1,500 RWTH Graduates Fling their Caps Into the Air

Graduiertenfest 2023 Copyright: © Andreas Schmitter

When they have finished their studies or completed their doctorate, university graduates go out into the wider world, taking their learning with them. Coming together one more time, celebrating together once more before embarking into the world of work – that's the idea behind RWTH Aachen University's graduation celebration. 1,500 graduates gathered in the dressage stadium on the grounds of the CHIO Aachen World Equestrian Festival on Saturday to celebrate with their parents, friends, and former fellow students.


1,500 caps were flung into the sky – the highlight of this year's Graduation Celebration and the moment that everyone will remember for a long time.

Throwing her cap into the air – that's what Dr. Melanie Maas-Brunner would also have liked to have done at her graduation. Maas-Brunner, member of the Board of Executive Directors and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of BASF SE as well as winner of the 2023 Aachen Engineering Award, gave the keynote speech at the event. She still remembers her own graduation after successfully completing her chemistry degree at RWTH: “However, I had to pick up my degree certificate in a bare office room,” she told the audience on Saturday afternoon.

She encouraged the graduates to be bold, to believe in innovation, and to use their excellent education wisely: “Use what you have learned here at university, be optimistic and daring, don't be afraid of setbacks and mistakes, fight for your goals – and reach for the stars. It will be worth it!” For Maas-Brunner, studying in Aachen was all the more worthwhile: as she revealed with a smile, she met her future husband at the graduation party of the Department of Chemistry.

The students-turned-graduates had already been enjoying the sunny day at Aachen Soers since the morning. Daniel Eguiguren had recently earned his master's degree in computer science, and of course he did not have to spend this very memorable day alone: “I’m excited and happy to be at the Graduation Celebration today. My parents came all the way from Ecuador to Aachen two days ago to celebrate with me.”

Nishad Bagwe and Ashish Gawali, who earned their bachelor's degree in India, have now completed their master's in production systems engineering in Aachen: “We met at an advising center which provided us with information about studying in Aachen. And now we are both celebrating our degree together – isn't that wonderful?!” As always, the graduates, including Daniel, Nishad, and Ashish, were welcomed with a round of applause as they entered the stadium together, where they were greeted by RWTH Chancellor Manfred Nettekoven, who co-hosted the event with his usual aplomb, addressing the audience in multiple languages.

“Coming together one more time to say ‘We made it!’ creates a moment that graduates will always remember fondly, and that's what the graduation celebration is all about”, said Prof. Ulrich Rüdiger, Rector of RWTH Aachen University, who led the program together with Prof. Sabine Brück-Dürkop, RWTH’s Vice-Rector for Human Resources Management and Development.

“As graduates of this prestigious University of Excellence, you will be in great demand on the job market," said Ina Brandes. In a video message, the NRW Minister of Science expressed her delight about the “highly skilled employees of tomorrow, who will shape our future and our country”. She encouraged the young academics to “get involved, bring in your interests and your passion – and of course, I'd be delighted if you were to do so here in North Rhine-Westphalia.”

Not entirely altruistically, Aachen's Lord Mayor Sibylle Keupen bade farewell to the students: “I would love for you to stay here or come back to Aachen at a later time in your life and help to advance this wonderful city with your knowledge and experience.”

The 2023 Graduation Celebration was sponsored by Evonik and VDI, the Association of German Engineers, as well as by MLP, umlaut, and the proRWTH association of friends.

As part of the program, about 5,000 guests in the packed dressage stadium saw performances by the Aquarell Dance Crew, Herencia Latina, and AachenSuyo e. V.

When the graduates left the grounds, they were bid farewell with a traditional Aachen phrase: "Tschö, wa!” – or “See you!” in English – read the large posters at the exits. So see you again, sometime, here in Aachen.

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RWTH-Graduiertenfest 2023