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 At Rensselaer—Making a Difference

A generic representation of nanoparticles (blue clusters) dispersed in a polymer matrix (green strands) designed by Rensselaer graduate student John Nugent, Marco Aimi '00, and Jeffrey Hines '00.

The U.S. government is making a $500 million investment in nanotechnology research and development in fiscal year 2001, an 84 percent increase from the prior year. The administration has made this major new initiative, the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), a top priority.

The emerging field of nanotechnology—the science of manipulating materials on an atomic or molecular scale—is leading to unprecedented understanding of the fundamental building blocks of all physical things. These developments are likely to change the way almost everything—from vaccines to computers to objects not yet imagined—is designed and made.

Rensselaer Professor Richard W. Siegel, the Robert W. Hunt Professor in Materials Science and Engineering, led a worldwide study, Nanostructure Science and Technology, that led to the creation of NNI. A prominent expert in the field of nanotechnology, Siegel is leading a major effort at Rensselaer to partner with corporations to study fundamental issues in nanotechnology. Already, the Institute has received cash and commitments of more than $1 million from the Eastman Kodak Company, ABB, Albany International Corporation, IBM Corporation, and Philip Morris USA.

Research emphasis will be on nanostructured materials that relate to the ultimate commercial interests of the partners—all world leaders in their respective sectors. A number of Rensselaer faculty members are lending their talents to this work.

Topics under study include:

  • Mechanical and electrical behavior of nanoparticle- and nanotube-filled polymer composites;
  • Biomedical applications of nanostructured materials;
  • Surface functionalization of nanostructures to improve their efficacy;
  • Processing of nanostructured intermetallic materials.
  • Each of the corporate partners shares in the results of this precompetitive research on a royalty-free, nonexclusive basis with Rensselaer. Corporate support also has been an important factor in leveraging significant government funding from the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, and the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center.

    Rensselaer welcomes new forward-thinking corporations to join this partnership. For more information, contact Professor Richard W. Siegel at or (518) 276-8846. For more information about NNI, go to


    Photo by Gary Gold

    In the lobby of the renovated Troy building stands Computer Lab 2015, one of a growing number of classrooms built to accommodate interactive learning with the latest in technology. What sets this classroom apart, however, is the wall surrounding it.

    Seven large windows, etched with historic Rensselaer icons—from the ironclad warship the Monitor to the integrated circuit—allow observers literally to look through Rensselaer's technological legacy toward the pedagogy that will produce tomorrow's innovators.

    Above the windows, one by one, Rensselaer has begun to inscribe the names of the most generous annual contributors to the Annual Fund. The newest additions include Rosa and William Mow '59 and Nancy S. Mueller—trustees and members of the Stephen Van Rensselaer Society of Patroons. They were honored with a "virtual unveiling" at the Patroon dinner in September.

    The Mows' names are inscribed above the window etched with the image of the Brooklyn Bridge, symbolizing the Mows' role in spanning the globe as emissaries for international relations for Rensselaer. Above the window portraying the Rensselaer seal and flag is the name of Glenn Mueller '64, a trustee and loyal alumni leader—placed there in honor of the gift of Trustee Nancy Mueller made in his memory.

    Last year, Rensselaer dedicated the first of the seven windows, depicting the creation of the integrated circuit at Texas Instruments, in honor of the company's former general director, Trustee Carl J. "Tommy" Thomsen '38. Two of the remaining four unnamed windows are depicted above. For more information, contact Lisa McGrath '89, director of the Rensselaer Annual Fund, at or (518) 276-2737.


    Rensselaer Alumni Magazine On-Line