Congratulations, Olin's class of 2008. You're probably getting sick of people saying "congratulations!" all the time, so here's a request to boost the information value (read: decrease the predictability) of this post.
There was a whole lot of speechifyin' today about how you, as engineers, are supposed to go out and build/invent/create/construct/make the future. My request is that you keep two words in mind while doing so: "viral" and "exponential growth." In other words, part of "building the future" is to get other people to build it as well - and to build it their way. (The corollary being if you want it to be built "your" way, you'd better make your way their way as well.)
Mm. Going to Commencement this year was good in that I got to see people I loved that I hadn't seen for a long time and celebrate a special rite of passage with a community that's shaped each other's lives in powerful ways. It was also good in that it gave me a sense of closure that I hadn't gotten as much during my own graduation. Last May, I was in some sense being dragged kicking and screaming out of the nest. It was still home. This time I recognized that it wasn't in a way that was more than intellectual. Olin's a place that used to be a home for me, and in some ways always will be, but it's not where I am now. It's the thought that "oh yes, I did graduate." It feels strange... and good, in a strange sort of way.