June 14, 2019

Engineering Commencement Speakers Announced

Son of a robotics expert and first-gen engineering transfer student to speak

June 14, 2019

David Tsai, this year’s engineering keynote speaker for the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE), will follow in his father’s footsteps to inspire tomorrow’s engineers while Crysthal Alvarez, the first engineer in her family, will address her fellow graduates as the student speaker.


Tsai, a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s San Francisco office and co-leader of the firm’s Taiwan practice, is son to the college’s Presidential Chair Professor of mechanical engineering Lung Wen Tsai, a robotics expert and inventor who passed away unexpectedly in 2002 from a brain aneurysm.


Following his father’s death, Tsai continued to be an active part of the university and college, serving as both a UC Riverside Board of Trustee and a member of BCOE’s Council of Advisors. As part of his work at the law firm, he represents leading technology corporations in patent and complex commercial litigation and has been quoted in numerous publications such as the New York Times. He has served as president of the Silicon Valley Intellectual Property Law Association and Asian American Bar Association as well as a board member of Equality California and Lambda Legal.


Tsai has been recognized as a top 50 California Lawyer on the Fastrack, Super Lawyer in IP Litigation, Best Lawyer Under 40 by both the National LGBT and National Asian Pacific American bar associations, and by the California State Legislature for his civil rights work.


Tsai will be joined on stage by mechanical engineering bachelor of science degree candidate Crysthal Alvarez, who will serve as the student commencement speaker. A first generation college student and the first to become an engineer in her family, Alvarez is an active member of the college through her participation in undergraduate research, student organizations, and the Transfer Transition Program.


Working in Professor Guillermo Aguilar’s lab, Alvarez presented her research findings on transparent cranial implants at various conferences, earning a Top Honors Award at the UC LEADS Research Symposium and honorable mention at the UC-Wide CAMP Symposium. After graduation, Crysthal will be joining Professor Guillermo’s lab as a Ph.D. student to continue her research.  


Alvarez is an active member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), serving as the group’s external outreach chair and helping execute such events as the Annual Development Fair and Día de Ciencias. She also helped found the Undergraduate Research Club and served as its vice president of research and has also been a member for UC LEADS, a systemwide program that prepares students for advanced STEM education.


A transfer student herself, Alvarez went on to become a transfer peer mentor as part of the college’s Transfer Transition Program. In addition to helping new transfer students adjust to the four-year university setting, she participates on panels to promote the BCOE experience and allows prospective students to shadow her for the day.


Nearly 600 engineering students will receive their diplomas during the ceremony that will be held at UC Riverside’s Pierce Lawn Monday, June 17 at 6:30 p.m.