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Big Red connections: Young alumni and students met with four Rensselaer alumni on the Mars Rover team. Photo by Kris Qua.

Staying Connected

Young Alumni Programs: Out of This World!

You wouldn’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that students gathered around the four young alumni were absolutely enthralled. But as it happened, those four young alumni are rocket scientists — part of the team from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) that built the Mars Rovers. They had returned to campus this spring to share their experiences in a multimedia presentation.

The gathering on March 29 of Troy-area young alumni, Red & White Student Organization members, and students from the Space Society club was part of the Rensselaer Alumni Association’s Back-to-Campus Speaker Series. (See "All in a Sol's Work.") Attendees talked with the alumni, who are members of the classes of ’94 and ’96, about their experiences at Rensselaer and at JPL, as well as the challenges and projects that await them in the future.

Like many of the students who turned out to see the Rover alumni, senior Wally Morris used the opportunity to network and find out more about processes and shortcuts to getting hired. “Being a part of the space program is my dream,” Morris says. “The alumni were unbelievably helpful, giving advice and taking resumes.”

Students weren’t the only ones to benefit from the interaction. The young alumni in attendance also were able to network with the NASA alumni and with each other. “What a fantastic event! I loved getting to see my former classmates again; they are doing absolutely wonderful things with their lives and their Rensselaer education,” says Michele Cannistraci ’96, a teacher who lives in the Capital Region.

“I am inspired by their stories of the Mars Rovers and am excited about their success. I learned so much from them and can’t wait to pass on their stories to my high school physics students.”

The RAA and the Office of Alumni Relations together provide a full range of programs designed specifically for young alumni. Events include pub nights and hockey games, networking and mentoring events, regional activities, and volunteer opportunities. Or, you just might have dinner with a bunch of rocket scientists!

To take part in an upcoming young alumni event, contact Jacqueline Baker at or (518) 276-4132 to find out more.

Alumni Travel Program: Just the Ticket!

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Alumni College in Ireland will focus on Irish culture and traditions.

The RAA’s reinvigorated Alumni Travel Program is now “firing on all cylinders!” The first few trips have already departed, and new bookings are being reserved every day for this year’s remaining trips.

The Alumni Travel Program, which is led by W. Robert McIntosh ’60, Michael Wellner ’64, and Carl Westerdahl, has proven to be very popular. The “Passage of Peter the Great” trip to Russia, scheduled for a July 18 departure, has sold out. A second departure on Aug. 31 is now being planned.

A highlight of the remaining trips will be “Alumni College in Ireland,” Aug. 11-19. Irish culture expert John P. Harrington, professor and dean of Rensselaer’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences, will be our special guest. Harrington is a “native son” who has written and lectured extensively on Irish literature and culture.

“Dean Harrington’s decision to join our Irish adventure adds a whole new dimension to what was already an exciting program,” says Carl Westerdahl, a director of the Alumni Travel Program. “His knowledge and understanding of Irish culture and theater is certain to enhance the experience for all members of the Rensselaer community who participate.”

The remaining 2004 RAA trips are: Tour America’s Great National Parks, June 18 – July 2; Passage of Peter the Great: Russia, Aug. 31 – Sept. 10 (first trip for July is sold out); Alumni College Abroad in Italy, July 28 – Aug. 5; Alumni College Abroad in Ireland with Special Guest Dean John Harrington, Aug. 11 – 19; River Cruise from Holland to Hungary, Sept. 5 – 20; Trans-Canada Rail Odyssey, Sept. 28 – Oct. 10.

Programs for 2005 are now being planned, and your ideas and suggestions for future trips are welcomed. Contact the alumni office at or (518) 276-6205, or visit the RAA Alumni Travel Web site at

Homecoming Weekend Oct. 1-2, 2004
An old tradition is new again this year at Rensselaer. Homecoming is back, and better than ever. Alumni athletes, Greeks, and other alumni groups are invited to join the campus community for a wide variety of events including: the annual NSBE/SHPE Career Fair; the RPI vs. Coast Guard football game and Quad party; the Red & White hockey scrimmage game; and Skate with the Engineers. For more information, contact Peter Pedone at or (518) 276-6061.

@RPInet Alumni Web Community
The Office of Alumni Relations is pleased to announce that Rensselaer will soon introduce @RPInet, the first fully integrated, user-friendly alumni Web community. The new service will place the power to network and gather information into your hands, and will utilize the latest technology to help you stay in touch with classmates and with Rensselaer. Features include: a searchable alumni directory; networking and job/resume posting; an e-mail address; online class notes; discussion boards; online event registration and secure credit card payments; online giving; and customized e-news. Watch your e-mail and AlumServ in the coming weeks for more details about @RPInet.

New Volunteer Relations Program Director Laura Bedford
The Office of Alumni Relations is pleased to welcome associate director Laura Bedford, who has taken over direction of the award-winning volunteer relations program. She replaces former program manager Jeffrey Schanz, who was named director of alumni relations in 2003. “I’m excited to work with Rensselaer’s alumni,” says Bedford. “I look forward to expanding the number of talented volunteers, and finding more ways for them to become involved on campus and in the regions.” Before coming to Rensselaer in March, Bedford directed the Annual Fund — with the help of volunteers — at Albany Law School. Contact Bedford at or (518) 276-3757 to find out how you can make a difference in the lives of current students and fellow alumni by volunteering for Rensselaer.

Receive E-Mailed News From Rensselaer
The Office of Alumni Relations wants to keep you informed of the latest Rensselaer news and alumni programs via its free e-mail newsletter. If you’re interested in receiving the newsletter, go to AlumServ at and click on the “Address Update” tab to fill in your e-mail address.

Please let us know your new address. Update it electronically on AlumServ, e-mail us at, or write to: Rensselaer Magazine, Office of Communications, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180 or fax to (518) 276-6091.

Rensselaer Magazine: Summer 2004
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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in March, June, September, and December by the Office of Communications.

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