Bertram Delivers Commencement Address at MSOE, Receives Honorary Degree

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Vince Bertram received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) Saturday morning, just minutes before delivering the keynote commencement address at the university’s Spring Commencement ceremonies.

When asked by PLTW why Bertram was selected to participate in the university’s commencement ceremonies, MSOE President Dr. Hermann Viets said: “PLTW is a mainstay of MSOE. The percentage of MSOE students with PLTW experience has grown in each of the last half dozen years. PLTW’s well-prepared students graduate at a higher rate and are leaders in their classes.”

In front of a crowd of over 3,000 students and their friends and families, as well as MSOE faculty and staff, Bertram charged graduates to make a difference through their future endeavors and to strive for a life of significance over success. He talked about the meaning of PLTW’s work and mission to prepare students for the global economy, telling those gathered that in light of the significant skills gap and hundreds of thousands of jobs left unfilled despite high unemployment, this work has never been more urgent. “We need more people like you,” Bertram told the graduates, continuing that some of the most meaningful work they have to offer is their ability to mentor and positively impact the next generation.

He told the story of his high school custodian and the positive impact he made on his life when he was an impressionable high school student, feeling lost and unsure of what direction his life may take him. “We can lead from any seat; and leadership is not a title or a position, it is a shared responsibility for all of us,” Bertram said. “MSOE graduates, we need you. Your state, your community, your nation needs you. As you continue writing your story, remember: you can write whatever you want, but you can write it only once.”

Following his commencement address, Bertram received a standing ovation from the audience.

Since becoming PLTW’s Affiliate University in Wisconsin in 2004, the Milwaukee School of Engineering has become a destination university for PLTW students across the country, and also for middle and high school teachers who need PLTW core training. Students at MSOE who had previous PLTW experience on their application are enjoying a 100% placement rate and a 2.4 percent higher starting salary than the whole graduating class.

Project Lead The Way is proud to call the Milwaukee School of Engineering an affiliate university and congratulates the graduation Class of 2013!

View a recording of Bertram’s address to the graduates (available May 29).