Low Center for Industrial Innovation

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File:RPI Low Center2.jpg
The Low Center, with the Darrin Communications Center in the foreground right

The George M. Low Center for Industrial Innovation, otherwise known as the Low Center or CII, is a major industry-funded research center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


The center is named after George M. Low, who was an important administrator at NASA and President of the institute during the time of construction. With the support of Eastman Kodak, IBM, Colt Industries and General Electric, a proposal was made to Governor Hugh Carey to jointly sponsor a research and teaching center to promote industrial innovation. In July 1982, the State of New York agreed to use Rensselaer as the site for the new center. President Low stated that the State had "taken a giant step in its efforts to attract, nurture and keep advanced technology business in the state, a step that is certain to make a substantial impact on New York 's economy."[1] Construction began during the summer of 1984 and the center was dedicated on May 14, 1987.


The CII building is notorious for its tall, hollow center stairwells. In 1992 the self-declared Rensselaer Drop Squad spent most of a semester dropping a series of ever more bizarre items down the 7-story stairwell before they were eventually apprehended. The items included typewriters, 150 McDonald's hamburgers, tennis balls and a Christmas tree.[2]


On 29 March 2007, RPI graduate Anson Tripp committed suicide by jumping from the top of one of the stairwells after traveling to RPI from Massachusetts.[3] Because of uncertainties surrounding the death, there was a full evacuation of the building and shutdown of all campus activities after his body was found.

(Copied from Wikinews:) The body of Anson Tripp, 29, of Amherst, Massachusetts, a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute alumnus was found in the South East stairwell of the CII building of the school's Troy, New York campus by a college employee at approximately 10 AM. The former student had driven to RPI that morning from his home in Amherst, Massachusetts. Tripp left his home in Amherst in the morning and drove to Rensselaer, where he entered the CII and climbed to the top of one of the stairwells and apparently jumped to his death. He suffered multiple broken bones and head trauma in the jump, and his body came to rest between the fourth and fifth floors.

In a letter to the school community, President Shirley Jackson begins: Template:CQuote

Initially authorities said the wound was "consistent with that from a gunshot," however an autopsy determined that the broken bones and trauma to the head were sustained during the fall. Earlier in the day, police indicated that "it’s possible the victim fell from the ninth floor after being injured somehow." (WNYT) People in the building had reported hearing shots, but authorities were unable to confirm a shooting and later determined there was no weapon involved.

The building was locked down as the Troy police emergency response team and Colonie SWAT team went room to room securing the facility. School president Dr. Jackson (quoted above) urged students and all non-essential staff to also leave campus (except for the dorms).

Tripp was in the class of 2000 with majors in computer science and mathematics, and a member of Alpha Phi Omega, Epsilon Zeta chapter.

Memorial service were held at Grace Episcopal Church on Wednesday, April 4th at 3PM EST.

Rebuilding efforts

Starting in early 2008, the complex will have an exterior overhaul, replacing the vast network of faulty bricks that encase the building. As of recent black tarp has been placed around part of the building to prevent falling bricks from injuring people below.


The nine-story, 200,000 sq. ft. building contains an underground high-bay, 10,000 square foot class 100 clean room [4], ninety laboratories, ten conference rooms and many offices.

Major Research Centers Housed in the Low Center

  • Center for Integrated Electronics (CIE)[5]
    • Within the CIE:
    • Center for Advanced Interconnect Systems Technologies (CAIST)
    • Center for Broadband Data Transport Science and Technology
    • Center for Microcontamination Control
    • Center for Power Electronics Systems (CPES)
    • The Focus Center - New York, Rensselaer: Interconnections for Gigascale Integration
  • Advanced Power Device Research Laboratory[6]
  • Center for Automation Technologies and Systems (CATS)[7]
  • New York State Center for Studies of the Origin of Life[8]
  • Center for Terahertz Research[9]
  • Scientific Computation Research Center[10]
  • Future Chips Constellation[11]

The George M. Low Gallery
Upon his death, the Low family bequeathed all of Low's awards and memorabilia to the institute. These possessions were included in the George M. Low Gallery, a museum on the fourth floor, which is a tribute to George Low, NASA, and the engineers of the Apollo program. It is designed to make one feel almost as if they are in outer space; darkness contrasts with the lit exhibits, and pictures of astronauts and space are backlit from the outside.

External links and references

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Pages shamelessly copied over from Wikipedia)


Rensselaer at HartfordLally School of Management & TechnologyComputational Center for Nanotechnology

Student Life

PeopleFraternities and SororitiesGrand MarshalsRPI Pep BandRPI SongsWRPIRPI TV


Amos Eaton HallCarnegie BuildingCenter for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary StudiesChapel + Cultural Center at RensselaerEMPACFolsom Library Greene BuildingHirsch ObservatoryHouston Field HouseJonsson Engineering CenterLow Center for Industrial Innovation