Inside Rensselaer
Volume 7, No. 3, February 15, 2013
   
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Photos by Daesha Harris and Jahvtz Blanton

Focus

Black Family Technology Awareness Day

15th annual event celebrates science, technology, engineering,
mathematics, and the arts

Earlier this month, nearly 1,000 students, families, teachers, and community organizations attended the 15th annual Black Family Technology Awareness Day program on Feb. 2.

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The annual event, hosted by the Office of the Provost and part of a nationally celebrated week of the same name, is designed to spur interest in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), and the arts. The opening ceremony featured remarks from Congressman Paul Tonko and President Shirley Ann Jackson, who noted that the connections among music, the arts, and the STEM fields go back thousands of years.

“Mathematics was used in the design of ancient cathedrals, oriental rugs, mosaics, and sculptures,” said President Jackson. “Likewise, mathematics—concepts like fractions, ratios, symmetry, and pattern—are all at the core of the music we listen to. How many of you like hip-hop? Well, it is the repetition and the rhythms—in other words, the beat, and the math behind it—that, in part, makes it so appealing.”

She also addressed the Rensselaer connections between the arts and technology. “We know that great discoveries often are made when scientists and artists can share ideas and collaborate. That is why we built EMPAC, our Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, where the arts, sciences, media, and technology interact and influence each other. It is why Rensselaer, a technological research university, also has a school of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. And it is why we have interdisciplinary programs, such as Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences that cross boundaries between the arts, the social sciences, and IT and engineering.”

My best advice is to not let others define who you are, or to place any limits on what you think you can become.
Let your imagination soar.
Allow what you learn here today to give you the fuel to help your dreams take flight.”—President Jackson

The opening ceremony also provided attendees with an opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of Deborah Nazon. Nazon received both her master’s degree and Ph.D. from Rensselaer, and also worked at the Institute in many capacities, including serving as assistant provost for the Office of Institute Diversity. Nazon was instrumental in helping to launch the Black Family Technology Awareness Day event at Rensselaer.

The event featured more than 60 workshop interactive discussion sessions and hands-on activities led by Rensselaer professors, students, staff, alumni/alumnae, several area businesses, and local community organizations.

President Jackson offered some advice to the many students in attendance. “Remember that within each of you are many different talents—perhaps for science and technology, for engineering and math, as well as for music and the arts. You need not pick one field over the other. That is what we emphasize to our students here at Rensselaer,” President Jackson said. “My best advice is to not let others define who you are, or to place any limits on what you think you can become. Let your imagination soar. Allow what you learn here today to give you the fuel to help your dreams take flight.”

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 7, Number 3, February 15, 2013
©2013 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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