Former student Lisa Veitch to deliver commencement address

Former Penn State New Kensington student Lisa Veitch, research staff member for the Institute for Defense Analyses in Alexandria, Va., will be the principal speaker at the campus' fall commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Dec. 21 in the Forum Theatre. More than 40 graduates will receive baccalaureate and associate degrees.

Veitch, a Plum Borough, Pa., native, earned a bachelor’s degree in ceramic science and engineering from Penn State and a doctorate in materials engineering from Purdue University. She began her career in 1989 with NASA as a materials research scientist and moved on to Defense Analyses 10 years later.

Located in Alexandria, Virginia, the institute is a non-profit corporation that operates three federally funded research and development centers to provide objective analyses of national security issues, particularly those requiring scientific and technical expertise, and conducts related research on other national challenges. As a weapons system analyst, she provides independent technical assessments on weapons, technology and policies that are supported by the Defense Department.

Although she completed her undergraduate studies at the University Park campus, Veitch credits the New Kensington campus as the springboard for her vocation. After graduating from Plum High School, she vacillated on the merits of attending college before choosing New Kensington because it was close to home.

“I wasn’t sure if college was right for me, but New Kensington gave me confidence in myself, and I thrived in both academics and leadership positions,” said Veitch, who was an officer of the Student Government Association. “The students and faculty have always been great. “

Campus faculty inspired her to utilize her math and science talents to pursue an engineering degree. Clarence “Bill” Finley, associate professor of chemistry, who retired in 2007 after 25 years at the campus, was her favorite professor.

“Dr. Finley and I are still friends to this day,” said Veitch, who earned a Baynard and Ethel Kunkle scholarship at the campus. “New Kensington is really home to me. I have many fond memories of being a student here, working in the labs in the summers and coming back to visit.”

Veitch resides in Alexandria and spends her leisure time in the air and under water. Veitch holds a private pilot’s license for single engine planes, and she is a certified scuba diver. When her feet are on the ground, she enjoys playing the piano and ballroom dancing.

Commencement will be Veitch’s second trip to the campus in the past two months. In October, she spoke with first-year students about engineering careers. She shared her 30 years of experience as an engineer and gave the freshmen engineers exposure to the world of engineering.

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Last Updated November 21, 2013