2018 UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Graduate Commencement PT 1 of 3


(“Pomp and Circumstance” by Edward Elgar) – Please be seated. Scott Weber, Vice
President for Student Life and Professor in the Department
of Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering will now officially open the ceremony. Professor Weber. – Provost Zukoski, Dean Folks, University representatives,
and distinguished guests. The graduates, the candidates
for degrees, the faculty, the staff, and the parents,
families, and friends of the graduates and
candidates are now assembled. I hereby declare this commencement at the University of Buffalo to be open. (audience applauding) – Thank you, Professor Weber. It is my pleasure to welcome you to the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Commencement Ceremony. I am Jeff Errington, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education
in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Our banner carrier today
was Mr. Philip Schneider, a candidate for the Doctor
of Philosophy Degree in Electrical Engineering. As we begin today’s ceremony, I ask that you take a moment and turn off all electronic
messaging devices. All those that are able, please stand for our National Anthem. It will be sung by Julia Anne Cordani, member of the UB Vocal
Performance Class of 2019. Ms. Cordani will be accompanied by the Buffalo Brass Quintet. (Brass quintet music) ♪ O say, can you see ♪ ♪ By the dawn’s early light ♪ ♪ What so proudly we hailed ♪ ♪ At the twilight’s last gleaming ♪ ♪ Whose broad stripes and bright stars ♪ ♪ Through the perilous fight ♪ ♪ O’er the ramparts we watched ♪ ♪ Were so gallantly streaming ♪ ♪ And the rockets’ red glare ♪ ♪ The bombs bursting in air ♪ ♪ Gave proof through the night ♪ ♪ That our flag was still there ♪ ♪ O say, does that star-spangled ♪ ♪ Banner yet wave ♪ ♪ O’er the land of the free ♪ ♪ And the home of the brave ♪ (audience applauding) – Please be seated. It is now my pleasure to
announce our platform committee, UB Council Member, Ms.
June Hoeflich, UB Provost and Executive Vice President
for Academic Affairs, Charles Zukoski, honored
guests and speakers, members of the president’s
cabinet and senior leadership, associate deans, chairs, and
SUNY distinguished faculty. As our first speaker,
I would like to welcome Provost Zukoski to give his remarks. Provost Zukoski. – Good afternoon! This is truly a joyous day for all of our graduates,
all the families and friends that are gathered here today. It is a great pleasure to be here for the 2018 School of Engineering and Applied Sciences commencement. I truly am thrilled to be
here today with you all to celebrate the exceptional
achievements to date of all of our graduates and to anticipate what you will accomplish as
you move into the future. As one of the nation’s leading
public research universities, UB has a mission of creating
new knowledge and communicating this knowledge to you, the
next generation of leaders, professionals, researchers, and citizens. We take seriously our
responsibility to improve the human condition
through our scholarship, economic development, and
engagement activities. Graduates, as UB students,
you have been partners in the process of seeking
and using knowledge and innovation to solve
the world’s challenges. You have learned from
internationally renowned thought leaders and accomplished
professors in engineering, who have designed your degree programs to prepare you for success. You have developed deep domain knowledge and advanced technical
skills in engineering and in the sciences and shared them through your publications,
presentations, and projects. You have had the opportunity
to collaborate with students from across disciplines
in student competitions and you have gained valuable,
hands-on engineering experiences through applied projects and in direct engagement with
business and industry leaders. You have taken advantage of
many research opportunities and cutting-edge technology
offered by our top-ranked School of Engineering
and Applied Sciences. You have challenged
yourselves, have been exposed to the wealth of ideas and technologies and had meaningful
interactions with your peers and your professors. These are the experiences that
shape your unique perspective and way of approaching the world. It is this distinctive combination
of classroom, laboratory, team-building, and out of class
experiences that enables you to develop the technical
skills, and just as importantly, the creativity, the empathy,
the human understanding that are needed to succeed
in the engineering field. You are graduating in an era
of excitement, uncertainty, and unforeseeable
opportunities characterized by fast-paced technological
changes and disruptions. Currently, a strong and evolving
knowledge-based economy, changing demographics, and
an ever-changing political and social dynamic. The technologies you develop
to respond to new challenges take advantage of emerging opportunities that will need to be responsive to the richness of human experience. Your UB education has
prepared you to be flexible and responsive to these
shifting trends and needs to meet the challenges head-on
and to be lifelong learners. These are the attributes that will assure your success in the future,
no matter what it might bring. Each of you has the
capacity to change the world and I urge you to take
what you have learned and apply it to the betterment of society. My sincere and heartfelt congratulations to the 2018 University of
Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences graduates. We are so proud of you and all
that you have accomplished. (audience applauding) – Thank you, Provost Zukoski. I would now like to invite Liesl Folks, Dean of the School of
Engineering and Applied Sciences to give her remarks. – Welcome, everybody. My warm congratulations go to all of you who are graduating from the
University of Buffalo today. I am so, so proud of you all! I suspect that many of
you have mixed emotions; hope and anticipation for what the next phase of life will bring, tinged with a little of
the sadness that comes from moving apart from good friends, and leaving a place that
has probably felt like home. My congratulations go to
all the family and friends who are here today to
witness this transition from student to graduate. I suspect that many of you
also have mixed emotions, as these very special people
move out into the bigger world. Enormous pride, I am certain, and maybe just a little anxiety, too. Your support has been
critical to the success of these students, and
we thank you deeply. My warm appreciation
also to the engineering and applied sciences faculty and staff who have nurtured our students’ success. I know that you have
enthusiastically shared all kinds of engineering and science knowledge, skills and wisdom with our students. I know that you have coached them on the professional
behaviors that they will need to survive and thrive. But, in truth, the most
important thing that we hope to impart to our students
while they are here at UB is a love of learning. To paraphrase Albert Einstein who was very likely
paraphrasing other wise folk, Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of minds to think. Each of you should go
forth completely confident in your ability to learn new skills, to understand new science
as it is discovered, and to be fully capable of
adapting to new circumstances. We estimate that more than 75
percent of the technical jobs that will exist in 2030
haven’t been invented yet. For you, our graduates, the ability to acquire new knowledge and new skills will be the most important
thing you take with you from UB. And so, as you graduate today from this prestigious university, you join the ranks of the 36,000 alumni of the School of Engineering
and Applied Sciences, a valuable network of
connectors and boosters, advisors, and yes, employers. Know that you can reach out to them to ask for advice or help, and know that they will be
very willing to help you, because of your shared experiences
at this great university. In addition to giving our
time, our alumni have provided invaluable financial
support for your education, and we owe them great thanks for this. Students, as you graduate today, with the indefinable stamp
of your great education at the University at
Buffalo, we hope that you will do marvelous things for humanity, adapting over the course of your careers to the demands placed upon you, and that you will find delight in your achievements and impacts. We hope that, as alumni of UB, you will stretch out a hand to those who are following in your footsteps, becoming a link in the unbroken chain that stretches around the
globe and through the ages. Congratulations Class of 2018. (audience applauding) – Thank you, Dean Folks. Starting last year, when
the commencement ceremony became a casualty of our own success, we split the graduation ceremonies into separate undergraduate
and graduate events. We then decided to invite one
of our distinguished alumni to give the graduate address. I would now like to invite Dean Folks back to the podium to
introduce this year’s speaker. – Thank you, Dr. Errington. It is with great pleasure
that I introduce Victor Bahl, UB alumnus, Distinguished
Scientist and the Director of Mobility & Networking
Research at Microsoft. Victor received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees
from UB in 1986 and 1988 from what was called the
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He received his PhD from the
University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1997. In his current position
with Microsoft Research’s Redmond Lab leadership team, Dr. Bahl oversees more than
200 researchers and engineers and works on matters
related to the health, technical strategy,
and vibrant functioning of Microsoft’s premier Research Labs. He also advises Microsoft’s CEO and the senior leadership team on long-term vision and strategy related to networked
systems, mobile computing, wireless systems, cloud computing, and data center networking. Dr. Bahl has made many seminal industry-shaping contributions
in networked systems for which he has received
many prestigious technical and leadership awards. He has published over 125 papers
with over 42,000 citations, delivered over 40 keynote speeches, and has been granted over 145 patents. He is a Fellow of the ACM,
the IEEE, and the AAAS. Together with his wife, he
co-founded Computing For All, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit
organization dedicated to increasing and enhancing
computer science education for students of all ages
and from all backgrounds. We are exceptionally proud of Dr. Bahl, and I am delighted to
invite him now to address the Class of 2018. Dr. Bahl. (audience applauding) – Dean Folks, thank you
so much for your kind and generous remarks and introduction. Provost Zukoski, Dean Folks,
distinguished faculty, staff, families, alumni, and most of all, to the graduates of UB
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Thank you for inviting me to
celebrate this day with you and I’m deeply honored to be here. To the graduates, I say congratulations. You did it. Now, you worked really
hard to get to this point, and so I want you take
a moment to think about what you’ve accomplished. And I want you to enjoy that. And to the mentors, to
the parents, grandparents, guardians of these grads, think about what your students have accomplished
and you must be feeling extremely happy and joyous. So congratulations to you as well. (audience applauding) So, almost 30 years ago, I was sitting precisely where you’re sitting. I was waiting to get my
Master of Science degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. It was a culmination of a
five year journey for me, which started in 1983
when I came to Buffalo to get my Bachelor of Science degrees. They were formative years for me. I was not only learning engineering, but I was also learning about life. Steven Sample was the
president of UB at the time. It was a time of Michael
Jackson’s Thriller, YouTube, that turns out to still be around. It was U2’s Joshua Tree, John
Travolta’s Staying Alive. It was also time of the
assassination of Indira Gandhi. It was a time of Ronald and
Nancy Reagan and of Jim Kelly, who when the amazing Buffalo
Bills were getting ready to go to the Super Bowl four times in a row. I’m sure you remember some of that. (audience applauding) It was also the time of
ten-cent chicken wings, which by the way, I had yesterday. It was $1.20 a piece. (laughing) So, it’s interesting. So I worked in a Norton Cafeteria. I don’t know if it’s still there. I think it’s not. But I very quickly became
Buffalo’s best sandwich maker. So here’s the deal. So we were two of us on
the sub stations, right, and so, it was always the case
the line that was with me was two to three times that of the other guy. You might ask why that was the case. Well, early on in life, I
realized that providing value was so much more than rules. So management had strict orders that you could only put
three ounces of meat in the sub sandwich but I
conveniently disregarded that and I would just pour a lot
of meat and cheese on it. And the word spread. So when the word spread, all
the students thought they were getting great value so they
would always line up against my sub station and not the other guy. The issue was that the
management couldn’t fire me because I was so popular
and I actually increased their sub sales that, and, you know, it was sort of really popular. So making, having value, or creating value is so much more important than let’s say some rules that you may be
following and things of that. So UB is also where I learned
the importance of coffee in a graduate student’s life. (laughing) I noticed that the coffee
machine has been removed from Bell Hall, which is kind of
sad because I remember sipping on the coffee on dark winter nights, looking at the snow falling
and thinking to myself, “What the heck did I do to
come to Buffalo here for?” (laughing) But it was all good. What was good about the
whole thing was that I was actually working under inspired teachers. I remember to this day Dr. Caprio, who introduced me to communication
systems in theory class. I used to get up at 6:30 in the morning, get over the wet snow, get on the bus, come from Main Street
Campus to the Amherst Campus and take his 8:00 a.m.
classes in the morning. I also remember, vividly
remember Dr. Case’s freshman computer science
class, where he was somehow use a metaphor of a talking frog to teach us Fortran and Pascal. I can’t remember what it was. I think it was sort of a go-to statement or something that he was trying to say, you know, frogs jump, anyway. And Dr. Pham and Sumec, who
I believe are still here, who taught advanced signal processing. And I couldn’t really figure
out whether their job in life was to show how smart they
were or how dumb we were. (laughing) But, it was all good. Okay, so the 80s was also the time when there was tremendous
population growth and there was a start of a tech boom and was beginning to cause
socio-economic changes that we see now, for example. Manufacturing was moving
out of the United States. The AIDS epidemic was starting
to show its ugly head. The global warming became
a thing for the scientists. Supply-side economics was beginning to cause instability international trade. And tensions between the
superpowers was rising as the Soviet Empire was dismantling. In 1988, I did not know what
life had in store for me. But I was young, I was fearless, and I felt confident that
UB had prepared me well. And my mother had actually helped me find my purpose, my North Star. I’ll come to that in a second. Your world is also in turn perhaps more than ever before. I feel that I’m constantly
hammered by negative news on TV and radio these days. It is very difficult
to find a news channel where you don’t have a panel of experts sitting around the table
and continuously eroding our trust and confidence
in our elected officials. Negative behavior,
misrepresentation, misinformation are covered 24/7. Economic disparity is creating hatred and polarizing our nation. Russia, looks like a
threat to our democracy. North Korea has already
built a nuclear weapon. Iran may be building one,
especially now that we sort of moved away from the treaty. Gun violence has infiltrated our schools. Terrorism is on the rise. There were 45 incidents in
the European Union states, countries, in the last two years itself. And we are building the wall. So there is enough to sort
of feel depressed, but don’t. Let me share with you now what my mother told me 30 years ago. She told me, “Become a force of good. “Become the force of positive change.” You are engineers and scientists. Take a moment to think about that. Think about your amazing
things that your predecessors have built and developed and invented. Their work, your work, is changing the world for
the better and it’s all good. It’s all positive. One of the best decisions
I made in my life was to become an engineer. And I hope that when you
look back at your life, that’s exactly what you will say as well. Now, I feel very privileged
to be in a profession where I work with smart,
passionate, out-of-box thinkers, scientists and genius
like Andrew Phillips, who is developing new theories and methods for understanding information processing in biological systems. He and his colleagues
are creating knowledge and using it to design and develop DNA-based molecular circuitry and to grant synthetic biological devices to perform complex functions. They are driven by their
passion to understand how computation is performed
by cells during development and how the adaptive immune system detects viruses and cancers. They believe, viruses and cancers, yeah. They believe, and I
believe, that the knowledge they are helping create will get rid of some of worst heart-wrenching diseases that our planet has been suffering from. I work in a lab where
researchers like Michael Freeman and Krista Swar are dedicating their lives to developing complex mathematical story behind toxicological quantum computing. They are developing quantum
algorithms and designing comprehensive frameworks
for testing these algorithms to improve them. The insights that they
will gain from this, combined with the
experimental breakthroughs that we’ll have will
help our world develop the first quantum hardware and software that’ll change the face of computing. They are passionate about
this because they believe, I believe, that quantum
computing will force us to rethink and re-attack
problems whose solution has eluded us for decades. I too spent the early part
of my career working on bridging the digital divide. It is estimated about 4
billion people in this world still do not have access to the internet. This then creates the
information divide and I believe that causes tremendous
amount of social problems that we see today. See, the quality of the decision you make is directly dependent on the quality of the information you have. You know, the old adage will
say information is power is much truer today
than it ever was before. So for eight years, I worked passionately on building technologies to make inexpensive broadband
internet access available to those who did not have it. In this quest, we invented
several new technology. Opportunistic networking,
spectrum databases. We created dozens of pilots and connected hundreds of thousands of
students in rural areas and we lobbied the government
all over the world. In the end of it, the
government around the world opened up spectrum for unlicensed use, which made it easier to
create inexpensive access. Now I want to share with you
a note that Steven Mafabi, a 16-year-old student from
Kenya, Africa, wrote to us. We had connected his
school through the internet and he wrote the
following thing on a blog. He said, “As one of the lucky students “of Gukava Secondary School, “I am so humbled by the noble
project you have brought “to our school; that is so kind of you. “We promise to take great
care of this precious project. “We are grateful to you and our mighty Lord bless
you better for more.” Now this child had never
ever surfed the web before, so when we connected his
world, he saw a brand new world full of information, full of knowledge. His whole life changed. This is what engineers do. So engineers and
scientists change the world and you will change the world. You will become the
backbone of our society. You will keep our world moving forward. Your predecessors have built
and sent interstellar probes that have traveled 12 billion miles and are still moving forward. They have created meta-materials
that have properties that are non-existent in nature. They have created a
global positioning system, the internet, that has
connected everybody, and the nuclear power. So my dear Class of 2018,
you will do even more. You will make the world a
much better place to live in. The examples I gave are good for society and good for business and I want you to internalize this point deeply. Your economic well-being
is not mutually exclusive from developing a solution
for societal good. Our profession affords us the opportunity to be creative and solve
big societal problems for your time. If you believe you cannot do this in your job that you have, then find a job that you can and become the force of good, become the force of positive change. I wanted to go and become leaders, okay, so clarity of vision and
the force of their passion great leaders create a
multiplier effect that can scale and they become the
force of positive change. You might be thinking that, hey, it’s easier said than done. How do I become a leader? That’s a fair question
to ask and let me respond by saying, start by volunteering. Okay, so one of my jobs is to actually find and grow leaders. So, let me share a secret with you. I look for leaders in
volunteer organizations. I believe that is where
you find authentic people with a purpose. Volunteers go beyond their
day jobs to relentlessly pursue a cause that they
passionately believe in. Now note that management position
does not mean leadership. Not all managers are great leaders. Leadership is much, much
more than management and it is about having
clarity and the conviction and the confidence to execute… Execute against adversities. One of the organizations
provided the opportunity to hone your leadership
skills, and often much… because you have to convince people to believe in your cause. They can, by charisma, authenticity, can-do attitude and a clear plan. I learned my leadership
skills in volunteering in several organizations
and when I didn’t find one that was pursuing my cause, I created one. Now I’ve also seen this in
my own wife, very first-hand. Like you, she too also had a
graduate degree in engineering. She left her high-paying job, a high-paying technical management job in corporate America
and became a volunteer, where she transformed into a true leader. She now runs her own company, which is focused on
bringing computer science to people who don’t
actually get access to it, the under-represented minority
and women in poor areas. And many like-minded
women have actually joined that and moving the thing forward. So look around you. People have this inherent need to do good. When you combine this with your passion, to become a force of good, you will become the
force of positive change. The multiplier effect that you
create will increase impact. And remember, leadership
skills are transferrable. Learning how to mobilize
people towards a common cause is exactly how great American institutes and corporations were built. So volunteer and become a leader. So, I want to leave you with one question, and this is an eternal question that is asked again and again, multiple times, so it’s not new. How do you want to be remembered? Fast forward your life to
2048, 30 years from now, (mumbles) and think about how the world has changed. Look back, write the story of your life. What role did you play
in changing the world? What did you accomplish? What did you live a life of purpose? Did the world become a better place because you lived in it? Class of 2018, I implore
you to have a vision of your life and be very deliberate about the problems you work on. Surround yourself with
good people who are smart, who think critically, and
have a can-do attitude. They will up your game. Don’t wait to figure things out. Roll up your sleeves, and start now and figure it out as you go along. Those who think boldly, take initiatives, operate fearlessly, and persevere will get us to the next level. You are the authors of your life story and I promise you that
you have the tools now and the knowledge to
become the force of good, the force of positive change. There is no time to waste. Your world needs you and
it is yours for the taking. Take it. Once again, thank you very
much for having me here. Congratulations and best
wishes to all of you. (audience applauding) (audience applauding) – Thank you, Dr. Bahl. I would now like to introduce the graduate student speaker, Mary Canty. Mary is a native of Western New York and earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Biomedical Engineering
this past February. (audience applauding) – “There has been an alarming increase “in the number of things
that I know nothing about.” These are Ashleigh
Brilliant’s words of wisdom printed on the inside
cover of my Junior Year Essential Physics of
Medical Imaging textbook. They were placed next to a cartoon of a very unassuming teddy bear, as if the editor was trying to say, “There’s a pretty good chance “this isn’t going to make sense, “but here is a teddy bear, I
hope that softens the blow.” Over the five years, one
hundred plus credit hours, and two degrees that eventually followed, this still holds very true. At the time, I related this quote mostly towards my engineering coursework. Every time I walked into
class I knew I walking out with infinitely more questions
than I ever imagined. There were times that I
found this very unnerving, afraid I would never understand or even make it out of
school as an engineer, but this constant state of not knowing also instilled in me an insatiable
curiosity to learn more. Curiosity is the driving
force behind people choosing, studying, and discovering what they do. I would not be surprised if a
very similar curiosity exists in many of my fellow graduates here today. Throughout our tenure
as graduate students, we undoubtedly uncovered
struggles and new questions that eventually led to our
own triumphs and discoveries. There were twists and
turns, making it at times seem impossible to go
from Point A to Point B, even if it really was
just a straight line. I believe that we’d be very hard pressed to find someone in this group who really did just go
in that straight line. We all had those experiments
that didn’t work, or the ones that did, but they opened a whole can of worms that
you were entirely sure just added a year to your PhD thesis. But along the way, our perpetual curiosity kept us going, it kept us interested, and it helped us be able
to see that finish line. While there are a million
things that I’ve learned that I do not know, there is one thing that I am very certain about. There are countless people who have helped each and every one of
us get to where we are, right now here today. The University at Buffalo has
been an unbelievable resource for me over the past
eight years of education, providing the education,
support and resources that I need for my academic career. It never ceased to amaze me
how such a large university could shrink down and feel so small. There were professors who
took the time to teach, to answer emails, to hold office hours. Our friends who made
school a little bit easier and lab work a lot more fun. And most importantly for many of us, there are our loved ones, who made sacrifices for each of us to be where we are, right here today. They supported our curiosity
each and every step of the way, no matter how crazy it was. So yes, there has been
an alarming increase in the number of things
that I know nothing about, but there’s also been an
increase in the number of things that I am now passionately curious about. We are collectively a
group of curious minds that will go on to lead
successful careers, make brilliant discoveries, and challenge the young people who follow us. So, thank you all for
your attention today, and congratulations to
all of the graduates! (audience applauding) – Thank you, Mary. Mary was the winner of the graduate student
speaker competition. She was chosen by a committee comprised of faculty and staff. Mary will receive a 2018
ring compliments of Jostens. Congratulations, Mary. (audience applauding) The Chancellor’s Award
for Student Excellence honors State University
of New York students who have been recognized
for their integration of academic excellence with other aspects of their lives such as
leadership, campus involvement, and community service. Dean Folks will now acknowledge
the School of Engineering and Applied Science’s recipients of the SUNY Chancellor’s
Award for Student Excellence. – Thank you, Jeff. It makes me very proud to
introduce our recipients of the Chancellor’s Award
for Student Excellence. Our first graduate
recipient is Mary Canty, whom you just met. Since her graduation,
Mary has been working as a postdoctoral associate in the Department of
Microbiology and Immunology in the Jacobs School of Medicine
and Biomedical Sciences. Please come up, Mary. (audience applauding) Our second recipient, Philip Schneider of Williamsville, New York, graduates with a Doctor
of Philosophy degree in electrical engineering. After graduation, Phil will be working at Qualcomm’s Biometric
Center for Excellence in the advanced R&D Division. Please come forward, Philip. (audience applauding) – Thank you very much. – Congratulations to our
Chancellor’s Award winners. (audience applauding) Graduation marks the
culmination of your masters or doctoral academic
experience here at UB, and this celebration
celebrates your success. The degrees authorized by the Trustees of the State University of New York will now be conferred by Provost Zukoski. The candidates will be
presented by Dean Folks. Will the candidates for Master’s degrees, including combined degrees, please stand and remain at their seats. – Provost Zukoski, on behalf of the faculty of the university, I have the honor of
recognizing these candidates. They have met all the
requirements of the university and are recommended to you by the faculty for the Master of Engineering degree, Master of Science degree or combined Bachelor and Master’s degree. – By the authority of the Trustees and the Chancellor of the
State University of New York, and the Council and the faculty of the University at Buffalo, I now confer upon each of you the Master of Science Engineering degree, Master of Science degree or combined Bachelor and Master
degree that you have earned, with all of the rights and
privileges thereto pertaining. Congratulations, you may now
move your tassel to the left. (audience applauding) – Students, please be seated. We will now ask each group to come forward as directed by a faculty
marshal to be greeted by Provost Zukoski, Dean Folks,
and their department chair. Graduates will be presented with a UB pin, compliments of UB’s Alumni Association. When you are finished on the platform, please return to your seat. Names will be read by Professors
Mettupalayam Sivaselvan and Varun Chandola. It is requested that the
audience hold their applause until all candidates for a given degree have had their names read. We also request that
you do not come forward to take photographs during the ceremony. There is an official photographer who will take photographs
of each degree recipient as they walk across the stage.

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