Webb Institute Celebrates 128th Commencement with Inspiring Keynote by Tech Entrepreneur, Diane B. Greene

GLEN COVE, NY – June 17, 2024 – Webb Institute, a leading institution for naval architecture and marine engineering, celebrated its 128th commencement ceremony this weekend, marking a significant milestone for its graduates and the maritime community. The event featured a keynote address by Diane B. Greene, renowned technology entrepreneur, co-founder, and former CEO of VMware, who shared her inspiring journey and insights on leadership, innovation, and the importance of lifelong learning.

Diane B. Greene being awarded her Honorary Doctorate Degree from Webb President, Mark Martecchini and Board Chair, Bruce Rosenblatt

In her address, Ms. Greene emphasized the power of following one’s passion and embracing curiosity. Reflecting on her own path, she recounted a pivotal moment when a professor encouraged her to pursue naval architecture at MIT, a decision that ultimately shaped her career. “That little bit of encouragement to stretch myself beyond where I imagined my capabilities was enormous in altering the course of my life,” she shared. “I still aspire to help others as that professor helped me.”

Ms. Greene’s journey through MIT was marked by a blend of rigorous academic pursuit and personal passions. “At MIT, I learned rigor and developed a new area of interest—computer science,” she said. “Meanwhile, I was having fun on the water while, unbeknownst to me, continuing to develop my leadership skills through running regattas.” She emphasized the importance of curiosity, noting, “Humans are born with innate curiosity. Over my entire career, it has remained one of the most important qualities I look for when hiring someone.”

Drawing parallels between her experience and the education at Webb Institute, Ms. Greene praised the graduates for their depth of knowledge. “I have to say the more I learn about Webb Institute, the more I see that much of the value of your education is that you’ve all gone deep,” she remarked. Sharing advice she often gives to entrepreneurs, she said, “When I advise entrepreneurs, I always remind them that they are, or need to be, the world expert in what they are building.”

President of Webb Institute, Mark Martecchini speaks at its 128th commencement

Ms. Greene also touched upon the exciting future of naval architecture, highlighting opportunities in simulation, automation, new materials, and manufacturing processes, all leading to greater sustainability. “Naval architecture today seems to have amazing opportunities…All these things will help move the world forward,” she concluded.

Webb Institute’s President, Mark Martecchini expressed his pride in the graduating class and gratitude to Diane Greene for her inspiring words. “Our graduates are set to make significant contributions to the maritime field and beyond. Diane Greene’s journey and insights have given them the inspiration and guidance to excel in their careers.”

About Webb Institute:

Webb Institute is a top-ranked institution dedicated to preparing students for successful careers in naval architecture, marine engineering, and fields beyond, with every student receiving a full-tuition scholarship. With a rigorous curriculum, hands-on internship experiences, and a strong emphasis on innovation, Webb Institute graduates are highly sought after by leading companies in the maritime industry.

Webb Institute Mourns the Loss of Philanthropist, Mathematician, and our Guest Lecturer, Jim Simons

Webb Institute mourns the loss of Dr. James (Jim) Simons, a renowned mathematician, investor, and philanthropist known for his groundbreaking work in geometry and topology. He founded Renaissance Technologies, one of the world’s most successful hedge funds. Dr. Simons, along with his wife Marilyn, generously supported a wide range of causes, including Webb Institute.

In 2011 and 2014, the Simons made gifts to Webb in support of scholarships. These contributions have helped our students to pursue their education and careers in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering.  Despite Dr. Simons achievements in finance, he told us what brought him to Webb – his interest in boats. As he stated “I have had a lot of boats, and I have loved every one of them.”Dr. Simons captivates the audience with his Zeien Lecture on "Mathematics, Common Sense, and Good Luck."

Dr. Simons captivates the audience with his Zeien Lecture on “Mathematics, Common Sense, and Good Luck.”

John Russell '67, Dr. Simons, and former Webb President Robert C. Olsen share a moment in the auditorium following Dr. Simons' presentation at Webb.

John Russell ’67, Dr. Simons, and former Webb President Robert C. Olsen share a moment in the auditorium following Dr. Simons’ presentation at Webb.

In April 2011, Dr. Simons presented at Webb as a Zeien Lecture speaker. His lecture, titled “Mathematics, Common Sense and Good Luck,” was a testament to his passion for mathematics and his ability to make complex ideas accessible to a wide audience. His visit to Webb was a memorable event for us. The appreciation he had for boats guided his work, as he stated in the lecture.

“First, don’t run with the pack. Try something different. Secondly, find great partners, people who are really good at what they do. Third, be guided by beauty. Mathematics involves beautiful and elegant systems, and a business organization can be a beautiful system if you have bright people who are motivated and work well together.”

“Jim Simons was not only a brilliant mathematician and a successful entrepreneur, but he was also an incredibly generous philanthropist. His contributions to education have had an impact on countless institutions, including ours. His legacy will continue to inspire and support future generations,” stated Webb Institute’s President, Mark Martecchini.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to Marilyn and the entire Simons family. Jim’s contributions to mathematics, finance, and philanthropy will continue to inspire and support future generations. And his advice to be guided by beauty in our work still lives on at Webb—to evoke a sense of love and romance in everything we do.

The Wallin Legacy at Webb: Appreciation of Arts & Culture

Anthony Zic - Development Written by Anthony Zic, Director of Development


The rigors of a Webb education are well documented–based on a systems approach to engineering and designed to be of such quality and depth that all graduates are prepared to enter the profession and hit the ground running. Our Winter Work term provides students with firsthand experience in the industry and encourages attitudes and work habits that contribute to a sense of professional excellence.

As important as these academic tenets are to professional success, there is more to the Webb experience, some of which is less tangible and less STEM-focused. The Wallins, Homer PG’62 and Katherine, better known to the Webb family as Norm & Kitty, had a unique appreciation for the arts and culture. Their hope was “that Webb students could experience an enjoyable time in the Big Apple.” Beginning in 2012, in recognition of Norm’s 50th anniversary of graduation from Webb’s graduate school, the Wallins established the Webb Cultural Enrichment Endowment.

In the years to follow, this fund would subsidize various cultural outings, particularly in the performing arts in the New York area, just as Norm & Kitty hoped it would. Among other memorable events, Webb students had the privilege of experiencing Broadway plays such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Hadestown, Death of a Salesman, and Hamilton. Webb students were also fortunate to witness a performance by the New York Philharmonic at the Lincoln Center, visited the Guggenheim Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The impact of these experiences on Webb’s student body is profound. The student-named Culture Club had a patron in the Wallins that would provide invaluable experiences for years to come. Spencer Margosian ’23 served as the Custodian of this club, a role he sought out in the later stages of his second year at Webb, after related activities resumed from a COVID-19 pandemic hiatus. In his hand-written letter to Mrs. Wallin, Spencer recollects,

“I remember the first time I heard about the Culture Club. I wasn’t even a student here yet—I was on my prospective freshman tour of Webb campus and my tour guide made a remark about having recently seen a musical which had been paid for by the Wallin fund…I was immediately enamored with the idea of the Culture Club and loved that an engineering school like Webb was still encouraging its students to get out and experience the arts…”
Spencer went on to describe the impact of one of the Culture Club’s events: “On Memorial Day Weekend 2021, myself and nineteen other Webbies headed into the city for the first formal Wallin Culture Club event since the beginning of the pandemic. We had an absolutely wonderful time at the museum, and it was clear to me in that moment that the Culture Club was
once again alive and well…the Club is thriving… Your contributions have brightened the lives of more Webbies than I can list.”

“The Webb training and personal connections were valuable and helpful in my duties in the Navy and later in the commercial marine industry. Every time I sensed the need to change jobs, a better one was presented. My 21 years at Keystone Shipping encompassed a golden era, professionally and personally rewarding,” said Norm Wallin PG’62. Norm passed away in 2021, leaving behind his wife Kitty, who continues to generously support the college.

In addition to establishing the Webb Cultural Enrichment Endowment, Norm and Kitty’s gifts enabled Webb to purchase two Lasers and restore the Steinway Grand Piano in the Visconti Reception Room. They also provided funding to refurbish the fountain in the Cuneo Courtyard, which was named as the Wallin Fountain, in memory of their son, LCDR William V. Wallin. Webb is grateful to Norm and Kitty’s for their extraordinary generosity.

Webb Culture Club’s latest adventure to watch Sweeney Todd in New York City.

Renewed Investment in Webb from the Robert D.L. Gardiner Foundation Drives a Banner Admissions Cycle

Since 2018, the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation has played a major role in supporting Webb’s ability to attract and retain the brightest students, regardless of financial means, by providing need-based grants to students for their room and board costs. With contributions of $325,000 over two multi-year grants, the Foundation’s giving helps make a Webb education truly accessible to all.

Webb is experiencing a banner year in admissions with a 32% increase in total applications over the last three years, a 34% increase in female applicants and an over-50% increase in students expected to require financial assistance if admitted, with an increasingly diverse applicant pool and growing numbers of first-generation college applicants. The final makeup of the Class of 2028 is still developing – the admissions process is underway, including student exams, interviews, and overnight visits which give prospective students an appreciation for what makes Webb special – and the support of our donors plays a key role in Webb’s commitment to meeting the full demonstrated need of Webb students.

The Honorable Peter Fox Cohalan, Trustee of the Gardiner Foundation

“The Robert D. L. Gardiner Foundation proudly recognizes and supports Webb Institute’s steadfast commitment to maritime heritage and educational excellence. The Foundation is eager to further William Webb’s mission of attracting and educating tomorrow’s leaders in an extraordinary learning community focused on engineering and design in the maritime field. We are proud of our continued partnership with Webb,” said Kathryn M. Curran, Executive Director of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation.

Students who have benefited from Gardiner Foundation grants echo a collective “thank you” for helping make their Webb education possible. While each Webb student is awarded a full-tuition scholarship, supported by contributions from generous Webb donors which augment the endowment, room and board costs represent a significant outlay for many families, and this additional support is vital to a successful Webb experience.

Amongst current and future Webbies are voices that resonate with hope and gratitude. Some know their life’s path and just need support to navigate it: 

“During my college search, I was actively looking for schools with strong naval architecture programs. I then met a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and asked his opinion on what he felt was the best school in this discipline.  Without hesitation, he said, ‘Webb Institute!’ After my first visit to Webb, it immediately became my school of choice,” said Rayne Duff ‘25.

Others come to Webb with a passion for engineering and are later exposed to the tight-knit maritime world. Meet Karissa Nieves ’27, whose passion is matched at Webb by the support she receives. “My favorite part of being here is the Webb community. For once in my life, I feel accepted by my peers and have found people that I really connect with.”

Webb’s unique Winter Work internships have just wrapped up, with our students gaining real-life experience working across the United States and around the world. Not only do they come back with tales of discovery, adventure, and friendship, but the internships play a key role in securing the 100% job placement that Webb has become known for.

We thank the Robert D. L. Gardiner Foundation for being part of the Webb legacy that is shaping the future, one student at a time.

The Honorable Peter Fox Cohalan with a group of Webb scholarship honorees.

Professor Michael Martin named the Lester and Mandell Rosenblatt Professor of Marine and Electrical Engineering

Webb Institute is proud to announce the promotion of Michael Martin to the position of Professor and his naming as the Lester and Mandell Rosenblatt Professor of Marine and Electrical Engineering. Professor Martin has continuously demonstrated his commitment and expertise in the realms of marine engineering.

Professor Martin received a Bachelor of Engineering from Manhattan College and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT). He brings over 26 years of experience as a marine electrical engineer, specializing in a wide range of systems. His deep understanding of applicable codes, standards, and engineering practices has been instrumental in his role at Webb. His innovative work on the Hart Island Replacement Ferry, designing an all-electric, battery-operated ferry, emphasizes his commitment to sustainable engineering solutions. His work with the U.S. Marine Corps, developing an energy model for forward operating bases and a water conservation system prototype, further highlights his expertise in energy efficiency and sustainability.

At Webb, Professor Martin has taught a range of courses, including Programming with Applications, Physics III – Electricity and Magnetism, and Electrical Engineering I and II. His role as a thesis advisor has guided students through significant research projects.

Professor Martin has been a leader in the naval architecture and marine engineering community, serving as Regional Vice President with the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) in the New York Metropolitan section. Professor Martin served as past Regional Vice President with SNAME and past Chairman of the New York Metropolitan section.

We look forward to Professor Martin’s continued contributions and leadership in shaping the future of Webb.