Alan Eckbreth 76
Alan Eckbreths first connection with Rensselaer at Hartford was as a student earning a masters degree in engineering science. He already held a Ph.D., and was a top researcher at United Technologies Corporation (UTC), a global company that develops new technologies for aerospace, defense, and other industries. Eckbreth took advantage of what his company had offered him and what Rensselaer at Hartford pioneered graduate education for working professionals.
Today Eckbreth is leading Rensselaer at Hartford toward a new frontier as its vice president and dean. Education for Working Professionals (EWP) is one of Rensselaers core enterprises under The Rensselaer Plan. Since Eckbreth took the helm last year, EWP has undergone an overall transformation that began with the consolidation of all of Rensselaers distributed education functions. A significant effort is the integration of the Professional and Distance Education program on the Troy campus with Hartfords on-campus and professional development programs to restructure the EWP core enterprise under Eckbreths leadership. Eckbreth is based in Hartford but travels frequently to the Troy campus.
Whats happening now is that, through the Internet, distance-education technologies are becoming highly commoditized, he says. Just about every university in the country is offering distance-education learning. The one thing we dont want to become is another supermarket of degree programs.
To strengthen its EWP offerings, Rensselaer is in the process of redesigning the curricula to create customized degrees and cohort programs that can be offered on-campus and/or distance-delivered. The new and revamped programs will allow EWP to serve a more specific audience namely, executives who are currently leaders in their companies and high-potential employees, the future organization leaders.
Eckbreths vision is to take this model a step further in developing more specific customized degrees: If employees of a pharmaceutical company want to study in a masters program in management, for instance, Rensselaer would select and tailor courses that would be most appropriate to that industry sector, he says.
When we talk about customizing, were not only talking about degree customization were also talking about faculty interaction with the students in our distributed programs. Thats something you often dont get when you take online courses, he says. Faculty will visit corporate sites several times a semester for face-to-face interactivity, and many other opportunities are built into courses.
To increase the involvement of research-active faculty, Hartford has begun the transition from a clinical faculty to a tenured/ tenure-track faculty. By the end of this year, Eckbreth expects to have about six tenure-track professors in the Hartford Department of the Lally School of Management and Technology. Soon thereafter, tenure-track positions will be filled in the Department of Engineering and Science.
Eckbreth is also committed to strengthening ties with corporate partners, particularly those specializing in aerospace, pharmaceuticals, and finance. Were focused on companies to not only serve their employees educational needs, but also to establish robust research relationships, he says. We hope these relationships will benefit both Rensselaer and the companies ultimately providing renewed economic growth for the region.
Prior to joining Rensselaer, Eckbreth had a 34-year career at UTC in Hartford, serving as senior research scientist, assistant director of research for chemical sciences, and director of UTC Fuel Cells programs.
|Ronald Kudla has been appointed executive director of intellectual property, technology transfer, and new ventures at Rensselaer. Kudla will oversee the strategic development, protection, marketing, and licensing of promising innovations arising from the Institutes research activities. He reports directly to President Shirley Ann Jackson. His most recent position was director of academic liaison for North America within the Genetics and Discovery Alliances Group at GlaxoSmith-Kline. There, he was responsible for, among other things, establishing strategic research alliances, consortium agreements, technology in-licensing agreements, multi-year research grants, and new technology assessments with North American universities and government research entities.|
|Vera Kettnaker, assistant professor of computer science at Rensselaer, has received a Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation (NSF). She will use the awards $400,000 grant to develop a video monitoring system that may someday offer seniors a better way to receive help. The device would be able to analyze an elderly persons movement patterns to detect a potential problem and, if needed, summon help automatically. The CAREER award provides a grant of $400,000 over five years and is the most prestigious honor the NSF presents to junior faculty. She is one of 22 Rensselaer faculty members to receive this award in the past four years.|
|Nadarajah Narendran, director of research at Rensselaers Lighting Research Center (LRC), has been named a fellow of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America. The designation is given annually to a member of the society who has made a valuable contribution to the societys technical activities and to the illumination science and engineering profession. Narendran was chosen for his pioneering research and educational activities in the area of solid-state lighting. He was also cited for his leadership in bridging the science of solid-state lighting to mainstream lighting applications. He is the fourth LRC faculty member to receive the honor.|
|Michael Shur, the Patricia W. and C. Sheldon Roberts 48 Professor of Solid State Electronics and director of the Center for Broadband Data Transport Science and Technology at Rensselaer, has been honored as a Blue Spectrum Pioneer by CompoundSemi News Online. This is the first time the awards have been given. Shur was honored for extraordinary contributions to blue spectrum development and faith in the future.|
|Samuel Wait Jr. 53, associate dean of science and professor of chemistry, was honored with the Rensselaer Alumni Association (RAA) Fellows Award from the Office of the Dean of Science and the Department of Chemistry. Wait has been a volunteer for Rensselaer in many roles, including president of the Class of 1953, chair of his 50th Anniversary Reunion Planning Committee, chair of the Rensselaer Annual Fund Faculty/ Staff Campaign, and member of the RAA Awards Committee. Wait, who also was honored as a 50 Year Member of the American Chemical Society in May, received a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in chemistry from Rensselaer.|
|Lynn LaChance has been appointed executive director, Connecticut Quality Council (CQC), located at Rensselaer at Hartford. LaChance had been serving as acting manager of CQC since March. Before that, she worked for the past four years as manager of computer information technology at the Rensselaer Learning Institute. LaChance has more than 10 years of experience in the financial services and insurance industries. CQC is a private, nonprofit coalition of business, government, education, and labor that promotes the philosophy and principles of quality and continuous improvement as a sound business operating strategy for all organizations. In the fall of 1990, Rensselaer at Hartford joined with 27 business leaders in the founding of CQC.|
|Gwo-Ching Wang, professor and chair of physics, applied physics, and astronomy, received a $780,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to fund eight fellowships to enhance interdisciplinary graduate study in areas of terascale electronics, and photonic materials and devices. The grant from the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need Program (GAANN) will provide up to $21,500 annually in individual stipends plus full tuition for three years. The fellowships will allow students to study with eminent faculty members in physics, chemistry, materials science, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering.|
|Mark Mistur 83, associate dean of architecture, has received the 2003 Rensselaer Alumni Association Teaching Award. He was praised for incorporating political, social, economic, and cultural issues into his teaching, and for being a leader in integrating schools and disciplines across the Institute. He was recognized for his sense of values, wit, and insight, and his acumen as an adviser, teacher, and leader. Mistur received a bachelors degree in building sciences in 1982, a bachelors degree in architecture in 1983, and a masters degree in building conservation in 2003, all from Rensselaer.|
|George List, professor and chair of civil and environmental engineering, received the David M. Darrin Counseling Award at Commencement 2003. The award was established by David Darrin 40 to recognize a faculty member who has made an unusual contribution in the counseling of students and who demonstrates special concern for the welfare of students in and out of the classroom. The selection of the award recipient is made by Phalanx, the student leadership honorary society.|
|Carlos Varela, assistant professor of computer science, has received an Eclipse Innovation Award from IBM for 2003. Faculty members were asked to submit grant proposals that use the Eclipse open source code for teaching or research. Award winners will present the results of their projects at the Eclipse Innovation Workshop in October. Varelas proposal is titled Dynamic Visualization of Java-Based Highly Reconfigurable Distributed Systems.|
|Merritt Abrash, professor emeritus of cultural study, has published a book titled Mindful of Utopia (1stBooks Library), a futuristic tale of a man thrown headfirst into a parallel world that is both ideal and disconcerting. Abrash taught the course Utopia in Theory and Practice at Rensselaer for many years. In 1976 he initiated the Society for Utopian Studies, which has become the leading scholarly organization in the field.|
|Daniel Berg, Institute Professor of Science and Technology and professor of decision sciences and engineering systems, will receive the IEEE Educational Activities Meritorious Achievement Award in Continuing Education during the IEEE Board of Directors Meeting Series in Seattle Nov. 14. Berg is being honored for a lifetime of contributions to the education of working professionals through leadership in the establishment and growth of innovative distance learning programs and through distinguished teaching in such programs.|
|Dale Masten, assistant to the dean of architecture, has received the 2003 Pillars of Rensselaer Award, the highest honor given to a staff member. Masten, who joined Rensselaer in 1991, was cited for her work in planning a 20th Roman Studies Anniversary set of events that made history here, and developed a great allegiance by many of our alumni to our future efforts in international programs. She was praised for her volunteer participation in Commencement, the United Way campaign, the American Heart Association, Rensselaers 125th Anniversary celebration, and Space Week. The Pillars Award is presented annually to a staff member who understands the Institutes mission and history, has been a role model for other employees, has showed concern for students and their welfare, has added to the human dimension of the school, and who has played an active role in his or her home community.|
|Jeffrey Schanz has been named director of alumni relations. Schanz, who has served as acting director of alumni relations during the past 13 months, will be responsible for planning, managing, executing, and evaluating all programs of the Office of Alumni Relations. As director, he also will serve as the executive director of the Rensselaer Alumni Association (RAA) Board of Directors. He joined Rensselaer in 2000 after serving Marist College as director of alumni affairs, executive director of the Marist Alumni Association, and adjunct lecturer in the School of Communications and the Arts. He has a bachelors degree in political science and a masters of public administration, both from Marist College.|
|Rensselaer Magazine: Fall 2003|
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