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Thank you, Trevor.
He just said before he left the podium
that there is a gift coming.
Thank you, Trevor, and Mike, thank
you very much for your thoughtful and truly inspiring
remarks and for choosing MIT for that remarkable announcement.
Thank you so very much.
To the graduates of 2019, once more, congratulations.
My job today is to deliver a charge to you,
and I'll get to that in a minute.
But first I want to recognize the people who
helped you charge this far.
To everyone who came here this morning to celebrate
our graduates, welcome to MIT.
And to the parents and families of today's graduates,
a huge congratulations to you as well.
This day is the joyful result of your loving support
and sacrifice.
Please accept our deep gratitude and admiration.
Now graduates, for this next acknowledgment
I'm going to need your help.
Over my left shoulder, there is a camera.
In a moment, I'm going to ask you, all of you,
to cheer and wave to it, all right?
Just cheer and wave.
And I would love it if you make it loud.
So next I'd like to offer a special greeting to all those
who are not able to come to campus
but who are cheering on today's graduates online from locations
all over the globe.
We're very glad to have you with us too.
So graduates, this is the moment.
Please cheer and wave.
No, wait.
I'm pretty sure you have taken physics and electricity,
so you must know something about amplification.
So let's try this again.
And remember, I still have your diplomas.
So one more time, let's cheer and wave.
Thank you.
It's truly great to have all of you
here on Killian Court on this wonderful day
for this tremendously important occasion.
But before we send our new graduates out into the world,
first I must beg your indulgence on behalf of my wife.
Christine Reif is a wonderful person.
In fact, she's sitting right there.
But she has one weakness.
She's crazy about astronauts and about outer space.
As you just heard by the commencement speaker,
July 20 of this year marks 50 years since the first human
walked on the moon.
For those of you graduating, I know
this is ancient history, your parents' history, maybe
your grandparents' history.
So perhaps not all of you have been
focused on the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.
But because Mrs. Reif also loves the Institute,
she has asked that, in addition to giving you a charge,
I also prepare you for a mission.
In the next few weeks, you will encounter
all sorts of moon-landing hoopla,
so she wants to make sure that every one of you
as well equipped with precisely engineered conversation
That way when people start talking on and on about NASA
and Houston and the great vision of President Kennedy,
you can steer the conversation right back to MIT.
If you listen carefully to our commencement speaker lecture,
you'll know how to answer what's coming next
because I'm going to give you one final little prep quiz.
I'll read the question, and you fill in the blank.
And please, make it loud.
And to the parents and grandparents, texting them
the answer is not allowed.
Question one-- in 1961, NASA realized that the moon landing
would require the invention of a computer guidance system
that was miniaturized, foolproof, and far more
powerful than any the world had ever seen.
So NASA did not call Harvard.
NASA called--
I know you would be good at this.
Question two-- the first person to walk on the moon was a man,
but at MIT, among the very first programmers hired
for the Apollo project was not a man but a--
Yes, a woman.
You got it.
Her name is Margaret Hamilton.
She played a key role in developing the software that
made the moon landing possible.
And by the way, Margaret Hamilton
was also one of the first to argue
that computer programming deserved as much respect
as computer hardware.
So she insisted on describing her work with a brand-new term,
software engineering.
OK, just one more.
Question three-- as you heard a moment ago,
the second person to walk on the moon was Buzz Aldrin.
Buzz was the first astronaut to have a doctoral degree,
and he earned it from the school that
has produced more astronauts than
any nonmilitary institution.
In fact, of the 12 humans who have walked on the moon,
four graduated from that same institution, which
is known by just three letters.
You are great.
I knew you could do it.
The beaver has landed.
Mrs. Reif, I believe they are ready.
As you prepare for liftoff, I'd like
to use the Apollo story to reflect on a few
larger lessons we hope you learned
at MIT because the spirit of that magnificent human project
speaks to this community's deepest values and its highest
The first lesson is the power of interdisciplinary teams.
We live in a culture that loves to single out heroes.
We love to crown superstars.
As graduates of MIT, however, I expect
you're already skeptical of stories of scientific triumph
that have only one hero.
You know by now that if you want to do something big like detect
gravitational waves in outer space or decode the human
genome or tackle climate change or finish an 801 pset before
sunrise, you cannot do it without a team.
As Margaret Hamilton herself would
be quick to explain, by 1968, the MIT Instrumentation
Laboratory had 600 people working
on the moon-landing software.
At its peak, the MIT hardware team was 400.
And from Virginia to Texas, NASA engaged thousands more.
In short, she was one star in a tremendous constellation
of talent.
And together-- together--
those stars created something impossible for any one of them
to create alone.
From your time at MIT, I trust all of you
have experienced that feeling of learning from each other,
respecting each other, and depending on each other.
And I hope that this instinct for sharing the work
and sharing the credit is something you never forget.
The moon-landing story reflects many other values--
to seek out bold ideas, to not be
afraid of impossible assignments,
and always to stay humble, especially when
it comes to the laws of nature.
The Apollo story also proves how much
human beings can accomplish when we invest in research
and we put our trust in science.
But the final lesson I want to emphasize is not technical,
and it could not be more important for our time.
As you heard earlier just over on that side of Killian Court,
showing off their spectacular red jacket
are more than 170 members of the class of 1969.
Apollo 11, as you heard, landed on the moon
a few weeks after their MIT graduation.
A number of them went on to work in fields
that were greatly accelerated by progress from Apollo 11.
One of them is Irene Greif, the first woman
to earn a PhD in computer science from MIT.
But I believe our 1969 graduates might all
agree on the most important wisdom we gained from Apollo.
It was the sudden intense understanding
of our shared humanity and of the preciousness and fragility
of our blue planet.
50 years later, those lessons feel more urgent than ever,
and I believe that as members of the great global family of MIT,
we must do everything in our power
to help make a better world.
So it is in that spirit that I deliver my charge to you.
I'm going to use a word that feels very comfortable at MIT,
although it has taken on a troubling new meaning
But I know that our graduates will know what I mean.
After you depart for your new destinations,
I want to ask you to hack the world until you make the world
a little more like MIT--
more daring and more passionate, more rigorous, inventive,
and ambitious, more humble, more respectful, more generous,
more kind.
And because the people of MIT also
like to fix things that are broken,
as you strive to hack the world, please
try to heal the world too.
Our society is like a big complicated family in the midst
of a terrible argument.
I believe that one way to make it better
is to find ways to listen to each other,
to understand our differences, and to work constantly
to remind each other of our common humanity.
I know you will find your own ways to help with this healing
This morning, we share with the world
nearly 3,000 new graduates who are
ready for this urgent and timeless problem set.
You came to MIT with exceptional qualities of your own,
and now after years of focused and intense dedication,
you leave us equipped with a distinctive set of skills
and steeped in this community's deepest values--
a commitment to excellence, integrity, meritocracy,
boldness, humility, an open spirit of collaboration,
a strong desire to make a positive impact,
and a sense of responsibility to make the world a better place.
So now go out there.
Join the world.
Find your calling.
Solve the unsolvable.
Invent the future.
Take the high road.
Shoot for the moon.
And you will continue to make your family, including
your MIT family, proud.
On this wonderful day, I am proud of all of you.
To every one of the members of the graduating class of 2019,
please accept my best wishes for a happy and successful life
and career.