Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Infobox University
name = Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

motto = Knowledge and Thoroughness
established = 1824
type = Private
president = Shirley Ann Jackson
provost = Robert Palazzo [cite web|url=|title=Robert Palazzo Appointed Provost of Rensselaer|author=|date=June 28, 2007|accessdate=2007-08-16]
city = flagicon|USA Troy
state = New York
country = USA
undergrad = 5,167 cite web |url= |title=Common Data Set 2007-2008 |accessdate=2008-09-07 |publisher= |date= ]
postgrad = 1,176 Troy
729 Hartford Part-time
187 Distance Part-time
faculty = 491
campus = Urban, convert|275|acre|km2
free_label = Athletics
free = 23 varsity teams
2 Division I
21 Division III
mascot = The Red Hawk and Puckman
website = []
endowment = US $813 millioncite web|title="Institutional Transformation: The Renaissance at Rensselaer Continues"|year=2007|url=|author="Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson"|accessdate=2007-10-11]
colors = Cherry and White color box|#ED1C2Ecolor box|#ffffff

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, or RPI, is a nonsectarian private research university located in Troy, New York. RPI 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.cite web|title=RPI History Main Page |url=|accessdate=2007-01-21] The institute is known for its success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace. [cite web|url=|title=Rensselaer in Brief|date=2008|accessdate=2008-05-22]

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." [cite web|url=|title=Rensselaer Catalog 1997 : Mission Statement|accessdate=2007-01-26|year=1996]



Stephen Van Rensselaer established the Rensselaer School November 5, 1824 with a letter to the Rev. Dr. Samuel Blatchford, in which van Rensselaer asked Blatchford 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 and 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, 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.citeweb|url=
title=RPI Building Histories|date=|accessdate=2007-01-21|author=Institute Archives and Special Collections
] 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 resemblance of a graduate school than of a college. It drew graduates of older institutions such as Amherst, Bowdoin, Columbia, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, Union, Wesleyan, Williams, and Yale. 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. [ [ "The blacksmith's motor"] "Mechanical Engineering Magazine Online". July 1999. Retrieved on 2007-02-11]

In 1847, alumnus Benjamin Franklin Greene became the new senior professor. Earlier he had done a thorough 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.cite web|url=|title=Timeline of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute History 1999|accessdate=2007-01-21] In 1861 the name was changed to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.cite web|url=|title=NEB&W Guide to the History of RPI |accessdate=]


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. [cite web|url=,pc.html|title=RPI Biography of Palmer Ricketts|accessdate=2007-01-21] 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 II. 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". [cite web
title="Tin Town" on Rensselaer Building Histories site|year=
] 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, [cite web
title=History of RPI's Gaerttner Linear Accelerator
] 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.cite web
title=Academia Linking With Industry: the RPI model|year=1989|url=
] 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.cite web
title= RPI's Incubator Program History|url=|accessdate=
] Shortly after this, RPI decided to invest $3 million in pavement, water and power on around convert|1200|acre|km2 of land it owned convert|5|mi|km south of campus. 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 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 universities to implement a mandatory laptop program. Many saw the program as unnecessary, costly, and rushed into practice too quickly by the administration. [ [ Hot Technologies on Every Pillow] (2003) Research article on RPI's "laptop initiative"] However, the program has persisted, and remains an integral part of life at RPI, with many courses requiring that a student bring their laptop to class. 1999 also saw the arrival of President Shirley Ann Jackson. A graduate of MIT, Dr. Jackson had held physics research positions at Bell Labs and Rutgers University, and had most recently served as chairperson for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She brought with her "The Rensselaer Plan" (discussed below), an ambitious plan to revitalize the institute. Many advances have been made under the plan, and Jackson has enjoyed the ongoing support of the RPI Board of Trustees. However, her leadership style may not sit well with many faculty; on April 26, 2006, RPI faculty voted 155 to 149 against a vote of no-confidence in Jackson. [ [ No-Confidence Motion Fails at Rensselaer Polytechnic] "The Chronicle of Higher Education".] In August 2007, Jackson's administration disbanded the faculty senate and called for a full review of faculty governance, prompting a strong reaction from the Rensselaer community, including faculty petitions against the measure and a faculty hosted "teach in". [cite web|url=|title="Faculty Governance Review"|year=2007|accessdate=2007-12-02] [cite web|url=|author="Times Union"|title="RPI professors stage '60s-style teach-in"|year=2007|accessdate=2007-12-02]

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.” [ [ RPI Facts] (2006) (See quotes on left sidebar)]


* 1824 - The institute is founded and eventually becomes the first continually existing technological university in the English-speaking world.
* 1835 - The institute awarded the first civil engineering degree in the United States. [ 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] ]
* 1864 - The Alpha (first national) chapter of Theta Xi fraternity opens at RPI.cite web|url=|title=Founding of Theta Xi|accessdate=2008-05-26]
* 1898 - The first association of Latin American students in the United States was formed at RPI, called the Union Hispano-Americana.cite book | last=Ricketts | first=Palmer C. | coauthors= | year=1934 | title=A History of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1824-1934 | publisher=Wiley Publishing Company | location=New York, New York | id= | page= ] 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.cite book | last=Anson | first=Jack L. | coauthors=Robert F. Marchesani, Jr. | year=1991 | title=Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities | publisher=Banta Publishing Company | location=Menasha, Wisconsin | id=ISBN 0-9637159-0-9 | page=VIII-22 ]
* 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. [cite web|url=|title=History of the Pittsburgh Building|accessdate=2007-01-21]
* 1980 - The institute founds the first business incubator wholly sponsored and operated by a university.
* 2007 - The institute is possibly the first university to start an undergraduate major in Video Game Design. [cite web|url=|title=Game Design by Degree|year=2005|author=Rensselaer Alumni Magazine|accessdate=2007-01-26 (More information is available at )] [cite web|url=|title=Early in the game: RPI creates video game major|last=D'Errico|first=Richard A.|date=2005-09-02|publisher=The Business Review|accessdate=2008-07-31]


RPI's convert|275|acre|ha|sing=on landscaped campus sits upon a hill overlooking historic Troy, New York and the Hudson River. The surrounding area is mostly residential neighborhoods, with the city of Troy lying at the base of the hill. 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:

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 in the downtown region of August 1854 and of May 1862, known as "the Great Fire", and fire again in 1904 seriously threatened the future of the young institute. Columbia University proposed that Rensselaer leave Troy altogether and merge with its New York City campus. Ultimately, the proposal was rejected and the campus left the crowded downtown for the hillside which offered potential for expansion. Few buildings from this time period remain. One of the only buildings still on the RPI campus is the Winslow Chemical Laboratory, a building on the National Register of Historic Places. Located at the base of the hill on the western edge of campus, it is currently the home of the Social and Behavioral Research Laboratory. [ [ Social and Behavioral Research Laboratory Website] ]

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. Originally linking RPI to the Troy Union Railroad station, it again serves as an important link between the city and the university. [cite web
url=|title=History of The Approach|date=|accessdate=2008-02-21|author=Institute Archives and Special Collections|year=2003

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 "Freshman Hill." 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. [cite web
url=|title=RPI Building Histories : West Hall|date=|accessdate=2007-01-21|author=Institute Archives and Special Collections
] Another unique building is the Voorhees Computing Center (VCC). Originally built as St. Joseph’s Seminary chapel in 1933, it was once the institute's library, until the completion of the Folsom Library in (1976). [cite web
url=|title=RPI Building Histories : Chapel/Voorhees Computing Center |date=|accessdate=2007-01-21|author=Institute Archives and Special Collections
] 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 institute'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). 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 Freshman Hill in August 2000, featuring the largest rooms available for freshmen. [cite web|url=|date=2006|accessdate=2007-02-27|title=Barton Hall Profile|author=RPI]

On October 4, 2008, the university celebrated the grand opening of the expansive Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) situated on the west edge of campus. [cite web|url=|title=EMPAC on schedule to open October 2008 |year=2007|accessdate=2007-11-09|author = "The Polytechnic"] The building was constructed on the precipice of the hill, with the main entrance on top. Upon entrance, futuristic walkways 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 is also a 400 seat theater, offices, and three studios with convert|40|ft|m|sing=on to convert|60|ft|m|sing=on ceilings. [cite web
url=|title=EMPAC Mission|date=2007|accessdate=2007-01-21|author=
] In October 2007, tentative plans were announced for a major addition to the Jonsson-Rowland Science Center, which would add 100,000 to 120,000 square feet of lab space. Although final designs have not been announced, the plan is to build an adjacent building in a fashion similar to the Biotechnology center, with the second inner L-shaped building being built adjacent to the Science Center, with a glass-enclosed atrium between the two. And like the biotechnology center, the new addition will house most of the lab facilities, and the older building will house mostly classrooms and offices.

Other Campuses

RPI also runs a convert|15|acre|ha|sing=on 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.


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." [ [ 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]

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. [cite web |title=New Ivies Ranking
] Nationally, RPI is a member of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) and the NAICU's University and College Accountability Network (U-CAN).

The Rensselaer Plan

With the arrival 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. [cite web|title=The Rensselaer Plan
] 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. [cite web|title=Funding Campaign at a glance|year=2005|url=|accessdate=2007-01-21] So far, there have been a number of changes under the plan: new infrastructure such as the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies and CCNI was built to support new programs, and application numbers have increased.cite web|title=Accomplishments of Rensselaer Plan|year=2006|url=|accessdate=2007-01-21] In fact, in the three years between 2005 and 2008 application numbers doubled from 5,500 to 11,000. [cite web
title=At Rensselaer, Freshman Applications Jump 100 Percent in Three Years
author=RPI Press Release
] According to Jared Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University “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.” [cite web
title="Board of Trustees Enthusiastically Endorses Leadership and Presidency of Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson"|year=2006|url=|accessdate=
] Although the number of doctoral students has increased, the plan has failed to increase the number of graduates, a fact which may be due to poor tuition planning.Fact|date=October 2007 The number of graduates on the Troy campus has dropped from a high of 2617 in 1999 to 1228 in 2007, a decrease of more than 50%. [IRS Tax Form 990, available in public records. See also "Students at a Glance".(1999) [] and "RPI Quick Facts and Figures" [ (2007)] These pages show a decrease from 1839 in 1999 to 1228 in 2007, a decrease of 36% (Hartford students were not included in the 1999 figure).]

The ability to attract greater research funds is needed to meet the goals of the plan, and the university has set 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 (cf. Case Western Reserve U., University of Rochester, etc.), 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 September 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. [cite web|title=" For Rensselaer Polytechnic, a Record-Setting Gift With No Strings Attached"|year=2001|url=|accessdate=2007-03-08] By September 2006, the $1 billion goal has been exceeded much in part to an in-kind contribution of software commercially-valued at $513.95 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 new goal was met by October 1, 2008. [ [ Historic Rensselaer Capital Campaign Reaches Goal Nine Months Ahead of Schedule] ]


The number of faculty has been steadily growing since the implementation of the Rensselaer Plan in 1999. Among them are members of the National Academies, a Nobel laureate, and 40 NSF Faculty Early Career Development Award winners. [cite web|url=|title=Faculty with NSF awards and their research|accessdate=2007-06-17] As of 2006 there are 400 full time and 81 part time faculty, yielding a student faculty ratio of 14:1. Well-known faculty include:

* Selmer Bringsjord - artificial intelligence researcher
* Jonathan Dordick - leader of a group doing biochemical engineering
* Ivar Giaever ('64) - Nobel Laureate 1973 and physics professor emeritus
* James Hendler - computer scientist and author
* David Musser - one of the primary persons behind the C++ Standard Template Library [cite web|url=|title=David Musser's profile at RPI|year=|accessdate=2007-01-21]
* Leik Myrabo - known for designing and testing laser "lightcraft" propulsion systems
* Pauline Oliveros - musician and composer of electronic art music
* Neil Rolnick - former head of the Arts Department, and founder of iEAR studios
* Michael Shur- well-published solid state electronics researcher
* Boleslaw Szymanski - head of the Center for Pervasive Computing and Networking
* Xi-Cheng Zhang - head of the Center for Terahertz Research


RPI ranks among the top 50 national universities in the United States according to "US News & World Report". [cite web|title=America's Best Colleges 2009|author=US News
] The same source ranks RPI 24th for "Best Value" in undergraduate education. [cite web
title=Polytechnic article on financial statistics aids|year=2006|url=
] 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), seven of 11 are ranked in the top 25, and all are ranked in the top 40 in the nation. "U.S. News" also put the graduate applied mathematics program at 20th. [cite web|title=Graduate Rankings Summary|year=2006|url=|accessdate=|] cite web|title=U.S. News & World Report guide to “America’s Best Graduate Schools”|year=2006|url=|accessdate=|]

The Lally School of Management and Technology’s entrepreneurship programs ranked 21st in the nation, and its technological entrepreneurship program was ranked sixth by "Entrepreneur Magazine". The Lally School's corporate strategy program was ranked first in the nation by "BusinessWeek" magazine.cite web|title=Undergraduate Specialty Program Rankings"|year=2008|url=|accessdate=|]

The Electronic Arts program is one of the highest ranked departments at RPI. For four years in a row "U.S. News" ranked the [ iEAR program] 8th in the nation: 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006.

Research and development

RPI has established six areas of research as institute priorities: biotechnology, energy and the environment, nanotechnology, computation and information technology, and media and the arts. [cite web|url=|title=Research Priorities|accessdate=2008-01-26] 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, which has helped start over 180 companies in its lifetime, with a survival rate of about 80%. [cite web|title=Incubator Statistics|year=2006|url=|accessdate=|] 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. Others incubator success stories include Vicarious Visions, a well known maker of video games, and CORESense, Inc., a leading provider of multi-channel retail software. RPI operates the Rensselaer Technology Park, which is home to over 50 technologically oriented companies. The convert|1250|acre|km2|sing=on park is about convert|5|mi|km south of the campus along the Hudson River. [cite web|url=|title=Information About the RPI Tech Park|accessdate=2007-01-21] 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, Center for Automation Technologies and Systems, and the Lighting Research Center. [cite web|url=|author=|title=" List of Research Centers"|accessdate=2007-02-17] The Lighting Research Center (LRC) is the leading university-based research center devoted to lighting, offering the world's only M.S. degree in lighting. Since 1988 it has built an international reputation as a reliable source for objective information about lighting technologies, applications, and products. The LRC provides training programs for government agencies, utilities, contractors, lighting designers, and other lighting professionals.

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 [cite web|url=|author="Science Daily"|title="Using Sound Waves To Induce Nuclear Fusion With No External Neutron Source"|year=2006|accessdate=2007-01-21] and portable pyroelectric fusion devices. [cite web|url=|author=""|title="Tabletop nuclear fusion device developed"|year=2006|accessdate=2007-01-21] 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. [cite web|url=|title=RPI's Aero Lab Wind Tunnels|accessdate=2007-01-21]

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. As of June 2008, the $100 million center is North America's most powerful university-based supercomputing center and the 22nd most powerful supercomputing center of any kind in the world. [cite web|url=||title="TOP500 List - June 2008"|accessdate=2008-06-19]

tudent body

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.cite web|url=|title=RPI Facts|year=2006|author = "The Polytechnic"
] It attracts students from every state and 92 foreign countries. [cite web|url=|title=Accepted students visit RPI|year=2007 Facts|accessdate=2007-08-02]

Statistics for the undergraduate class of 2011

*Percentage of students in top 10% of high school class: 64%
*Percentage of students who were Rensselaer Medalists: 21%
*Percentage of applicants accepted: 49%cite web|url=|title=Class of 2011 reaches new heights for RPI|author = "The Polytechnic"|year=2007|accessdate=2007-08-02 (For a discussion of how the acceptance rate has fallen in past years, see [ this article] )]
*SAT 25th-75th Percentiles: 1250-1420

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 [1911 Encyclopædia Britannica] :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: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,cite web|url =|title = Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute - Common Data Set 2006-2007|accessdate = 2007-07-17|year = 2007|format = PDF] which is among the highest among major American universities. [cite web|url =|title =Ranking of American Universities by Their Male/Female Ratios|accessdate=2008-01-26|year=2006|] This is an improvement over previous years, and with some exceptions the ratio continues to decrease. In 1966 it was 19:1, in the 1980s it reached as high as 8:1, and in the early 1990s the ratio was around 5:1. Both the class of 2011 and the class of 2012 have a ratio of about 2:1, or 31% female, and the Admissions Office hopes to gradually improve on this figure in years to come.

It should be noted that the male-to-female ratio varies significantly between individual schools. For example, the School of Architecture is more than 50% female.Fact|date=October 2007 However many programs in engineering, mathematics, and the physical sciences have a ratio of around 7:1.Fact|date=October 2007 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. [cite web|url=|title=Point 2 of The Rensselaer Plan|accessdate=2007-01-21]


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 Division III teams was changed in 1995 from the Engineers to the Red Hawks. However the hockey, 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 known as The Puckman has always been very popular. The Puckman is an anthropomorphic hockey puck with an engineer's helmet.

Depending on how the rules are interpreted, 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 two wins over Toronto. [ [ RPI Hockey History FAQ] ] Adam Oates, a player during that time, went on to become a star in the NHL. Joe Juneau, who played from 1987 to 1991, also spent many years in the NHL.

The hockey team plays a significant role in the campus's 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 close to 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. [cite web|url=|title=Timeline of RPI History-1959|accessdate=2007-01-21] 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.

The Redhawk baseball squad is perennially atop the rankings of the Liberty League, winning it in 2008 with the help of Liberty League Pitcher of the year Joe Zongol. The team is coached by ex-New York Yankee Karl Steffen (Ithaca '78) with Steve "Smoke" Allard (Massachusetts '87) as Assistant Coach. The Redhawks play their home games at the Robinson Field.

Since 1903 RPI and nearby Union College have been rivals in football, making it the oldest such rivalry in the state. The teams play for the Dutchman's Shoes. Led by Jared Blais the 2008 Engineers look to compete for a National Championship. As defending Liberty League Champions they have the target on their back but Blais seems poised to have a breakout season and lead them to the NCAA playoffs once again.

As part of the Rensselaer Plan, the institute has undertaken a major project to improve its athletic facilities with the East Campus Athletic Village. The plan outlines construction of a new and much larger 4,842 seat football stadium, a basketball arena with seating for 1,200, a new 50-meter pool, an indoor track and field complex, new tennis courts, new weight rooms and a new sports medicine center. [ [ East Campus Athletic Village Plan] Retrieved 2007-02-13] The institute broke ground on August 26, 2007 and construction of the first phase is expected to last two years. [ [ Rensselaer Breaks Ground for East Campus Athletic Village; First Phase to be Completed by Fall 2009] ] With the completion of the new stadium, the bleachers on the Class of '86 football field on the central campus will be removed and the field will become an open space. In the future the new space could be used for expansions of the academic buildings, but for now members of the campus planning team foresee a "historic landscape with different paths and access ways for students and vehicles alike". [cite web|url=|author="The Polytechnic"|title="Master Plan Undergoes Public Review"|year=2006|date=2-8-2007|accessdate=2007-12-02]

tudent life

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 170 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." [cite web|author=RPI press release|title="Princeton Review ranks RPI 2nd for "Most to do on Campus"|year=2006|url=
] See the [ official listing of clubs and organizations] for a full and up to date list.

Phalanx is RPI's Senior Honor Society. [cite web|url=|title=Phalanx|accessdate=2007-10-09] It was founded in 1912, when Edward Dion and the Student Council organized a society to recognize those RPI students who have distinguished themselves among their peers in the areas of leadership, service, and devotion to the alma mater. It is a fellowship of the most active in student activities, and since its founding over 1300 members have been inducted. [cite web|url=|title=Phalanx Members|accessdate=2007-10-09]

Greek organizations are popular with about 30 social fraternities and 5 sororities. There are three coed fraternities, two of which are social fraternities, the Rensselaer Society of Engineers and 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. [cite web|url=|title=Ski Club website|accessdate=]

"The Rensselaer Polytechnic" is the student-run weekly school newspaper. [cite web|url=|title="The Polytechnic" Homepage|accessdate=2007-01-21] "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 popular student run magazine called "Statler & Waldorf".cite web|url=|title=Statler & Waldorf|accessdate=2008-05-26]

RPI has an improvisational comedy group, Sheer Idiocy, which performs several shows a semester [cite web|url=|title=Sheer Idiocy Homepage|accessdate=2007-01-21] , as well as a sketch comedy troupe, Experimental Error. 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 convert|75|mi|km|sing=on 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. WRPI currently broadcasts on 91.5 FM in the Albany area.

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 260 productions in its history. [cite web|url=|title=RPI Players History|accessdate=2007-01-21]

RPI songs

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 and sung by the Pep Band at hockey and football games. It was published in the first book of "Songs of Rensselaer" printed in 1913.
* "Hail, Dear Old Rensselaer" - used to be the fight song during the 1960s. It is still played today by the Pep Band at athletic events.
* "All We've Learned at Rensselaer" - sung at the RPI commencement ceremonies by the Rensselyrics. Although the Rensselyrics are an a cappella group, this song is accompanied by piano. Each verse or section has a different musical style, several of which are closely based on Billy Joel songs or other popular music.

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 to all students. These include family weekend, community service days, the Information and Personal Assistance Center (IPAC), and the Community Advocate Program. [cite web|url=|title=About FYE|accessdate=2007-02-23] 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." [cite web|url=|title=Rensselaer's First-Year Experience Program Recognized Among the Best in the Country|accessdate=2007-02-23]

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 (who built the first Ferris wheel) 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:

*James Henry Salisbury (1844), inventor of the Salisbury steak
*Allen B. Dumont (1924), creator of the first commercial television
*Keith D. Millis (1938), inventor of ductile iron
*Marcian Hoff (1958), father of the microprocessor
*Raymond Tomlinson (1963), often credited with the invention of e-mail
*Curtis Priem (1982), designer of the first video graphics processor and co-founder of NVIDIA

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, PSINet, MapInfo, Adelphia Communications, Level 3 Communications, Garmin, 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 and served as president of RPI. Alumni astronauts include John L. Swigert Jr., Richard Mastracchio and space tourist Dennis Tito. There are also several political figures from RPI, including federal judge Arthur J. Gajarsa, director of DARPA Tony Tether, MA-1 representative John Olver and Senators Mark Shepard(VT) and George R. Dennis(MD). Notable hockey players include two-time Calder Cup winner Neil Little (1994), Joé Juneau (1991) and Adam Oates (1985).

Other notable alumni include physics Nobel Prize winner Ivar Giaever (1964); director of Linux International Jon Hall (1977); president of the NCAA Myles Brand (1964); adult stem cell pioneer James Fallon; and director Bobby Farrelly.


External links

* [ Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute]
* Palmer C. Ricketts " [ History of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1824-1914] " (New York : J. Wiley and Sons, 1914)
* [ RPI Student Union]
* [ Institute Archives and Special Collections]
* [ Not the Rensselaer Wiki]
* [ A Postcard History of RPI]

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