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One of the most effective avenues for exposing students to the research experience at Rensselaer is the Undergraduate Research Program (URP), which currently is being strengthened and enlarged. A model forthe modern technological university, URP creates an environment for learning and teaching that attracts top students and faculty, encourages and rewards innovation, and prepares students to become leaders in their fields.

O.T. Swanson Laboratory

O.T. Swanson Laboratory: World-Class Educational Facilities
The O.T. Swanson Multidisciplinary Design Laboratory, located in the high bay area of Rensselaer’s Jonsson Engineering Center, was completed in 2000. This remarkable facility supports myriad undergraduate research projects and courses — from Inventor’s Studio to Introduction to Engineering Design — and simulates the work environment that graduates can expect to encounter in their careers. Real-world projects are generated by industry sponsors, community service agencies, and entrepreneurial ventures seeking creative solutions.

The upper level of the two-story lab provides a state-of-the-art design conference facility where teams of students from multiple disciplines work in 12 conference areas covering 6,000 square feet of floor space. Using advanced systems for computer-aided design, simulation, and analysis, students conceptualize solutions to actual engineering challenges. Flexible workspace and Internet connections promote real-time interaction between students, sponsors, and the world.

In the lower level, students have 8,000 square feet in which to build and test prototypes of their designs.

Projects undertaken with industry sponsors include development of a multisensor probe using thin-film technology for Lockheed Martin, improvement of papermaking processes for Albany International, and design of an in-home elevator for United Technologies Corp. This team presented UTC with viable designs that could be marketed at roughly half the cost of current home elevators.
For the student, the experience is an opportunity to explore new technologies, to apply coursework to real problems, to develop relationships with faculty, to exercise curiosity, and to investigate an area of interest that could develop into a lifelong pursuit.

For faculty members, the program offers a chance to work on projects that cut across disciplines and to explore new and innovative collaborative projects that might not otherwise be possible.

In the summer of 2001, the selection process for summer research projects was enhanced, and program funding increased to provide more substantial stipends and to be more competitive in attracting students.

Curriculum enrichment includes external support and internal development. For example, Rensselaer has received $1.2 million from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to improve undergraduate science education through the development of new biotechnology-related courses and student and faculty exchanges with other universities.

A new Bachelor of Science in Electronic Arts program was offered by Rensselaer for the first time in 2001. The innovative program will offer art students a unique environment in which to develop and realize cutting-edge electronic art, while, at the same time, it contributes to the intellectual diversity of the Rensselaer student body.

Important developments in support of undergraduate education inspired by The Rensselaer Plan range from instructional workshops to major financial awards. For example, an annual colloquium on teaching and learning is offered by the Office of Undergraduate Education. That office also provided 50 laptop subsidies for faculty and 28 curriculum innovation grants in 2001, and a new two-week orientation program was established for International Teaching Assistants.

A Lively, Engaging Student Experience
College is not just about academics and career planning. It is about exploring new interests, learning to live with a variety of people with different backgrounds and different perspectives, discovering one’s strengths and weaknesses, exploring new interests, and having fun.

Initiatives springing from The Rensselaer Plan are enlivening campus life intellectually and socially, and providing pervasive opportunities for student enterprise, community service, and leadership development. Rensselaer is demonstrating an unfaltering commitment to student success that extends from the first contact with Rensselaer to the alumni years.

The first-year experience. At the heart of The Rensselaer Plan is the importance of community. While working to develop and maintain essential relationships among partners outside the campus, Rensselaer also is focused on enhancing the overall quality of life within the Rensselaer community.

People, Programs, Platforms

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Rensselaer Magazine: December 2002
President's View Your Mail From the Archives Hawk Talk Class Notes Features
Front Page At Rensselaer Milestones
In Memoriam Making a Difference Staying Connected
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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in March, June, September, and December by the Office of Marketing and Media Relations.

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