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Dayton Engineer

Student overcomes obstacles to be called 'doctor;' University of Dayton winter graduation set for Dec. 18

By Shawn Robinson, associate director of news and communications

Getting a Ph.D. was an all or nothing venture for Andrew Reinhardt. He already had a job, but he had always wanted a doctorate and a career doing research. So when he had the opportunity to pursue that goal with the University of Dayton Department of Electro-Optics and Photonics, he said he jumped at it, and nothing was going to stop him, not even cerebral palsy and the autism spectrum disorder Asperger's syndrome.

"It took a little while to get past the back-of-my-mind questioning of that decision, and in the end of things, it definitely worked out for the best," said Reinhardt, who started working as an optical research engineer with Riverside Research Institute in Beavercreek, Ohio, after completing his dissertation in August. "I honestly don't think it was until early this year that it really clicked with me that the goal was truly obtainable.

"I am forever grateful to everyone, especially the electro-optics and photonics department and my adviser, Dr. Paul McManamon, who gave me the opportunity to pursue my Ph.D. to its completion, enabling me to pursue a career of innovation and research."

Reinhardt will be among the nearly 1,100 University of Dayton undergraduate, master's and doctoral students honored for earning their degrees at 9:45 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, in University of Dayton Arena. The winter commencement exercises also include students with degrees conferred in August. Reinhardt will not be attending the winter commencement ceremony but the electro-optics and photonics department will honor him with one separately. 

"Andy should be an example of how someone with disabilities can succeed at the University of Dayton," said Dr. Andrew Sarangan, chair of UD's electro-optics and photonics department. "Andy was excellent in his work and was the lead author in three peer-reviewed journal articles during his Ph.D. studies, more than exceeding what's required for graduation."

McManamon concurs.

"Andy is an inspiration to anyone living with challenges who are not sure they can meet their life goals," said McManamon, technical director of UD's Lidar and Optical Communications Institute.

Graduates and their guests attending the commencement ceremony are expected to wear face coverings. Physical distancing is suggested where possible. Tickets are not required for guests. Graduation details and COVID-19 protocols are subject to change. UD's commencement ceremony will be streamed live here

The University also will hold a baccalaureate Mass at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17, in UD's Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. Face coverings are required in the chapel.

More information can be found at

For interviews, contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of news and communications, at 

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