WORCESTER, Mass. — The following local students were awarded degrees at Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s 149th commencement on May 11. Nearly 800 masters and doctoral degrees were awarded.

Adam Benedict, of Hallowell, was awarded a Master of Science degree in electrical and computer engineering.

Sean Deans, of Litchfield, was awarded a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering.

Julia Pershken of Albion, was awarded a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering with distinction.

President Laurie A. Leshin and Board of Trustees Chairman Jack T. Mollen presided over the ceremony, which included the awarding of an honorary doctor of science degree to Audrey Carlan ’57, who received the first graduate degree awarded by WPI to a woman-15 years before the first female undergraduates were awarded degrees.

“Today, as I look out at all of you, I am struck most by the amazing potential for breaking new ground that I see here in front of me,” said Leshin in a news release from the institute.


The keynote address was given by Deborah Wince-Smith, president and CEO of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness. Wince-Smith, a key leader in recharging the national debate on competitiveness, innovation, and resilience, also received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

Likening the WPI students assembled to the “innovative, hopeful, future-oriented entrepreneurs and industrialists” of Worcester’s past, Wince-Smith urged the graduates to use their skills and the “game-changing technologies” in fields such as data science, genetics, biotechnology, and computer science to change the world for the better. “Bestowed with the power of knowledge, you must now embrace the hard work every generation must undertake to improve the human condition.”

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI is one of the nation’s first engineering and technology universities. Its 14 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, business, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. WPI’s talented faculty work with students on interdisciplinary research that seeks solutions to important and socially relevant problems in fields as diverse as the life sciences and bioengineering, energy, information security, materials processing, and robotics. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through the university’s innovative Global Projects Program. There are more than 40 WPI project centers throughout the Americas, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe.

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