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Technology giant Dr. Waguih Ishak to accept honorary degree, address ConvocationJune 13, 2018

McMaster’s Faculty of Engineering is set to bestow an honorary degree on one of its most distinguished graduates.

Waguih Ishak(Ph.D ’78 Electrical), an international leader in optics and photonics research and a successful technology executive, will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree at the Spring Convocation ceremony on June 15.

Forty years after his graduation, Ishak – named inventor on seven US patents and author of more than 100 papers – says he is still driven by his love for technology research and development.

“It’s what keeps me excited. Every morning I wake up at 4 am and want to go to work,” he says.

Starting with Hewlett-Packard Laboratories in 1979, then moving to Agilent Labs and Avago Technologies, Ishak spent nearly 30 years directing research teams studying photonics and integrated electronics.

In 2007, he joined Corning to establish its Corning West Technology Center (CWTC) in Silicon Valley, where researchers work to develop new technologies related to high-speed interconnects, novel displays, solid-state illumination and embedded sensors. He now serves as Corning’s Division Vice President & Chief Technologist.

Ishak, who will deliver the convocation address on June 15, urges this year’s engineering graduates to recognize today’s megatrends in the technology world and then pursue a niche that excites them.

“In my opinion, people want solutions for good health, good communications and good entertainment,” he says. “Consider how you can structure your career to solve these problems that matter. We are witnessing an incredible era of exponential growth in technology from 3D printing to augmented reality to autonomous cars to artificial intelligence and personalized medicine; what an amazing opportunity for today’s engineering graduates.”

He adds that today’s graduating engineers are well-positioned to succeed in the job market, thanks to the university’s focus on innovation, emphasis on practical skills and strong faculty.

“McMaster is good at graduating top students in areas we need these days,” he says. “We need people in advanced materials, in manufacturing, in autonomous vehicles, in artificial intelligence and machine learning. I’m really glad to see the school excelling in those fields.”

Students launching their careers need to be prepared to embrace today’s world of innovation, work as part of a team and make strong connections.

“When you join an industry, start building your network,” he advises. “Find out who is who in your company, in your industry and around the world. And be a person of interest yourself. Be positive and celebrate the opportunity to create great solutions to challenging problems.”

“It’s a fun career. It’s great time to be an engineer,” says Ishak.

Take a look at Ishak's inspiring Convocation Speech