RWTH Aachen Holds Its First Graduation Celebration

Graduates tossing their caps © Andreas Schmitter

The Aachen Dressage Stadium, normally an arena for horses and riders, provided the backdrop for an RWTH Aachen premiere on September 6, 2014. Approximately 1000 graduates from all nine faculties celebrated the first graduation celebration together. The Faculty of Mechanical Engineering was represented by the largest group.


Photos from the 2014 Graduation Celebration


Graduates entered the stadium to the sound of the Koninklijke Philharmonie Bocholtz and applause from thousands of family, friends, and representatives from business, science, and politics. Shortly before entering they donned blue sashes and graduation caps. It was a cheerful, almost never ending parade of happy graduates. Not only the guests were impressed; it certainly left a lasting impression among the graduates.



Graduiertenfest 2014


Speech by Aachen Engineering Award Recipient

Professor Berthold Leibinger's speech was equally impressive. The 83-year-old was awarded the first Aachen Engineering Award the previous evening. He addressed the young graduates from the podium and urged them to use the knowledge they have acquired and to learn something new. "Curiosity and thirst for knowledge are what the dreams are made out of that you wish to achieve in your professional career." Young adults' knowledge, commitment, and creativity is needed in business, but so is the impartiality of their thinking, a new way of dealing with knowledge.

Leibinger emphasized that after World War II there was no skepticism towards business and growth and change resulting from technology. Today, much is questioned. Graduates thus need both the ability to justify their intentions and to understand other methods of thinking in order reflect on possible objections and reactions in advance. Leibinger described how the most important characteristic among managers is acting as a role model. "You should always act as you would want to be treated," he remarked.


Congratulations All Around

Aachen's mayor, Marcel Philipp, congratulated the graduates in the name of all Aacheners and underlined that, together, they form a priceless network that spreads the city's excellent reputation throughout the world. Graduates also ensure good economic framework conditions in the region.

NRW Minister of Science, Svenja Schulze, characterized RWTH as the gem of German higher education. She called on the graduates to use their knowledge to face the many social challenges. This included climate change and the aging society, but also worldwide business competition. The minister called this inaugural joint graduation celebration for all the faculties a sign of community and collective success. It is important the students leave the university with a degree.

AStA chairman, Ralph Kessel, expressed his congratulatiosn in the name of all students and made it clear that the graduates did not just acquire knowledge during their studies but also many friendships. They now stand before a new beginning that will be combined with difficult decisions. He shared a quotation from Marlon Brando to send graduates on their way: Only those who go their own way can't be overtaken by anyone.

Professor Malte Brettel, Vice-Rector for Industry and Business Relations, moderated the event with puns and quick-wit. Together with Rector Ernst Schmachtenberg, he led the higlight of the program, the cap toss with 1000 graduates' caps.

The encouragement from so many family and friends during the celebration proved the close connection to the university and parents' solidarity with their children, emphasized Rector Schmachtenberg. He also thanked all the donors and sponsors, above all Sparkasse Aachen, who made the graduation celebration in this new format possible.

Aside from a cultural framework program, different companies and Forschungszentrum Jülich were present on the grounds, providing information about career opportunities. RWTH and the University's alumn network also had stands.

Photo caption:Enthusiasm at the RWTH Aachen Graduation Celebration: The University's graduates tossed their caps into the air at the Aachen Dressage Stadium.