to do something great,” Potts said.

Potts was raised by a single mom, Alicia Santo Potts, a first-grade teacher. “I had 13 mothers, all of the teachers,” Potts said, commenting on the classrooms his mother worked in as his home-away-from home.

Jessica Hice: 916-321-1550