Mark Rober launches flying graduation cap at MIT commencement

The 2023 graduating class at Massachusetts Institute of Technology had their commencement speech delivered by engineer, inventor, and YouTuber Mark Rober. Most notably, he punctuated his speech with a twist on the traditional graduation cap toss by attaching a drone to his mortarboard and sending it flying above MIT's Great Dome. He remarked, "Anybody can toss their hat in the air. We see it at every graduation — but few have dared to make it actually fly."

In his address, Rober urged the graduates to embrace optimism, collaboration, and to forge ahead into their futures with unwavering resolve. Drawing on his own experiences, from NASA to Apple to YouTube, he advised the graduates to "embrace naïve optimism," "frame your failures," and "foster your relationships." He used the analogy of a game, suggesting that overcoming life's challenges was akin to crossing a rocky river.

"Life is like trying to cross a big flowing river with lots of rocks and boulders strewn about." We must negotiate things one rock or boulder at a time, he emphasized, remarking that "the willingness to jump from my current safe rock to the next is what I feel has led me from college to NASA to YouTube to eventually landing on this rock, of giving the commencement speech at M-I- freaking-T. There's no way I could have predicted that path when I was exactly in your shoes 20 years ago."

…"If you want to cross the river of life, you're gonna get wet, you're gonna have to backtrack, and that's not a bug, that's a feature."