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When Albert Manero ’12 ’14MS ’16PhD walks onto the commencement stage this Thursday, it won’t be as a graduate. This time, he will be the commencement speaker for the College of Engineering and Computer Science’s in-person ceremony, to be held at Addition Financial Arena at 1 p.m. on May 6.

He will address the largest graduating class in the history of the college, with approximately 1,000 bachelor’s degrees, 240 master’s degrees and 40 doctoral degrees to be conferred.

It’s a full circle moment for Manero, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering, and his doctoral degree in mechanical engineering from MAE.

“It is an incredible honor to be selected for the commencement ceremony. I am proud to be a Knight and am so excited to celebrate our newest class of graduates.”

The three-time UCF graduate is also the co-founder of Limbitless Solutions, a UCF-based nonprofit organization that designs affordable 3D-printed bionic limbs for children and adults. He launched the effort in 2014, when he was still a graduate student, with the help of classmates John Sparkman ’15MS and Dominique Courbin ’18. He said the experience of working with others is the biggest takeaway of his college journey.

“The lesson I took away most was how important collaboration is when working towards a big goal or project,” Manero says. “One mentor gave me a quote highlighting the importance of viewing graduation only as a checkpoint, and that we must continue to learn and renew every day.”

Manero continues to push himself and his work to new heights. As a student, he received the Order of Pegasus, the university’s highest honor for students, and in 2015, he received the Champion of Service Award, the state’s highest honor for public service. Bill Gates has blogged about Limbitless Solutions, and the United Nations has invited Manero to speak at its events for the past four consecutive years.

Over this past year, Manero and his team met the challenges caused by the pandemic head-on. They 3D-printed visors for face shields that were distributed to healthcare workers, and they collaborated with a medical team in Oregon to design a 3D-printed ventilator that does not require electricity.

This year’s graduating class, which includes seven Limbitless Solutions interns, has faced its own unique set of challenges as students finishing college during the pandemic. Manero believes these challenges made the Class of 2021 stronger than ever.

“Our graduates have demonstrated their persistence and determination,” he said. “I believe that they will leverage their skills and ability to adapt to any challenge. They will be exceptional at their next stage of their journey, whether in industry, academics, or service.”