North Carolina State University will confer degrees on more than 3,400 graduating students during its fall commencement exercise, beginning at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19, at the PNC Arena in Raleigh. Media coverage is invited.
Christine Mann Darden, a NASA engineer and executive, will deliver NC State’s commencement address. During the ceremony, Chancellor Randy Woodson will confer an honorary degree on Darden, whose work is fueling the development of supersonic jets.
During the ceremony, NC State will award 3,449 degrees – 40 associate’s, 1,959 bachelor’s, 1,103 master’s and 347 doctoral degrees. With the 5,915 degrees conferred in May, NC State will award a total of 9,364 degrees in 2018.
Over her nearly 40-year career with NASA, Darden won dozens of honors, including two NASA medals: one for her research and leadership of the sonic-boom program, and one for her work encouraging students to pursue careers in math and science. Darden was named the Black Engineer of the Year in Government and received a lifetime achievement award from Women in Science and Engineering.
A native of Monroe, North Carolina, Darden holds an undergraduate degree in mathematics education from Hampton Institute (now University). She made a career switch to engineering after earning a master’s degree in applied mathematics from Virginia State and a doctorate in mechanical engineering from George Washington University.
For 30 years, Darden spearheaded NASA research on ways to minimize sonic booms, which are a barrier to supersonic air travel. This year, NASA signed a contract with Lockheed Martin to build a full-size supersonic low-boom X-plane – a continuation of work Darden led.
Darden became the first African American woman at NASA’s Langley Research Center to be promoted into the top rank of the federal civil service. She served as a senior program manager in the High Speed Research Program Office, as director of the Aero Performing Center Program Management Office, and as Langley’s assistant director for planning. She retired as director of Langley’s Office of Strategic Communication and Education.
NC State officials do not expect major traffic congestion on Wednesday, but they advise attendees to be in their seats by 8:15 a.m. NC State’s Amalgam Brass Ensemble will begin playing at 8:30 a.m., and graduates will march onto the arena floor at 9 a.m. More commencement information is available online.
Note to editors: Media seating will be provided near the front of the stage on the left-hand side.
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