POTSDAM - Former U.S. Secretary of Energy and Nobel Laureate Steven Chu received an honorary doctor of science degree at Clarkson Universitys 121st Commencement.
The degree was awarded for his dedication to science and championing scientific inquiry; for his service to the betterment of this nation; for pioneering innovation in the search for sustainable forms of energy; for his commitment to collaboration and his leadership in exploring new solutions to the challenge of our changing climate; for his continuing work educating future generations and for inspiring the leaders of tomorrow to serve humanity and the ecology on which we depend.
I admit I was a techie, too, said Chu in addressing the graduates. I was so much of a techie growing up, I didnt realize how nerdy I was. I didnt realize you should try to hide how nerdy you were. That made me a geek. Whats the difference? A geek is a nerd whos proud of it.
You might look at my bio and say, Whoa, this guy did a lot. But it wasnt always so. In ninth grade, I didnt want to go to school, so I stopped.
Chu said that, after eventually finishing high school, it was in college where he learned about self-confidence.
My teachers began to build my self-confidence, Chu said. And from what Ive seen of Clarkson, theres a lot of that going on here.
I learned early in life that failing is actually OK. Its important to fail. And I tell my students that if you live your life without failures, then thats the biggest failure of your life. You would have never known what you couldve done. In my scientific career, three quarters of the stuff I tried did not work. The secret is, when you fail, you have to fail fastand move on. You dont want to spend a lifetime failing.
In closing, Chu said, Im going to leave you with this thought. As I stand before you, old and gray, you have your life before you. Time will flash by faster than you can imagine. So do what excites you, what you care about. Do something you really believe in. Above all, enjoy life.
Chu is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Physics and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University. From January 2009 until April 2013 Chu served as the 12th U.S. Secretary of Energy under President Barack Obama.
As the longest serving energy secretary, he began several initiatives, including ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy), the Energy Innovation Hubs, and the Clean Energy Ministerial meetings. During his tenure, the deployment of renewable energy in the U.S. doubled.