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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

100 Years of Excellence: Celebrating a Century of Engineering Innovation

April 1, 2009

100 Years of Excellence: Celebrating a Century of Engineering Innovation

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this month is celebrating the centennial anniversary of the founding of two outstanding departments: electrical engineering and mechanical engineering.

The world-renowned departments, known for both the ingenuity of their researchers and quality of their students, will hold campus events to commemorate their 100-year histories and to look forward toward to another century of innovation and excellence.

The Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering (ESCE) will hold a seminar from 4-6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7, in the auditorium of the Rensselaer Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS). The Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering (MANE) will hold a symposium from 10-11:30 a.m. on Friday, April 24, also in the CBIS auditorium. Both the seminar and symposium are open to the public.

“In the first years of the 20th century, Rensselaer President Palmer C. Ricketts began the transformation of our Institute from a leading civil engineering college to a world-class engineering university, with the introduction of forward-looking departments of electrical and mechanical engineering,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “We continue to build upon the vision of President Ricketts, with an eye to the future and the intersection of engineering, nanotechnology, biotechnology, the arts, and information technology – the nexus of disciplines that will shape the 21st century, just as electrical and mechanical engineering shaped the 20th century.”

“In celebrating the centennial anniversary of electrical and mechanical engineering at Rensselaer, we are celebrating 100 years of outstanding faculty and staff, 10 decades of talented students, and 36,525 days of noteworthy alumni achievements,” said Timothy Wei, acting dean of the university’s School of Engineering. “Rensselaer is known for – and will continue to be known for – educating the ‘engineer of tomorrow,’ and graduating leaders who are ready to guide the search for solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Electrical and mechanical engineering alumni from Rensselaer have become inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs, academics, and leaders of renown. A timeline of many of the most notable alumni from the two departments, and how their accomplishments have changed the world, is featured in the most recent issue of School of Engineering News.

Electrical Engineering

Since its creation, Rensselaer’s Department of Electrical Engineering has grown to include computer and systems engineering. Graduates of the department include the founder of the television industry, the co-inventor of the chip at the heart of every computer, a storied leader of IBM, the judge whose decision paved the way for generic drugs, and other visionary leaders and researchers.

“ECSE is extremely proud of its heritage of excellence in education and research,  from Allen DuMont's cathode ray tube to our current world-class program in three dimensional integrated circuits,” said Kim Boyer, professor and department head of ECSE. “Through these accomplishments and so many others, ECSE faculty and alumni have consistently broken new ground in the pursuit of engineering solutions to societal problems."

The ECSE  seminar on April 7 is titled “Penguins, Pirates and Polytechnics: Video Games and the Future of Technical Education,” and will feature a discussion on what can be learned from today's video games and virtual worlds to better prepare engineers for the next century. The noted speaker is entrepreneur and three-time ECSE alumna Tobi Saulnier ’95, founder of video game developer 1st Playable Productions.

The seminar will also feature a student poster display, a celebration reception, and a demonstration of Rensselaer’s Smart Blimp technology.

Visit www.ecse.rpi.edu/ecse100 for more information or to RSVP for the seminar, or to watch the seminar live via webcast.

Mechanical Engineering

Founded as the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the department has expanded to include aerospace and nuclear engineering. Department graduates include a NASA astronaut, a Texas Instruments leader and mayor of Dallas, the first woman to head the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the current director of GE Global Research, among other history makers.

“We are in the midst of a semester of celebration culminating in daylong festivities to honor the accomplishments of our students, alumni, and faculty,” said Achille Messac, professor and acting head of MANE.  “We will continue our phenomenal growth as we enter our second century with excitement and optimism.”

The MANE symposium on April 24 is titled “Transformations in Mechanical Engineering,” and will feature several prominent MANE alumni including:

  • John D. Dulchinos ’84 | President and CEO, Adept Technology Inc.
  • Nancy Fitzroy ’49 | First woman president of American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • Mark I. Goldhammer ’71 | Chief Engineer for Airplane Performance in Product Development, Boeing Commercial Airplanes
  • Fred Ling  | University of Texas-Austin
  • Mark Little '82 | Senior Vice President and Director, GE Global Research
  • Robert G. Loewy ’47 | Georgia Institute of Technology, Professor
  • Van C. Mow ’62 | Columbia University, Professor
  • Sheldon Weinbaum ’59 | City University of New York, Professor

As part of the celebration, MANE will host a party with live music from noon to 3 p.m. on the ’86 Field, including a rare live performance of Commander Cody featuring original band members Andy Stein and Rensselaer professor John Tichy. Also performing will be recording artists Ian & the Aztecs, along with Rensselaer’s own The Rhondies. The party will also feature games that recreate student activities and events that took place on campus over the past century.

Visit www.eng.rpi.edu/me100 for more information or watch the symposium live via webcast.

Contact: Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161
E-mail: mullam@rpi.edu