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 Class Notes Features


James Hoffman '28, who has been president of his class for 72 years, celebrated his 96th birthday in April by climbing the 154-step Approach. He compiled the following additional data about his ascent of the newly renovated granite stairway: height of each step: 7 inches; lateral/horizontal distance: 500 feet; vertical distance: 90 feet, equivalent to a 10-story building; energy expended: 140,000 foot pounds; time to complete the climb, with stops to check his pulse: 10 minutes.

At the top he proclaimed: "My pulse is normal. I have no pain."

As a student, Hoffman had commuted to Rensselaer from his home in Lansingburgh by bus--which dropped him at the foot of the Approach.

"From 1924 to 1928, my college days, I figure I walked up and down the Approach about 3,000 times," he said.

Hoffman, a former New York state professional engineer and legal land surveyor, founded Hoffman Consulting Engineers in 1945 after serving seven years in World War II. He is also a professional musician and plays violin, viola, tuba, string bass, and piano.

Hoffman made the birthday climb to pay tribute to his beloved alma mater, he told a Times Union reporter who documented his feat.

"I'd be nothing without RPI," he said. "They carried me over when I didn't have the money. They did everything to make an engineer of me and I haven't forgotten."

Hoffman was accompanied by his son Conrad Hoffman '58. His son James Hoffman Jr. also graduated from Rensselaer, in 1954.



The annual 50 Year Club Florida luncheon was a big success this year with 56 attendees, thanks in large part to the efforts of Charlie Horsfall '44 and Frank Devine '43 and their telephone committee.

Sorry to note that Bill Shuster '39, longtime secretary of the 50 Year Club, is in the Eddy Geriatric Center in Troy. I am sure he would appreciate getting a note or a card from you. His address is Eddy Memorial Geriatric Center, 2256 Burdett Ave., Troy, NY 12180.

An organizing meeting was held March 9 to set up the programs for the Hudson-Mohawk Retirees Club for the spring and fall. Six interesting manufacturing facilities are under consideration including the largest button manufacturer in the country. If you live in the Capital Region and are retired or otherwise available for daytime programs and would like to attend these tours and lunches, or if you would like help in setting up such an organization in your area for retired alumni, call Paul Witbeck at (518) 785-8354.--PW



Bob Wells '40 poured his heart and soul--and 18 months of dogged determination--into a project, of his own conception and design, to capture for posterity the career accomplishments of Rensselaer's first aeronautical engineers.

The result is a two-volume, 623-page book titled Aero Engineers: Saga of Members, Classes 1937-1944, which Wells presented to the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering, and Mechanics (MEAEM) at a luncheon following the annual Hemke Lecture April 14.

"We were the first nine classes of RPI aeronautical engineers who jumped out of the Depression, into the preparation for the first Air War. We all had a part in one of the big spurts in an industrial revolution," writes Wells in the book's forward.

Included are 113 career histories that Wells collected from alumni and their family members, then edited and compiled into the book. He also included mechanical, electrical, and chemical engineers who contributed to the industry, as well as three Curtiss-Wright Cadettes--women who completed a 10-month course at Rensselaer in 1943 and went on to work at the Curtiss-Wright propeller plant during the War.

These alumni, writes Wells, "made indelible strides in aircraft, accessories, appendages, controls, guidance systems, add-ons, connections, both within and without, their fuels, oils, finishes, and lots of new areas which multiplied and continue to explode in all directions, even serendipity."

The book is dedicated to Paul E. Hemke, who was head of the Department of Aeronautical Engineering at Rensselaer from its inception in 1935 until his promotion to dean of faculty in 1954.

"All of these guys came under the influence of Dr. Hemke," says Wells. "This project is dedicated to what he and his department did to prepare us."

This year Robert Loewy '47 delivered the 18th Hemke Lecture at Rensselaer. He was the fifth Hemke lecturer to have had Hemke as a teacher. Loewy is professor and chair of aerospace engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. He was provost and vice president for academic affairs at Rensselaer from 1973-1978, and from 1978-1993, Institute Professor and director of the Rotorcraft Technology Center.

Wells presented the book to John Tichy, chairman of MEAEM.

"I would like to present you with this record, and I think people who use it will be proud to see what RPI grads have contributed to the industry," Wells said.



Kathleen Hinge '84 and Kay C Dee '94 have been selected by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) as featured engineers in its Gallery of Women Engineers.

The Gallery is part of the NAE's Celebration of Women in Engineering project, a resource for young women who may be considering an engineering education and a career in engineering. The Gallery presents biographical sketches of some of the nation's prominent women engineers as a means of illustrating how achievable and accessible an engineering career is for women.

Hinge is technical manager at the Joseph C. Wilson Center for Research & Technology at Xerox Corp. She leads a research and development group that is focused on electromechanical systems simulation and design. She earned bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering at Rensselaer.

Dee is assistant professor of biomedical engineering and director of the cell and tissue engineering laboratory at Tulane University. She earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and master's and doctoral degrees in biomedical engineering at Rensselaer.

The Gallery of Women Engineers can be accessed on the Web from the Celebration of Women Engineers Web site at



While surfing the Web for news about India, Richard Lorenzo '93 and friends discovered a market niche for a Web site that would benefit the Indian community. After careful research, they launched the Internet portal in 1999. With venture capital support and a growing list of advertisers, now has 28 employees in the United States, including Rensselaer graduates Patrick Roche '97 and Neel Master '96, and an additional 60 employees in India.

Lorenzo, who is director of strategic alliances, says, "eIndia was built on the idea of providing the gateway for non-resident Indians to their homeland while also connecting Indians to their community and the world."

News is provided by Reuters, UNI, and the eIndia staff, reporting on international events in major cities and local events in the small towns of India.

In addition to news, the Web site's main sections are finance, travel, entertainment, and food, with such additional services as shopping, career services, and classifieds. "Job opportunities are posted in partnership with the largest career consultants and companies in India and around the world," says Lorenzo.

With a new office opening in the United Kingdom, the job opportunities most on Lorenzo's mind these days are with his own growing company.


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