Letter from the President

Daring to lead.

To some the phrase might seem like a casual platitude. But as I come to know more and more members of our alumni community, I am continually reminded that leadership requires the courage to take chances and succeed. The stories you will read in this issue of Illinois Tech Magazine attest to that fact, and the recent accomplishments of our students, faculty, and staff over the past year only reinforce it. 

Our research community continues to lead in fields of future importance and relevance. Just this May, Illinois Tech was named as the home of a $10 million federally funded Tier 1 University Transportation Center that will make navigation systems more resilient to cyber attacks. The head of the United States Department of Commerce herself emphasized the need for facilities such as our planned National Institute for Advanced Manufacturing, an applied research and advanced workforce training center that aims to bolster sorely needed semiconductor production. In other areas, we’re researching groundbreaking, tech-driven treatments for diabetes, and our law school is conducting a deep dive into the philosophical underpinnings of police policy.

And in the wake of an increased national focus on college admissions, I would like to reiterate that Illinois Tech will continue its legacy of advancing technology and innovation for all. Our new Ascend program, which partners with City Colleges of Chicago to offer the city’s high school students a cost-effective and flexible path to higher learning, is a perfect example of how we are continually building programs with that goal in mind. 

These efforts have not gone unnoticed: Bloomberg Philanthropies recently recognized Illinois Tech as one of 28 American Talent Initiative Higher-Fliers—institutions with high graduation rates that are also leaders in college access and in enabling success for lower-income students.

That outreach was recognized in the most recent Wall Street Journal/College Pulse college rankings, which placed more emphasis on career outcomes, ranking Illinois Tech the 23rd best college in the country, above any other college in Illinois. Additionally, this year U.S. News & World Report ranked us within the top 100 colleges in the country and 29th for best value—affirmation of our commitment to provide economic opportunities for all.

Speaking of student success, one trend has distinguished the alumni highlighted in this issue of Illinois Tech Magazine: they were not content to simply excel in their careers. Rather, they displayed the courage, determination, and foresight to become true leaders in cutting-edge fields.

In his relentless pursuit of clean energy, Mike Graff (CHE ’77) is now actively shaping the course of the hydrogen business worldwide, and Georges Benjamin (BIOL ’73) has been one of the most influential executives in health care for nearly two decades. Gregory Wyler’s (LAW ’96) startup company is re-imagining orbital satellite system design. Yuta Katsuyama (M.Des.+M.B.A. ’21) and Cristina Tarriba (M.Des. ’20) managed to launch a novel food production business during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. And Brooks Atwood (ARCH ’99) risked his career many times over to become the energetic team innovator of a Netflix show that has reached the streaming service’s top-10 list in 67 countries.

I find all of these alumni inspiring, and I’m thankful to them not only for selecting Illinois Tech as a launchpad for their careers, but also for sharing their stories with us in order to inspire others.

Thank you for your continued support, and for all of the stories to come.


Raj Echambadi