On Friday, February 21, 2020, Dr. Douglas Munch ’69 ChE addressed the Villanova University community as the 2020 Patrick J. Cunningham, Jr. and Susan Ward '80 Endowed Lecture Series in Engineering speaker. Through his lecture, “When I Grow Up: A Life’s Narrative,” several hundred students gleaned invaluable life lessons and career advice from this modern-day renaissance man whose path included contributing to space missions and fighter aircraft, completing medical school, leading biotech startups and more.
Dr. Munch began his presentation by asking the audience, “How many of you know what you want to be when you grow up?” A few hands were raised in response. Several more went up when asked, “How many have no idea?” Throughout his lecture, Munch shared quotes from Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” in which the theme is the divergence of paths, literal yet also clearly figurative. He extolled the need to be open to change, recognizing that the goals you set for yourself are rarely where you’ll end up.
Presenting the forks he encountered throughout his career—nuclear engineering or aerospace; career or medical school; post-doc or industry—Munch admitted that, “It’s a delusion to think we can control life.” He added, “Make the best decision you can based on the information that’s available to you at the time.”
For an in-depth look at Dr. Munch’s impressive career and post-retirement activities, refer to “Douglas Munch, PhD, ’69 ChE: Modern-Day Renaissance Man” in Villanova Engineer Fall 2019. You can watch the recording of his Ward Lecture here.
About the Patrick J. Cunningham, Jr. and Susan Ward '80 Endowed Lecture Series in Engineering
In 2009, Villanova Engineering alumnus Susan Ward ’80 ChE and her husband Patrick Cunningham established an endowed engineering lecture series to offer students exposure to experts from various engineering fields and educational opportunities outside the classroom.
Since the inaugural lecture in November 2010, the series has delivered a wide variety of speakers from diverse engineering backgrounds, including former CEO of the Panama Canal Authority Alberto Alemán Zubieta, world-renowned designer and entrepreneur Mike Nuttal and Gretchen McClain, NASA’s former Chief Director of the International Space Station. Learn more.