Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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Template:Infobox University Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, or RPI, is a nonsectarian, coeducational private research university in Troy, New York, a city close to the state capital Albany. It was founded in 1824 by Stephen Van Rensselaer for the "application of science to the common purposes of life", and is the oldest technological university in the English-speaking world.<ref name = "history">Template:Cite web</ref> The institute is known for its success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace.

RPI's mission has slowly evolved over the years while retaining its focus on the scientific and technological roots upon which the school was founded. Adopted by the Board of Trustees in 1995, RPI's current mission is to "educate the leaders of tomorrow for technologically based careers. We celebrate discovery, and the responsible application of technology, to create knowledge and global prosperity."<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>


File:Stephen Van Rensselaer.jpg
Stephen Van Rensselaer


Stephen Van Rensselaer established the Rensselaer School November 5, 1824 with a letter to Rev. Dr. Samuel Blatchford, in which he asked him to serve as the first president. Within the letter he set down several orders of business. He appointed Amos Eaton as the school's first senior professor. He also appointed the first board of trustees. On December 29 of that year, the president and the board met and established the methods of instruction, which were rather different from methods employed at other colleges at the time. Students performed experiments and explained their rationale and gave their own lectures rather than listening to lectures and watching demonstrations.

The school opened on Monday, January 3, 1825 at the Old Bank Place, a building at the north end of Troy.<ref name = "buildings">Template:Citeweb</ref> The opening was announced by a notice, signed by the president, and printed in the Troy Sentinel of December 28. The school attracted students from New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The fact that the school attracted students from afar is attributed to the reputation of Eaton. Fourteen months of successful trial led to the incorporation of the school on March 21, 1826 by the State of New York. In its early years, the Rensselaer School had greater semblance of a graduate school than of a college. It drew graduates of older institutions such as Amherst, Bowdoin, Columbia, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, Yale, Union, Wesleyan, and Williams. Indeed, there was a considerable stream from Yale, where there were several teachers interested in the sciences.

During this period, the Rensselaer School, renamed the Rensselaer Institute in 1832, was a small but vital center for technological research. The first Civil Engineering degrees in the United States were granted by the school in 1835, and many of the best remembered civil engineers of that time graduated from the school. Important visiting scholars included Joseph Henry, who had previously studied under Amos Eaton, and Thomas Davenport, who sold the world's first working electric motor to the institute.<ref>"The blacksmith's motor" Mechanical Engineering Magazine Online. July 1999. Retrieved on 2007-02-11</ref>

In 1847, alumnus Benjamin Franklin Greene became president. Earlier he had done a through study of European technical schools to see how Rensselaer could be improved. In 1850 he reorganized the school into a three year polytechnic institute with six technical schools.<ref name ="timeline">Template:Cite web</ref> In 1861 the name was changed to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.<ref name="railroad guide">Template:Cite web</ref>


RPI enjoyed a period of academic and resource expansion under the leadership of President Palmer Ricketts. Born in 1856 in Elkton, Maryland Ricketts came to RPI in 1871 as a student.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Named President in 1901, Ricketts liberalized the curriculum by adding the Department of Arts, Science, and Business Administration and the Graduate School. He also expanded the university’s resources and developed RPI into a true polytechnic institute by increasing the number of degrees offered from two to a dozen; these included electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, biology, chemistry, and physics. During Rickett's tenure, enrollment increased from approximately 200 in 1900 to a high of 1700 in 1930.

Another period of expansion occurred following World War Two. Enrollment for the 1946 school year was so high that temporary dormitories had to be constructed. Fifty surplus metal military barracks, each housing 20 students, were arranged into a trailer-park like camp over a mile from campus nicknamed "tin town".<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> This arrangement was used by students until new freshman residence halls were opened in 1953. The new dorm complex, affectionately called "Freshman Hill", was subsequently expanded with the Commons Dining Hall in 1954, two more halls in 1958, and three more in 1968, just in time for the baby boomers. The year 1961 saw major progress in academics at the institute with the construction of the Gaerttner Linear Accelerator, then the most powerful in the world,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> and the Jonsson-Rowland Science Center. In addition to new academic buildings, the growing student body also needed a large dedicated building for the Student Union which was finished in 1967.

The next three decades brought continued growth with many new buildings (see 'Campus' below). It was during these years that the university began to become proactive in helping businesses. In 1980, several researchers and graduate students who wished to start a company approached the administration and asked for a place to set up a small lab.<ref name = "techpark">Template:Cite web</ref> The administration provided them with a basement in an old engineering building. Two weeks later, another start-up company made a similar request. It was at this point that the J-building, which had previously been used for storage, became the home for the RPI incubator program, the first such program sponsored solely by a university.<ref name = "first incubator">Template:Cite web</ref> Shortly after this, RPI decided to invest $3 million dollars in pavement, water and power on around 1,200 acres of land it owned 5 miles south of campus.<ref name = "techpark"/> Now known as the Rensselaer Technology Park, companies can rent out the land, and if they want, collaborate with RPI students and researchers. As companies began to move in, the New York State government realized how the university was helping the local economy. This is one of the reasons legislation was passed to grant RPI $30 million dollars to build the George M. Low Center for Industrial Innovation, a center for industry sponsored research and development.

In 1999, RPI gained attention when it was one of the first larger universities to implement a mandatory laptop program. Many saw the program as an unnecessary, costly, and rushed into practice too quickly by the administration.<ref>Hot Technologies on Every Pillow (2003) Research article on RPI's "laptop initiative"</ref> However, the program has persisted, and remains an integral part of life at RPI, with about 25% of the courses requiring that a student bring their laptop to class.

Having nearly two centuries of history and a high tech future in store, the Princeton Review remarks, "“Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is simultaneously the oldest technological school in the country and the most modern school of technology in the U.S. It’s like George Jetson meets Archimedes.”<ref>RPI Facts (2006) See quotes on left sidebar</ref>

Notable firsts

  • 1824 - The institute became the first technological university in the English-speaking world.
  • 1835 - The institute awarded the first civil engineering degree in the United States.<ref> Griggs, Francis E Jr. "Amos Eaton was Right!". Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice , Vol. 123, No. 1, January 1997, pp. 30-34. See also RPI Timeline</ref>
  • 1864 - The Alpha (first national) chapter of Theta Xi fraternity opens at RPI.
  • 1898 - The first association of Latin American students in the United States was formed at RPI, called the Union Hispano-Americana.<ref name=Ricketts>Template:Cite book</ref> This organization would later merge with other like-minded organizations and form the first Latin American fraternity in the United States, Phi Iota Alpha, in 1931.<ref name=Bairds>Template:Cite book</ref>
  • 1909 - Alumni of Pittsburgh, PA provide funds for the Pittsburgh Building. This was the first time in American history that the alumni of a single city raised enough money to build a building on a college campus.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
  • 1980 - The institute founds the first business incubator wholly sponsored and operated by a university.<ref name = "first incubator"/>


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has five schools: Architecture, Engineering, Humanities & Social Sciences, The Lally School of Management and Technology, and Science. The School of Engineering is the largest by enrollment, followed by the School of Science, the School of Management, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the School of Architecture. There also exists an interdisciplinary program in Information Technology that began in the late 1990s, programs in prehealth and prelaw, Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) for students desiring commissions as officers in the armed forces, a program in Cooperative Education (Co-Op), and domestic and international exchange programs. All together, the university offers around 140 degree programs in nearly 60 fields that lead to bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. RPI is a technology-oriented university; all buildings and residence hall rooms have hard-wired high speed internet access, most of the campus buildings have wireless, and all incoming freshmen have been required to purchase a laptop computer since 1999. In 2004, Forbes ranked RPI #1 for having the "most connected campus."<ref>Forbe's ranking of RPI as most connected (2004) For 2005 and 2006 it was changed to a TOP 25 system, which has also included RPI</ref>

The Newsweek/Kaplan 2007 Educational College Guide proclaimed Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute one of the 25 "New Ivies", an elite group of 25 schools that provide an education equivalent to schools in the Ivy League.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

The Rensselaer Plan

With the coming of the current president, Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, came the "Rensselaer Plan" announced in 1999. Its goal is to achieve greater prominence for RPI as a technological research university.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Various aspects of the plan include bringing in a larger graduate student population and new research faculty, and increasing participation in undergraduate research, international exchange programs, and "living and learning communities." Financially speaking, the plan uses half its money for research, a quarter for scholarships, and a quarter for campus platforms, such as athletic facilities.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> So far, there have been a number of significant changes under the plan: new research infrastructure such as the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies was built to support new programs, and application and enrollment numbers have increased.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> <ref name = "accomplished">Template:Cite web</ref> As Jared Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University explains, “Change at Rensselaer in the last five years has occurred with a scope and swiftness that may be without precedent in the recent history of American higher education.”<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

The need to attract greater research funds is paramount, with a goal of $100 million annually. As of 2006, research expenditures have reached $90 million per annum. The university recognizes the relatively small size of its endowment compared to its competition, as well as its relatively strong dependence on funds from undergraduate tuition to support its operations. To help raise money the university mounted a $1 billion capital campaign, of which the public phase began in the fall of 2004 and was expected to finish by 2008. In 2001, a major milestone of the campaign was the pledging of an unrestricted gift of $360 million by an anonymous donor, believed to be the largest such gift to a U.S. university at the time. The university had been a relative stranger to such generosity as the prior largest single gift was $15 million.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> By September 2006, the $1 billion goal has been exceeded much in part to a contribution commercially-valued at $514 million by the Partners for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering Education (PACE). In light of this, the board of trustees announced a new goal of $1.4 billion by June 30, 2009.


The number of faculty has been steadily growing since the implementation of the Rensselaer Plan in 1999.<ref name = "accomplished"/> Among them are members of the National Academies, a Nobel laureate, and 38 NSF Faculty Early Career Development Award winners.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> As of 2006 there are 400 full time and 81 part time faculty, yielding a student faculty ratio of 14:1.<ref name="facts"/> Well known faculty include:

RPI is also the professional home of David Musser, one of the primary persons behind the C++ Standard Template Library.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>


RPI ranks among the top 50 national universities in the United States according to US News & World Report. <ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The same source ranks RPI 24th for "Best Value" in undergraduate education.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> In 2005, the School of Engineering was ranked 18th in the nation for undergraduates, and 34th in the nation for graduates. Four of the graduate engineering programs are ranked in the top 20 (electrical engineering, materials science and engineering, industrial engineering and mechanical engineering), eight of 11 are ranked in the top 25, and all are ranked in the top 30 in the nation.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref name="rankings">Template:Cite web</ref>

The Lally School of Management and Technology’s entrepreneurship programs ranked 21 in the nation, and its technological entrepreneurship program was ranked sixth by Entrepreneur magazine.<ref name="rankings"/> RPI also has a strong and growing electronic arts program. For 2006, the master of Fine Arts multimedia/visual communications program was ranked eighth in the nation.<ref name="rankings"/>

Research and development

File:RPI CII Geometry.jpg
The Low Center and Darrin Communications Center

RPI has established six areas of research as institute priorities: biotechnology, energy security, information technology, nanotechnology, microelectronics, and modeling and simulation.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Advances in these fields have the potential to effect dramatic transformations in 21st century society.

RPI is home to the United States' first on-campus business incubator,<ref name = "first incubator"/> which has helped start over 180 companies in its lifetime, with a survival rate of about 80%.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> One of the largest companies to have originated in the incubator is MapInfo, a major publisher of mapping and geographic information systems software which is still headquartered in Troy, NY. Another incubator success is Vicarious Visions, a well known maker of video games. Off campus, there is the RPI Technology Park, which is home to over 50 technologically oriented companies. The 1,250 acre park is about 5 miles south of the campus along the Hudson River.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Park tenants collaborate with faculty and students on research projects and hire students for internships, co-ops, and employment.

Some notable research centers operated by RPI are the Terahertz Research Center,Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center, New York State Center for Polymer Synthesis, Darrin Fresh Water Institute, and the NASA center for Studies of the Origin of Life.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

RPI conducts nuclear research at the 60MeV Gaerttner Linear Accelerator (LINAC) Laboratory. The LINAC is used primarily for the testing of materials, but there is also ongoing research in neutron generation and other technologies. The lab made the news with discoveries regarding bubble fusion<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> and portable pyroelectric fusion devices.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Other important research facilities include the geotechnical centrifuge, used for civil engineering simulations, and RPI's array of six subsonic, supersonic and hypersonic wind tunnels.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

In May 2006, RPI announced a partnership with IBM and New York State to create the Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations, a supercomputing center to be used for nanotechnology research. When complete, the $100 million center will be the world’s most powerful university-based supercomputing center and one of the 10 largest supercomputing centers of any kind in the world.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>


File:Russell Sage Laboratory-RPI.JPG
Russell Sage Laboratory

RPI's 275-acre landscaped campus sits upon a hill overlooking historic Troy, New York and the Hudson River. The campus is bisected by 15th street, with most of the athletic and housing facilities to the east, and the academic buildings to the west. An iconic footbridge spans the street, linking the two halves. Much of the campus features a series of Colonial Revival style structures built in the first three decades of the 20th century. Overall, the campus has enjoyed four periods of expansion:<ref name = "buildings"/>

Climbing the Hill, 1824–1904

The school was originally located in downtown Troy, but gradually moved to the hilltop that overlooks the city. The severe conflagrations of August 1854 and that of May 1862, known as "the Great Fire" in the downtown region prompted the movement to the present site, as well as the potential for expansion that today's site offered. Few buildings from this time period remain.<ref name = "buildings"/> One building from this period that remains part of the RPI campus is the Winslow Chemical Laboratory, a building on the National Register of Historic Places. It is currently the home of the Social and Behavioral Research Laboratory.<ref>Social and Behavioral Research Laboratory Website</ref>

The Ricketts Campus, 1906–1935

President Palmer Ricketts supervised the construction of the school's "Green Rooftop" Colonial Revival buildings that give much of the campus a distinct architectural style. Buildings constructed during this period include the Carnegie Building (1906), Walker Laboratory (1907), Russell Sage Laboratory (1909), Pittsburgh Building (1912), Quadrangle Dormitories (1916–1927), Troy Building (1925), Amos Eaton Hall(1928), Greene Building (1931) and Ricketts Building (1935). Also built during this period was "The Approach" (1907), a massive ornate granite staircase found on the west end of campus. Although it is rarely used anymore, for many years it served as an important link between the city and the university.<ref>Institute Archives and Special Collections.History of The Approach (2003).</ref>

Post-War Expansion, 1946–1960

After World War II, the campus again underwent major expansion. Nine dormitories were built at the east edge of campus bordering Burdett Avenue, a location which came to be called "the Commons". The Houston Field House (1949) was reassembled, after being moved in pieces from its original Rhode Island location. West Hall, which was originally built in 1869 as a hospital, was acquired by the Institute in 1953. The ornate building is an example of French Second Empire architecture.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Another unique building is the Voorhees Computing Center (VCC). Originally built as St. Joseph’s Seminary chapel in 1933, it was once the institutes's library, until the completion of the Folsom Library in (1976).<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Interestingly, the new library, built adjacent to the computing center, was designed to match colors with the church, but is very dissimilar architecturally; it being an excellent example of the modern brutalist style – a style that has invited comparisons with a parking garage. The university was unsure of what to do with the church, or whether to keep it at all, but in 1979 the institute decided to preserve it and renovate it into a unique place for computer labs and facilities to support the institutes's computing initiatives.

Modern Campus, 1961–present

The modern campus features more modernly styled structures such as the Jonsson-Rowland Science Center (J-ROWL)(1961), Materials Research Center (MRC)(1965), Rensselaer Union (1967), Cogswell Laboratory (1971), Darrin Communications Center(DCC)(1973), Jonsson Engineering Center(JEC)(1977), Low Center for Industrial Innovation(CII) (1987), a public school building which was converted into Academy Hall (1990), and the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (2004).<ref name = "buildings"/> Although rarely used by students, a system of tunnels connects the Low Center, DCC, JEC, and Science Center. A tenth dormitory named Barton Hall was added to the Commons in August of 2000, featuring the largest rooms available for freshmen.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

The university is currently building the expansive Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) on the west edge of campus, which is slated to be finished in the summer of 2007. The building is being constructed on the precipice of the hill, with the main entrance on top. Upon entrance, futuristic walkways will lead into a 1,200 seat concert hall. Most of the building is encased in a glass exoskeleton, with an atrium-like space between it and the "inner building". Adjacent to and underneath the main auditorium there will also be a 400 seat theater, offices, and three studios with 40 to 60 foot ceilings.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Other Campuses


Hartford campus building.

RPI also runs a campus in Hartford, Connecticut, a distance learning center in Groton, Connecticut, and a navy-based nuclear training facility in Malta, New York. These centers are used by graduates and working professionals and are managed by the Hartford branch of RPI, Rensselaer at Hartford. At Hartford, graduate degrees are offered in Business Administration, Management, Computer Science, Computer and Systems Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Engineering Science, Mechanical Engineering, and Information Technology. There are also a number of certificate programs and skills training programs for working professionals.

Student body

"Six Random Lines Eccentric," a kinetic sculpture by former RPI professor George Rickey
RPI's "Quad" dormitory on the central campus

In the 2006–2007 academic year, RPI's enrollment included 5,142 resident undergraduate, 1,131 resident graduate, 707 graduate students on the Hartford campus, and 189 distance students. It attracts students from every state and 67 foreign countries.<ref name="facts">Template:Cite web</ref>

Statistics for the undergraduate class of 2010:<ref name="facts"/>

  • Percentage of valedictorians and salutatorians: 14%;
  • Percentage of students who were Rensselaer Medalists: 22%;
  • Percentage of students in top 10% of high school class: 62%;
  • Percentage of applicants accepted: 66%
  • Average SAT combined: 1322;
  • SAT 50th Percentile: 1220-1420;

Enrollment was small before the twentieth century and has grown steadily ever since then. Enrollment figures are as follows:

1825 10 students;
1850 53 students;
1900 225 students;
1910 650 students;<ref>1911 Encyclopædia Britannica</ref>
1925 1,240 students;
1945 1,604 students;
1950 3,987 students;(Note the jump in just five years, after the 1950s dormitory construction on "freshmen hill".)
1965 5,232 students;<ref name="railroad guide"/>
2006 6,386 students;

"The Ratio"

Coeducational since 1942, the university continues to struggle to attract a gender-balanced applicant pool. RPI has a male-to-female ratio of 3:1, which is among the highest among major American universities. This is an improvement though, over recent years, and with some exceptions continues to decrease. In the early 1990s the ratio was about 5:1, and farther back in the 1980s it reached as high as 8:1. It should be noted that this ratio, often cited as one of the greatest problems on campus, varies significantly between individual schools. For example, the School of Architecture is more than 50% female. However many programs in engineering, mathematics, and the physical sciences will turn out a ratio of around 7:1. One of the stated goals of the Rensselaer Plan is to "reflect the diversity of the global community" in the student body, which includes encouraging more women to enroll.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>


File:'86 Field RPI.JPEG
The Class of 1886 Field

The school features a competitive Division I ice hockey team, the Engineers, who won NCAA national titles in 1954 and 1985. The official nickname of some of the school's other Division III teams was changed in 1995 from the Engineers to the Red Hawks. (In addition to hockey, the football, cross-country, tennis, and track and field teams all chose to retain the Engineers name.) The "Red Hawks" name was, at the time, very unpopular among the student body; a "Red Hawk" mascot was frequently taunted with thrown concessions and chants of "kill the chicken!" In contrast, the official hockey mascot called the Puckman has always been very popular. Depending on how you define the rules, the RPI hockey team may have the longest winning streak on record for a division I team; in the 1984-85 season it went undefeated for 30 games, but one game was against the University of Toronto, a Canadian team. Continuing into the 1985-86 season, RPI continued undefeated over 38 games, including 2 wins over Toronto.<ref>RPI Hockey History FAQ</ref> One of the players during that time was Adam Oates, who went on to become a star NHL player.

The Hockey team plays a significant role in the campus' culture, drawing thousands of fans each week to the Houston Field House during the season. The team's popularity even sparked the tradition of the "hockey line", where students line up for season tickets months in advance of the on-sale date. Another tradition since 1978 has been the "Big Red Freakout" game held on the first weekend of February. Fans usually dress in the schools colors Red and White, and "gifts" such as tee-shirts are distributed en masse. In hockey the school's biggest rival has always been the upstate engineering school Clarkson University.

The Lacrosse team won the national championship in 1952.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The Lacrosse team also represented the United States in the 1948 Olympics in London. Ned Harkness coached the lacrosse and ice hockey teams, winning national championships in both sports.

As part of the Rensselaer Plan, the institute has undertaken a major project to improve its athletic facilities with the proposed East Campus Athletic Village. The plan outlines construction of a new and much larger 7,500 seat football stadium, a basketball arena with seating for 2,000, a new 50-meter pool, an indoor track and field complex, new tennis courts, new weight rooms and a new sports medicine center.<ref>East Campus Athletic Village Plan Retrieved 2007-02-13</ref> Construction is tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2007 and is expected to last two years. With the completion of the new stadium, the bleachers on the old 1886 football field on the central campus will be moved away and the field will become an open space. Members of the campus planning team foresee the field being turned into "a historic landscape with different paths and access ways for students and vehicles alike".<ref>"Master Plan Undergoes Public Review" The Polytechnic February 8, 2007</ref>

The oldest college football rivalry in the state is between RPI and Union College. The teams play for the Dutchman's Shoes.

Student life

Student Union

The students of RPI have created and participate in a variety of student-run clubs and organizations funded by the Student Union. The Union is unusual in that it is entirely student-run and its operations are paid for by activity fees. About 164 of these organizations are funded by the Student Union, while another thirty, which consist mostly of political and religious organizations, are self-supporting. It is a justifiable source of pride for the institute. In 2006, for instance, the Princeton Review ranked RPI second for "more to do on campus".<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> See the official listing of clubs and organizations for a full and up to date list.

Greek organizations are popular with about 30 social fraternities and 5 sororities. There are two coed fraternities, one of which is a social fraternity, Psi Upsilon, while the other, Alpha Phi Omega, is a service fraternity. As such, about a third of men are in fraternities and about a fifth of women are in sororities.

RPI has around twenty intramural sports organizations, many of which are broken down into different divisions based on level of play. Greek organizations compete in them as well as independents. There are also thirty-nine club sports. Given the university's proximity to the Berkshires, Green Mountains, and Adirondacks, the ski club is one of the largest groups on campus with weekly trips to local ski areas during the winter months.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

The Polytechnic is the student-run weekly school newspaper.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The Poly prints about 7000 copies each week, and distributes them around campus. Although it is the Union club with the largest budget, The Poly receives no subsidy from the Union, and obtains all funding through the sale of ads. There is also a student run magazine, Statler & Waldorf.

RPI has an improvisational comedy group, Sheer Idiocy, which performs several shows a semester.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> There are also several music groups ranging from a cappella groups such as the Rensselyrics, the Rusty Pipes and Partial Credit, to several instrumental groups such as the Orchestra, the Jazz Band, and a classical choral group, the Rensselaer Concert Choir.

Another notable organization on campus is WRPI, the campus radio station. WRPI differs from most college radio in that it serves a 75-mile radius including the greater Albany area. With 10 kW of broadcasting power, WRPI maintains a stronger signal than nearly all college radio stations and some commercial stations.

The RPI Playhouse

The RPI Players is an on-campus theater group which was formed in 1929. The Players resided in the Old Gym until 1965 when they moved to their present location at the 15th Street Lounge. This distinctive red shingled building had been a USO hall for the US Army before being purchased by RPI. The Players have staged over 250 productions in its history.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

RPI songs

Template:Main There are a number of songs commonly played and sung at various RPI events. Notable among them are:

  • The Alma Mater (Here's to Old RPI) - sung at formal events such as commencement and convocation, also played by the Pep Band at Hockey games.
  • Hail, Dear Old Rensselaer - the RPI fight song, played by the Pep Band during Hockey and Football games, especially when the teams score. (Most RPI students do not actually know the lyrics to this song).
  • All We've Learned at Rensselaer - sung at the RPI commencement ceremonies by the Rensselyrics.

First-Year Experience

Another notable aspect of student life at RPI is the first-year experience or FYE program. Freshman begin their stay at RPI with a week called "Navigating Rensselaer and Beyond" or NRB week. The Office of the First-Year Experience provides several programs that extend to not only freshman, but all students. These include family weekend, community service days, the Information and Personal Assistance Center (IPAC), and the Community Advocate Program.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Recently the FYE program was awarded the 2006 NASPA Excellence Gold Award, in the category of "Enrollment Management, Orientation, Parents, First-Year, Other-Year and related."<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Notable alumni


Several notable 19th century civil engineers graduated from RPI. These include the visionary of the transcontinental railroad, Theodore Judah, Brooklyn Bridge engineer Washington Roebling, George W. G. Ferris (for which the Ferris wheel is named), and Leffert L. Buck, the chief engineer of the Williamsburg Bridge in NYC.

Many RPI graduates have gone on to change the world with their inventions. Famous among these inventors are:

In addition to NVIDIA, RPI graduates have also gone on to found or co-found major companies such as John Wiley and Sons, Texas Instruments, Fairchild Semiconductor, MapInfo, Adelphia Communications, Level 3 Communications and Bugle Boy. Several RPI graduates have played a part in the US space program; graduate George Low was manager of NASA for the Apollo 11 project. Alumni astronauts include John L. Swigert Jr., Richard Mastracchio and space tourist Dennis Tito. There are also a few political figures from RPI, including federal judge Arthur J. Gajarsa, director of DARPA Tony Tether, MA-1 representative John Olver and Senators Mark Shepard(VA) and George R. Dennis(MD).

Other notable alumni include physics Nobel Prize winner Ivar Giaever ('64), physicist Robert Resnick, the president of the NCAA, Myles Brand, and director Bobby Farrelly.



External links



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

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