Nearly 6,500 guests and students from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science gathered at Pauley Pavilion in Westwood Saturday to hear Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne president Jim Maser deliver the 2007 commencement address.

By Matthew Chin

Maser heads the world’s leading liquid rocket propulsion and power technology company. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne powers the Space Shuttle, commercial launch vehicles and future crafts that will return humans to the moon.
Maser said that while he may not be as memorable as Bill Gates, he hoped that the approximately 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students will remember his advice.Maser first spoke about a recent sea change in the business world, where corporate ethics and a growing consciousness on global climate change and environmental impacts are becoming top priorities for many companies. He then said that engineers and scientists will be at the forefront in helping make these changes.

“Using your education and creativity to find new ways to provide eco-friendly solutions to business challenges, while contributing to the community and always doing the right thing will create a competitive advantage for you and your company,” Maser said.

Maser then shared several key points with the graduates on having a successful career, including being passionate about your work; always doing the right thing; doing your best; treating others with respect; having an open mind; not being afraid to take risks and to have fun.

Maser has extensive experience in the spaceflight business. Prior to his appointment as president of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Maser was the president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, a startup company that aims to decrease the cost and increase the access and reliability to space.

Prior to that, Maser spent 18 years with the Boeing Company. His last position was as the president and general manager of Sea Launch, LLC, an international partnership led by Boeing. Maser also served as Sea Launch’s chief systems engineer and was the chief engineer on the Delta program, where he worked extensively with Rocketdyne.

Maser graduated magna cum laude from the University of Akron (Ohio) with a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering, followed by a Master’s degree in Engineering. He later received a Master’s degree in Business Administration from UCLA.

In 2000, the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) honored Maser with the George M. Low Space Transportation Award for his contributions to space transportation. The award is named in memory of the former president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and NASA deputy administrator who played leading role in planning and executing all of the Apollo missions, and who originated the plans for the first manned lunar orbital flight – Apollo 8.