|Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.
The Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) signals a new era in the history of Rensselaer
The groundbreaking for the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) in September signaled a new era in the history of Rensselaer. When the 202,000-square-foot facility on the south campus in Troy opens by early 2007, it will be a leading-edge arts and media facility that will propel the Institute to the world stage literally, as well as figuratively. EMPAC also will be a key platform for our expanding research and learning enterprise, as well as a place for members of the Rensselaer community, artists, and audiences from all over the world to gather for performances and other events.
Given the long-standing Rensselaer identity as a technological university, and the current economic climate, there are questions as to the advisability of undertaking such an ambitious building project. Rensselaer has been undergoing an unprecedented expansion in the past several years, as we move toward fulfilling the promise of The Rensselaer Plan. I believe that there is no more propitious time to grow and evolve than now. With construction on the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies moving toward its fall 2004 opening, as well as the student life and learning facilities projects on the Troy campus, we are ensuring that Rensselaer will have the unique platforms to be a leading university in the 21st century.
Indeed, EMPAC will give material form to the spirit of the Rensselaer Renaissance. The center will embody the qualities of Leonardo da Vinci: inquiry, imagination, scientific and technological rigor, as well as vision, creativity, and innovation. EMPAC will support and extend the multidisciplinary manner in which Rensselaer conducts so much of its research and learning. We envision EMPAC as a nexus of technological and artistic innovation, with optimized performance space. By definition, EMPAC will involve experimentation, cross-disciplinary inquiry, and advanced research, as the facility will host projects that allow faculty and students to use the leading-edge tools to creatively engage in science and technology discovery. This includes simulation, animation, visualization, and acoustical experimentation. For example, researchers and students may use virtual reality technology to produce three-dimensional images of human cells that will enhance their work.
The construction of EMPAC and the development of its innovative artistic program is part of our mission to educate students for leadership. Because scientific and technological advances have a profound and wide-ranging impact on all citizens, society needs scientists, engineers, and technology experts who are not only well-versed in their fields, but who also are educated broadly and deeply and who can communicate effectively. Therefore, a scientific education must occur in an environment that offers diversity of thought and experiences. The variety of experiences and opportunities for artistic expression that will be offered at EMPAC will shape these leaders of tomorrow. They will be the renaissance men and women who will, in turn, change our world.
As this exciting project moves forward, I encourage you to visit the EMPAC Web site (empac.rpi.edu) for updates on the construction project and on the emerging program that it will house. As the transformation of the Institute continues, the next chapter in the Rensselaer Renaissance will be even more momentous.
|Rensselaer Magazine: Winter 2003|
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