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06.10.12 - The 2012 Master graduation ceremony took place under the banner of change and sustainable development. The audience congratulated the 667 new graduates.

The start of term brings in its wake the highly awaited event of the moment: the Master degree graduation ceremony. A solemn and festive occasion which marks the end of a course of study, the beginning of a professional career or, even for some, the first steps towards a doctoral thesis. Politicians, scientists, professors, students and their families – over 2700 people – made the journey to attend and duly celebrate the 667 new EPFL alumni.

The celebration took place under a huge marquee set up next to the Rolex Learning Center. The red and white tent attracted the eye and new students found it intriguing. Perhaps they will be the next graduates of their promotion year.

“You did it”
10.25 a.m. The lights are turned off, three knocks are heard, and the hostesses hurry the remaining guests into their seats. A drum roll sounds, and in comes the procession. The Lausanne Camerata conducted by Pierre Amoyal is in sync with the officials’ strides. Patrick Aebischer, the EPFL President, inaugurates the ceremony with a proud “You did it”.

He reminds the recent graduates of the 2012 promotion that they have all the necessary tools to set off on their professional venture. Whether it is energy supply, climate change, urban development or extending lifespan, they will have to use their enthusiasm and their intelligence to offer the best choices for tomorrow.

The 2012 Honoris Causa doctorates
Two internationally renowned scientists have been rewarded this year with an Honoris Causa doctorate.
Emily Carter leads Princeton University’s Andlinger Center for Energy and Environment. She has been honored for her fundamental contributions to the development of functional theories of density and multi-scale quantum methods.
David Donoho, a Professor of Statistics at Stanford University, was also awarded an Honoris Causa doctorate. He was rewarded for his fundamental contributions and his status of scientific reference in statistics, signal processing and information theory.

The Alumni Awards
In the round of prize-giving of this Magistrale, the “Polysphères” always provides an opportunity to place center-stage, in each faculty, the teachers most appreciated by the students.
This year Agepoly, EPFL’s student association, decided on an audiovisual medium to declare the 2012 winner of the gold Polysphère. The audience followed, by means of a short spoof film shot on the premises of Frequence Banane, the thrilling enquiry by the radio hosts to discover the scoop of the year. After a few mishaps, the collected clues pointed to the mystery character: Gisou Van der Goot, professor of microbiology at the School of Life Sciences. Her students have particularly appreciated her pedagogic talent, her constant good mood, her availability and skill in keeping her audience awake throughout the whole lecture.

Rewards for Research
The research awards, presented by Benoît Deveaud-Plédran, Dean of Research, rewarded scientists who have made special contributions:
• The ZKS prize was awarded to Corsin Battaglia.
• The R.&R. Haenny Prize was awarded to Anna Fontcuberta-I-Morral and Holger Frauenrath.
• Salvatore Giovanni Antonio and Aziz Adel were presented with the ABB Prize.
• The “Fondation Latsis Internationale” Prize was awarded to Albert Schliesser.
• The Chorafas Prize was awarded to Ata Tuna Ciftlik and Jacques Levrat.
• The Credit Suisse Prize was awarded to Kathryn Hess Bellwald.

Two alumni in the spotlights
During this Magistrale, the spotlights were trained on the exceptional career paths of two EPFL graduates in the context of the Alumni Awards.
Aymeric Sallin founded his company, NanoDimension, in 2002 in order to invest in nanotechnologies. Within ten years, the entrepreneur has succeeded in turning his company into the world’s biggest private investor in this area. The expertise of the young EPFL engineer from Fribourg is recognized at The White House and Moscow alike.
Horst Hippler followed an exceptional academic career which took him to the highest level in German universities. He prepared his thesis at EPFL in 1974 in the area of chemical engineering. After working for IBM, in the United States, he settled in Germany. In 2012, he was appointed President of the German Rectors’ Conference.

The concerto for two violins by Vivaldi concluded the ceremony, and the new EPFL ambassadors could at last receive their much coveted diplomas.

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