UH Hilo 2018 Spring Commencement, May 12; clean energy visionary to keynote, student speaker planning career in teaching

Keynote Henk Rogers has spent the past decade in research and development of renewable energy sources in Hawai’i. Student speaker Matthew Ruiz, Jr, will start UH Hilo’s master of arts in teaching program this summer.

Event: 2018 Spring Commencement, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.
Date: Saturday, May 12, 2018.
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Place: Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium, Hilo.


Henk Rogers
Henk Rogers

Henk Rogers, a Dutch-born video game entrepreneur and leading clean energy advocate, will deliver the keynote address at UH Hilo’s 2018 Spring Commencement.

Rogers spent his early career as a video game developer and publisher in Japan where he produced the country’s first role-playing game, The Black Onyx. He went on to revolutionize the video game industry by securing the distribution rights for the tile-matching puzzle video game Tetris, which remains a bestseller and global icon of gaming culture. Today, he serves as chairman of Blue Planet Software, the sole agent for the Tetris franchise.

Rogers has dedicated the past decade to the research, development, advocacy and implementation of renewable energy sources in Hawai’i. He founded Blue Planet Energy Systems in 2015 to advance his mission of ending the use of carbon-based fuel worldwide. He led the development of Blue Ion, a pre-packaged energy storage solution combining industry-leading LiFeP04 battery technology with proprietary system architecture and energy management software. Blue Ion offers a safe, reliable, fully automated renewable energy solution, which he has used to declare his homes in Honolulu and Kailua-Kona completely energy independent.

Blue Planet Foundation, founded by Rogers in 2007, is the state’s leading non-profit clean energy advocate. Blue Planet has worked to make Hawai’i the first state in the nation to target 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and ground transportation sectors. The organization’s signature annual energy report card has become a key marker for assessing the state’s renewable energy efforts and areas for advancement. The organization is now expanding its effort nationwide.

Other clean energy initiatives founded by Rogers include Blue Startups, Hawai’i’s first venture accelerator for local technology entrepreneurs, and Blue Planet Research, which is working on off-grid energy solutions and exploring the hydrogen economy.

Student Speaker

Matthew Ruiz Jr
Matthew Ruiz Jr

Matthew Ruiz Jr., a sociology major, will represent the graduating class as student speaker. Ruiz was born in Wailuku, Maui and graduated from Maui High School in 2013. He transferred to UH Hilo in fall 2016 after earning an associate degree in liberal arts from Hawaiʻi Community College.

At UH Hilo, he has maintained a 3.7 GPA, made the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s List each semester, and was awarded a CAS Dean’s Scholarship in fall 2017 and spring 2018.

Outside the classroom, Ruiz works with Admissions and New Student Programs in the Division of Student Affairs as well as a paraprofessional tutor at Chiefess Kapiʻolani Elementary School. He currently serves as vice-president of the UH Hilo Education Club and is a member of the UH Hilo Sociology Club.

Ruiz plans to enter UH Hilo’s Master of Arts in Teaching program in summer 2018. His ultimate goal is to return to Maui and teach at Lihikai Elementary School in Kahului, which he once attended.


UH Hilo students have petitioned for degrees and/or certificates from the colleges of Arts and Sciences (589); Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management (22); Business and Economics (57); Pharmacy (143); Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language (48); and for various post-graduate credentials (19).

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