Approximately 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students will celebrate the Georgia Institute of Technology’s 242nd commencement at the Georgia Dome. Dr. Charles Vest, President, National Academy of Engineering, and President Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will address the doctoral and master’s ceremony at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 4, while Governor Nathan Deal will address the undergraduate ceremony at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 5.
Vest earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from West Virginia University in 1963, and M.S.E. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1964 and 1967, respectively. He joined the faculty of the University of Michigan as an assistant professor in 1968 where he taught in the areas of heat transfer, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics, and conducted research in heat transfer and engineering applications of laser optics and holography. He and his graduate students developed techniques for making quantitative measurements of various properties and motions from holographic interferograms, especially the measurement of three-dimensional temperature and density fields using computer tomography. He became an associate professor in 1972 and a full professor in 1977.
In 1981 Dr. Vest turned much of his attention to academic administration at the University of Michigan, serving as associate dean of engineering from 1981-86 and dean of engineering from 1986-1989, when he became provost and vice president for academic affairs. In 1990 he became president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and served in that position until December 2004. He then became professor and president emeritus.
In July 2007 he was elected to serve as president of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for six years. He has authored a book on holographic interferometry, and two books on higher education. He has received honorary doctoral degrees from seventeen universities. He was awarded the 2006 National Medal of Technology by President Bush and received the 2011 Vannevar Bush Award.
Deal’s rise to become the governor of Georgia is a story rich in the state’s history. Born in Millen to parents who were career educators, Deal grew up in Sandersville. His father, a high school agriculture teacher, taught him to love the land and those who produce its food and fiber.
Deal attended Mercer University in Macon, where he earned his undergraduate and law degrees with honors. In college, he answered the call of his country and began preparing for his full-time service in the United States Army, where he earned the rank of captain.
It was on a blind date during college that he met Sandra Dunagan of Gainesville. The Deals have been married since 1967, and their family now includes their four children and six grandchildren.
Deal’s career includes 23 years in private law practice. His public service includes his work as a criminal prosecutor, a juvenile court judge, 12 years in the state Senate and nine terms in the U.S. Congress.
His colleagues in the Senate elected him president pro tem, the highest-ranking senator. In Congress, he served as chairman and ranking member of the Subcommittee on Health. He was known on Capitol Hill as an expert on healthcare issues. As a leader on immigration reform, he authored the law that requires citizenship verification for health care benefits.