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Barcelona ’01 Fulfills Promise as Filmmaker

Raul Barcelona ’01 earned a degree in electrical engineering at Rensselaer (where he was known as Raul Alvarez), but before he was even offered a job with a NASA contractor in Houston, he had focused his future on becoming a filmmaker in New York.

After three years of shooting, directing, and editing his first feature film on a shoestring budget, Barcelona produced The Promise of New York, a documentary that follows three unlikely candidates campaigning to become mayor of New York City in 2005. The three underdogs—a blogger, a political gadfly, and a math teacher—are also running against incumbent billionaire Michael Bloomberg.The resulting film explores the political process from the perspective of ordinary citizens within the rich fabric of the city. It also has been acclaimed for its irreverent humor.“My initial idea for the film was not about politics, it was about the people of New York,” says Barcelona. “I love the city and the people.”Once he started following the political gadfly, Barcelona found that the mayoral election provided the perfect frame for the film.

Barcelona explored the arts while a student at Rensselaer, where he minored in electronic arts and was active with WRPI and the art and literary magazine, The Gorgon. He later studied computer animation and special effects at New York University.

The Promise of New York ( has been shown at several film festivals, earning Accolade and Audience Choice awards, and was shown on campus in February at an event sponsored by the Friends of the Folsom Library. Barcelona looks forward to releasing the film in New York City this year, and the timing is propitious: New Yorkers will again be immersed in a campaign for mayor.

Alumni News

China Event

As part of the Lally School of Management & Technology’s initiative to build global innovation partners, Lally Dean David Gautschi, front row, center, traveled to China in March to meet with leaders at universities and economic development institutions. He visited Tianjin, Hangzhou, Wuhan, and Beijing, where he ended his trip at a celebration with Rensselaer alumni and friends.

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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter by the Office of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180-3590. Opinions expressed in these pages do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or the policies of the Institute. ©2009 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.