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Labs engineer to deliver CSU commencement address


Susan-Nov-2016.gifSusan Benzel

By Curt Hopkins, Managing Editor, Hewlett Packard Labs

Susan Benzel, Labs’ execution program manager for The Machine, has been invited to deliver the commencement address for her alma mater, Colorado State University’s School of Engineering.

Benzel will deliver her comments at Fall Commencement, Saturday, December 17 at 12:30 PM in Fort Collins, Colorado, also the location of one of Hewlett Packard Labs’ research facilities.

Benzel will speak on the power of storytelling in a scientific and professional context.

“I want to address how the students can tell their story in a compelling way and how to think about what they want their story to be,” Benzel said. “I will weave in my story, and talk about my involvement with The Machine.” The Machine, according to Benzel, is more than an impressive piece of technology.

“It has a story behind it as well,” she said, “and it creates information out of data.” In a world that is data rich but info poor, The Machine is a storytelling engine. That’s not a whimsical metaphor. Research shared in classes at the Stanford Graduate School of Business indicates that when students hear a speech, 5 percent will remember the statistics but 63 percent will remember the stories.  Telling stories will help the graduates communicate more effectively, connect with co-workers, and generally be more successful.

It might surprise some to hear that the difference in the academic experience that Benzel sees between her and her children’s is a bigger emphasis on communications. That is because today’s engineering students, she said, are going to engage in many more group projects and hands-on experiences than she and her husband did. Her experience was more “go take this textbook and solve these problems,” something which did not require nearly as much accurate and effective communications as collaborative work.

Benzel’s storied career, her experience teaching leadership courses through HPE in Fort Collins, and her high-profile involvement in The Machine all make her a valued speaker at the school, but so does the fact you would have to go pretty far to find a family more arietine than hers. She has a degree in electrical engineering from the school, as does her husband. Both of her children have graduated from CSU, her son from the School of Engineering and her daughter with a Masters in Accountancy.

The school is expecting about 40 graduates and 500 attendees to attend commencement.

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Managing Editor, Hewlett Packard Labs

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