Inside Rensselaer
Volume 6, No. 7, April 13, 2012

Commencement Honorands Announced

Barton J. Gordon—one of the nation’s leading bipartisan experts on innovation during his 26-year career in the U.S. House of Representatives—will deliver the main address at the 206th Rensselaer Commencement here on May 26.

Barton Gordon   Antonin G. Scalia   Steven J. Sasson 72   Edward A. Feigenbaum  
Barton J. Gordon spacer Antonin G. Scalia spacer Steven J. Sasson ’72 spacer Edward A. Feigenbaum spacer

Gordon will receive an honorary degree, along with fellow honorands Antonin G. Scalia, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; digital camera inventor and Rensselaer alumnus Steven J. Sasson ’72; and Edward A. Feigenbaum, a pioneer in the computer science field and professor emeritus at Stanford University.

The 2012 President’s Commencement Colloquy, titled  “Honoring Tradition, Responding to a Changing World,”
will be held on Friday, May 25.

“Better collaboration across sectors can accelerate the scientific discoveries and technological innovations at the core of the solutions to many of the great challenges and opportunities of our time,” said President Shirley Ann Jackson. “Congressman Gordon, Justice Scalia, Mr. Sasson, and Dr. Feigenbaum exemplify that cross-section of government, business, and academic leadership which comes to the fore in responding to and shaping our changing world.”

Gordon, a partner at K&L Gates, represented Tennessee for 26 years in the United States House of Representatives, where he served as chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology. In 2007, he championed the America COMPETES Act, which promotes federal investments in innovation in order to make the U.S. more competitive. He played a key role in developing the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, which encouraged the federal government to promote the transfer of nanotechnology breakthroughs from laboratories to commercial products. While in office, Gordon led the debate on a wide range of technology issues, including health information technology,  nuclear power, rare earth minerals, and synthetic biotechnology.

Scalia, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, is the longest-serving justice on the Court. After serving in private practice and in academia for two decades, Scalia served the federal government as general counsel of the Office of Telecommunications Policy, chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States, and assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel. He was appointed Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1982. President Reagan nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat September 26, 1986.

Sasson, a retired electrical engineer from Eastman Kodak Company, pioneered the development of the digital camera. Working in an applied research laboratory, he led a number of early digital imaging projects, including the design and construction of the first digital still camera and playback system in 1975. He has received 10 key digital imaging patents. In 1989, he led the development of the first prototype megapixel electronic digital camera that stored images to flash memory cards. He also developed one of the first photographic quality thermal printing systems, derivatives of which are still in use in self-service imaging kiosks around the world today.

Feigenbaum, a renowned computer scientist and the Kumagai Professor of Computer Science Emeritus at Stanford University, pioneered the development of the Expert Systems field. In 1963, he co-edited the anthology Computers and Thought. In the 1980s he co-edited the four-volume Handbook of Artificial Intelligence. From 1994 to 1997, he was Chief Scientist of the U.S. Air Force. In 1995, he was awarded the ACM Turing Award of the Association for Computing Machinery. The Feigenbaum Prize for AI Research is awarded biannually by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Artificial Intelligence Hall of Fame of the IEEE, and the Hall of Fellows of the Computer History Museum.

On the eve of Commencement, Rensselaer will convene for the 2012 President’s Commencement Colloquy. The honorands will participate in a discussion—titled  “Honoring Tradition, Responding to A Changing World”—led by President Jackson. The Colloquy will be held in the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center beginning at 4 p.m. on Friday, May 25.

For more details on Commencement, go to

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 6, Number 7, April 13, 2012
©2012 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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