More than 1,900 students will receive degrees from Rensselaer on Saturday, May 16, at 9:30 a.m. on the Harkness Field. They represent the next generation of leaders, scientists, entrepreneurs, patent holders, and innovators, in fields ranging from engineering to architecture, from fine arts to science, and from business to the military.
During the Institute’s 203rd Commencement ceremony, Rensselaer will award 621 master’s degrees, 166 doctoral degrees, and 1,147 bachelor’s degrees. Some graduates have earned more than one degree. All numbers cited are as of May 14, 2009, and are subject to change.
This issue of Inside Rensselaer features profiles of a few of this year’s graduates, as well as news and tidbits about other aspects of the ceremony.
A Global Community
In 2009, graduating students come from 40 states outside of New York state and 28 other nations including: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, Russian Federation, South Korea, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan, to name a few.
Making the Perfect Grade
A perfect 4.0 grade point average was earned by 16 of the students receiving bachelor’s degrees and 68 of the students receiving master’s or doctoral degrees from Rensselaer this year.
Taking the Podium
Acclaimed futurist and entrepreneur Peter Schwartz ’68 will deliver the Commencement address. Schwartz ’68, an internationally renowned futurist, business strategist, and author, is co-founder and chairman of Global Business Network.
Class President David Drew, a student who majored in biochemistry and biophysics, also will address the class. The Freeville, N.Y., native has “strived to be a force in the community,” while at Rensselaer and also in his hometown. He is a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, having served as the external vice president. Drew also created a new philanthropic event in which members of the fraternity and sisters of Alpha Gamma Delta would rock in sponsored rocking chairs for 36 straight hours. He is the recipient of the 2008 Frederick M. Nussbaum ’30 Memorial Award for Outstanding Volunteerism. Drew is also a member of Order of the Omega, the Greek Honor Society, and actively participates in intramural and intrafraternity sports. Following graduation, he will pursue his Ph.D. in biochemistry/biophysics at Rensselaer.
Hat’s off to you! This year five Rensselaer employees are graduating and 14 children of Rensselaer employees also are graduating.
Learning and Working in a Global Community
The popularity and taste for new and original fare made its way onto the Rensselaer campus in 2007. In an effort to please the palates of socially conscious students, faculty, staff, and members of the surrounding community during the semester, Terra Café has been dishing up a weekly selection of local and organic meals, desserts, and beverages. The brainchild of Ella Braco, a native of Binghamton, N.Y., the student-run café has its loyal customers. Braco and several students work with Jackie Baldwin, culinary director for Sodexho Campus Services, to develop the menu. Following graduation, the design, innovation, and society major will join the ranks of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) as a campus organizer. Braco says that she will be working with students to launch a variety of campaigns focused on fighting global warming, making higher education affordable, and increasing mass public transportation, among others.
Despite the demands of a rigorous academic schedule, many graduating students at Rensselaer have carved out time to communicate across cultural and social boundaries and lead in the global community at Rensselaer. Some of the members of the Class of 2009 are leaving the Institute having left their mark by creating opportunities for others to expand experiences and awareness of the campus and local community.
In an effort to offer members of the Rensselaer campus community an innovative alternative to advertising upcoming events, announcements, and other messages, a team of Rensselaer students created a Web-based digital signage system named Concerto. Founders Brian Zaik, a computer and systems engineering major, and August Fietkau, a dual major in computer science and management, noted the “high costs and often limited appeal of traditional paper signs and banners,” and that served as the motivation to provide the campus with a “campuswide communication system that was accessible, collaborative, and simple.” The soon-to-be graduates, along with team member Marc Ebuna, a dual major in information technology and psychology, plan to open source their software and make it available to students at other college campuses.
Continuing Academic Excellence
Many graduates will continue their studies after graduation. Among the schools that graduates will be attending are Albany Medical College, Albany Law School, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Oxford, Stanford, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, and, of course, Rensselaer.
All in the Family
The Rensselaer degree is well-known throughout the world as a symbol of technological excellence and achievement. Rensselaer alumni are leaders. They are collaborative, able, and smart. This year, 145 members of the Class of 2009 are Rensselaer “legacies,” students with relatives who attended the university.
Hot Jobs! Meet the Next Generation of Innovators
Preliminary results indicate that, despite the economic downturn, Rensselaer students in all areas of study, including management, humanities, social sciences, information technology, and engineering are still getting good jobs. Heading from the stage to offices and locations around the country, Rensselaer graduates will work for companies that include: American Airlines, BAE Systems, Cisco Systems, Consolidated Edison, Deloitte, ExxonMobil, GE, Lockheed Martin, NASA, National Instruments, Philips Healthcare, Raytheon, St. Jude Medical, United Technologies, Westinghouse Nuclear, and Xerox, to name a few.
“Today’s employers desire students who have had some experience while in college,” said Tom Tarantelli, director of the Career Development Center at Rensselaer. “This is what gives a student the competitive edge when it comes to landing a full-time job. Students should not be discouraged but ready to take advantage of opportunities when they become available. That is the nature of today’s market.”
Each year at Commencement, the graduating class presents the university with a gift. The Class of 2009 is excited to present a unique and spirited gift to the university, raising more than $3,000 to create a lounge space in the newly created area in the Rensselaer Union Game Room. The space will be called the ’09 Lounge. To date, 75 members of the class representing 8 percent of the class have donated to the project. In addition, 22 students became Patroons of Rensselaer with their gifts of $100 or more.
Awarding Excellence in Counseling
Lupita Montoya, assistant professor in the department of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering, has been selected as this year’s recipient of the David M. Darrin Counseling Award, which will be presented during the Commencement ceremony. The award was established by David M. Darrin ’40 to recognize a faculty member who has made an unusual contribution in the counseling of undergraduate students. The selection of the award recipient is made by Phalanx, Rensselaer’s student leadership honorary society.
Montoya was recognized for her inspiring and welcoming attitude, as well as her efforts in taking students to Peru in support of humanitarian engineering causes and advisement on graduate school selection. Her counseling of students through her involvement in several organizations, including Engineers for a Sustainable World, Alpha Omega Epsilon Sorority, the Society of Women Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and the Newman Catholic Fellowship, are examples of the depth of her commitment to counseling and enhancement of the student experience.
Student Service, Leadership, Scholarship Honored
At the May 14 Class of 2009 Zero Year Brunch and Awards Celebration, several graduating seniors were honored for their contributions to the Institute. The Willie Stanton Award, presented to the senior judged to have contributed the most in service to the student body, was awarded to Jordan Hagaman, a nuclear and mechanical engineering major from Belmar, N.J. The Livingston W. Houston Citizenship Award, honoring the “first citizen of the college,” ranking high in character, leadership, scholarship, and athletic ability, was awarded to Mathias Lange, a management major from Klagenfurt, Austria. The Leopold L. Balleisen Prize, honoring a senior student athlete who has won a varsity letter in at least one sport during two undergraduate years and who stands highest academically in the senior class, was awarded to Ashley Mayr, a management major from Burnaby, British Columbia.