University to Graduate 7,000 Students on Its Five Campuses

Issue Date: 
May 2, 2010
John A. SwansonJohn A. Swanson

University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg will welcome graduating members of the Class of 2010, faculty, trustees, alumni, staff, and invited guests, families, and friends attending Pitt’s 2010 Commencement at 2 p.m. today in the Petersen Events Center.

University of Pittsburgh alumnus and trustee John A. Swanson, founder, former president, CEO, and director of ANSYS, Inc., who earned his PhD degree in engineering at Pitt (1966), will deliver the University’s 2010 commencement address. At the ceremony, Pitt will confer upon Swanson the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa.

Chief University Marshal Michael R. Pinsky will open the ceremony, leading a procession of members of the graduating class, faculty, staff, the Council of Deans, trustees, and administrative officers in full academic regalia; Pinksy is a professor of critical care medicine and bioengineering in the School of Medicine and president of the University Senate. The University Symphonic Band, under the direction of Pitt Director of Bands Jack R. Anderson, will provide music.

After the awarding of diplomas by Nordenberg, Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor James V. Maher, and the deans of the schools and colleges, Lance T. Bonner will speak on behalf of the graduating class. Bonner, a graduating senior in the School of Arts and Sciences, will receive the Bachelor of Arts degree during the commencement ceremony. His talk will be followed by an address from F. James McCarl III, (CGS ‘73), president of the University of Pittsburgh Alumni Association, who will welcome the graduates as Pitt’s newest alumni.

In all, Pitt will confer approximately 7,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees this year at its five campuses; Pitt-Bradford, Pitt-Greensburg, Pitt-Johnstown, and Pitt-Titusville will hold their own commencement ceremonies.

Swanson, who helped revolutionize computer-aided engineering four years after graduating from Pitt, has earned substantial recognition in the past 40 years, including two of the highest honors a professional engineer can receive. Last year, he was named to the National Academy of Engineering, one of 65 new members and nine foreign associates elected in 2009 for contributions to and innovations in engineering. In May 2004, Swanson received the American Association of Engineering Societies’ John Fritz Medal, widely considered the highest award in the engineering profession. Prior awardees of the Fritz Medal include Orville Wright, Alexander Graham Bell, Alfred Nobel, Thomas Edison, Guglielmo Marconi, and George Westinghouse.

Swanson was named a Pitt School of Engineering Distinguished Alumnus in 1998. He has served on Pitt’s Board of Trustees since 2006.

In December 2007, Pitt renamed its engineering school the John A. Swanson School of Engineering in recognition of the greatest generosity by an individual donor in Pitt’s history.

Swanson is recognized internationally as an authority and innovator in the application of finite-element methods to engineering. In 1970, Swanson founded ANSYS, Inc., which markets the ANSYS software code that Swanson created for use by the aerospace, automotive, biomedical, manufacturing, and electronics industries to simulate how product design will behave in real-work environments.

Swanson served ANSYS as president, chief executive officer, and director; at his retirement from ANSYS in March 1999, he was the company’s chief technologist. Headquartered in Canonsburg, Pa., with more than 40 sales locations worldwide, ANSYS and its subsidiaries today employ approximately 1,400 people and distribute products through a network of channel partners in more than 40 countries. Swanson still teaches ANSYS training classes and serves the company in an advisory capacity.

In 2002, Swanson was inducted into the Cathedral of Learning Society, which recognizes individuals who have donated $1 million or more to the University. Through his earlier investments in Pitt’s $2 billion Building Our Future Together capital campaign, Swanson created the John A. Swanson Institute for Technical Excellence, which houses the John A. Swanson Center for Micro and Nano Systems; the John A. Swanson Center for Product Innovation; and the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) Center of Excellence. He also has established the John A. Swanson Embedded Computing Laboratory in Computer Engineering.

Before attending Pitt, Swanson received his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Cornell University in 1963 and 1962, respectively. Now retired, Swanson lends his expertise to Pitt engineering students as an advisor on senior design projects.