Vishrut Rana gave the following speech to IEOR graduates during the IEOR Reception on Tuesday:

Thank you to all faculty, staff, family, and friends that are here today. You’ve played an instrumental role in getting us to where we are, and your presence means so much to each one of us!

To my fellow graduates, congratulations! I’m sure the last few days have been incredibly overwhelming and yet very satisfying. To realize how much this achievement should mean to each of us, allow me to take you back to a place when you were first submitting your University of California application. You check the box next to UC Berkeley and select your major as Industrial Engineering and Operations Research. HOW???? How did we decide? It sounded cool, the website had some cool stuff, but what did any of it even mean…? Here we are a few years later and I don’t know if we have a succinct answer to the hardest question we’ve all been asked – what is IEOR?

So, to the Berkeley IEOR graduating class of 2022, when you’re asked this question again, allow me to share my answer. While applications of optimization and stochastics are important, I believe all of IEOR was designed to equip each of us to make tomorrow better in our own ways. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we end up being the most envied department on campus. I mean, the fancy swag items we get help, but you know, this objective sets us apart…

As cliched as this sounds, the people of IEOR enforce the overarching objective of making tomorrow better. There are traits that all members of the IEOR community share, ones that I truly hope we never let go of! As we step into the “real world”, for whatever that means, I hope we can take a moment to reinforce these traits.

To begin with, each of us always seeks to create a supportive and welcoming environment. Look at how we do our homework and projects and even spend our Taco Tuesdays! All of this makes such a difference to the people around you – trust a brown dude fresh off the boat with a thick accent to notice this!! When you spread positivity and truly inculcate inclusiveness, the collective results you can achieve are just exponentially improved.

We also carry with us an eternally curious spirit with a desire to keep trying new things – have you ever heard of an IEOR student stereotype? Compare this to a major that’s identified with students that don’t shower… I’d like to this our diversity in personalities is quite revealing… Away from the rat race, we happen to live in the sweet spot where we can pair our skills with an unending desire to explore!
And most crucially, we’re all driven by impact. While most people question “what should we do next”, we ask “why and for whom should we do this next”. Our collective desire to use whatever tools to solve pressing problems, to change what needs changing, is what makes IEOR. Come to think of it, this shared spirit is probably what brought us to IEOR when we first applied. Just a bunch of unique kids with a common mindset to create impact.

Fellow graduates, as you spend the day with family, friends, faculty, and staff that helped you get to where you are today, I ask you to never let go of this spirit.

All of this is to say, that yes, if someone comes from one of those larger and clearly oblivious majors on campus, we likely can’t answer their “what is IEOR” questions, but we sure as hell know what we can do with it.

Congratulations once again to all graduates and their families, I hope you have a pleasant afternoon!