YouTuber, engineer, and inventor Mark Rober to deliver Class of 2023 Commencement address

Rober will speak at the OneMIT Ceremony, to be held on the second of three days of Commencement proceedings

Mark Rober, a former NASA engineer and science communicator best known for his YouTube channel, will speak at the 2023 OneMIT Commencement Ceremony June 1.

Rober has amassed a YouTube following of over 23 million subscribers with over 3 billion views as of press time. Some of his most popular videos include swimming in Jell-O, filling hot tubs with “liquid” sand, and a series of engineering videos on catching package thieves using a “glitter bomb” contraption.

“For millions of young learners (and a few older ones, too), Mark Rober is making science and engineering inspiring, engaging, accessible, and most importantly, fun,” President L. Rafael Reif told MIT News. “His videos and build-box kits brim with creativity and energy — hand-on learning at its finest.”

Rober said to MIT News that he is “such a believer in hands-on, practical engineering solutions to real-world problems,” and that he “can’t think of a school that has a better reputation for that than MIT.” Rober is “excited to come out and meet the Class of 2023 and celebrate all the amazing, positive change they’re going to bring to the world.”

Prior to starting his YouTube career, Rober studied mechanical engineering at Brigham Young University (BS) and the University of Southern California (MS), spent nine years as a mechanical engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and five years on project design working at Apple.

Outside of making videos, Rober raises awareness for autism, a condition his son has. Rober also collaborates with Jimmy Donaldson, better known as MrBeast on YouTube, to fight climate change with initiatives like Team Trees, which has already planted over 20 million trees, and Team Seas, which has already removed over 30 million pounds of plastics from oceans, rivers, and beaches.

Senior Class President Anna Sun ’23, Undergraduate Association President David Spicer ’23, and Graduate Student Council President AJ Miller G underscored Rober’s inclusive and accessible approach to technology. 

Sun said that “accurately described as the ‘Willy Wonka of engineering,’ Rober has an acumen for innovation and serves as an inspiration for redefining how we students can use our knowledge to impact those around us. I can’t wait to learn more from his experiences.”

Spicer stated that “bringing individuals from all walks of life into an educational environment is a feature of MIT, and Mark Rober captures this MIT quality through outreach videos that spark imagination and innovation in the minds of learners across the globe.”

Miller shared that he loves “how [Rober] makes building and communicating science fun and accessible to everyone and inspires so many young people to pursue education and careers in technology.”

Spicer also pointed out that “Science and engineering are not static. Education is not stagnant. Rober is a fresh example of the importance of bringing the new generation of learners into STEM education through pioneering methods,” while Miller added that “Mark Rober is a great exemplar of the quirky, creative energy for engineering we so highly and uniquely value at MIT, and I can’t wait to hear him speak at Commencement.”

Recent Commencement speakers include director-general of the World Trade Organization Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala MCP ’78 PhD ’81 (2022), civil rights lawyer and activist Bryan Stevenson (2021) and retired Navy four-star admiral William McRaven (2020).

MIT’s Commencement celebrations will take place over three days from May 31–June 2, 2023, unlike past years, which have featured two-day ceremonies, Provost Cynthia Barnhart PhD ’88 and Chancellor Melissa Nobles announced in email to the MIT community Dec. 7. 

In addition to the OneMIT ceremony for all graduates, undergraduates will receive diplomas on Killian Court June 2. Programs, schools, and the college will hold recognition ceremonies for advanced degree recipients between May 31 and June 2.

While this particular format is new, several aspects of past ceremonies remain: the OneMIT ceremony debuted at 2022 Commencement, following two years of virtual ceremonies.