Executive Summary
The Rensselaer Plan 2024
Goal Fundamentals Undergraduate Education Graduate Education Research Communities Enabling Change Leadership


The most significant transformation at Rensselaer over the past decade has been the creation of a research portfolio of a size, significance, quality, and prominence that positions us to impact Global Challenges.

Over the past 12 years, Rensselaer has solidified its place among the important technological universities of the 21st century by investing in topnotch researchers, broad-based programs, sophisticated research platforms, and strategic partnerships. Important new research has emerged from strategic investments in the Institute-wide signature research thrusts of Biotechnology and the Life Sciences; Computational Science and Engineering; Media, Arts, Science, and Technology; Energy, Environment, and Smart Systems; and Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials.

Rensselaer has developed a broad and unique network of outstanding research centers such as: the NSF Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center; the NSF Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center; the Lighting Research Center; the Center for Modeling, Simulation, and Imaging in Medicine; the Scientific Computation Research Center; the U.S. Army Research Laboratory—Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center; the Center for Cognition, Communication, and Culture; the Bioengineered Heparin Consortium; the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology; the New York Center for Astrobiology; the Center for Automation Technologies and Systems; and the Center for Future Energy Systems.

Our research efforts are undergirded by an integrated network of major research platforms, including: the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies; the Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations; the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center; and the Center for Materials, Devices, and Integrated Systems, which includes the Micro/Nano-Fabrication Facility and the Materials Characterization Core.

Collectively, the Signature Thrusts, centers, and platforms provide the basis for significant contributions in the years ahead.

As we enter the next phase of research at Rensselaer, it is essential to link our strengths in the five Signature Research Thrusts to the Global Challenges facing society.

We now have a broad, collaborative and vibrant research community at Rensselaer, focused on the growing interface of the basic sciences, social sciences, and engineering. This provides the basis for innovative solutions to today’s Global Challenges, including: mitigating disease; providing clean food and water; developing new sources of clean and renewable energy; and establishing a sustainable and resilient national and international infrastructure. We are inventing new routes to advanced manufacturing that lead to new products and processes. We are developing new materials for advanced computing, energy storage, and medicine. We are pioneering new technologies to manage the explosion of data from new communication networks and control systems. We are working to understand human cognition in communication and culture and to navigate the complexity of global markets.

We will address these challenges and opportunities to have even greater levels of impact in the years ahead.

Energy, water, food
Climate change
Infrastructure, sustainability, resilience
Global markets
Cognition, communication, & culture
Science, technology, & society
Disease & disease mitigation
Beyond silicon/advanced materials
Advanced manufacturing

5.1 Growth of Signature Thrusts
Our five Signature Thrusts and core research strengths will serve as the foundation for continued growth and impact. Therefore, we will:

  • Grow research funding to $250 million in annual research expenditures.
  • Strengthen basic research endeavors across the Institute.
  • Promote applied research that enables rapid translation of innovative solutions to key Global Challenges.
  • Continue to recruit and support leading faculty in identified priority areas, with a goal of building the tenured and tenure-track faculty size to 500.
  • Continue to invest in exceptional research infrastructure, including important core facilities within flexible research platforms.
  • Establish partnerships through multiple sectors to expand the research reach and impact of the Institute.
  • Position Rensselaer to shape the national and international scientific, technological, economic, and societal agenda.
  • Measure key outcomes related to impact and leadership, including faculty recognition and sponsored research growth.

5.2 Addressing Global Challenges
In building on our achievements in Signature Thrust areas, in order to address one or more Global Challenges, we choose to address topics that are scientifically rich and challenging—from data analytics, healthcare technologies, sustainable infrastructure, and advanced manufacturing to cyber-infrastructure/security, big data, and environmental change. Therefore, we will:

  • Strengthen existing and develop new Signature Thrusts that link to Global Challenge areas.
  • Create new “constellations” of exceptional faculty, staff, and students in Signature Thrust areas linked to Global Challenges.
  • Select and nurture new areas of focus that match our core strengths and physical infrastructure.
  • Expand mechanisms for extramural research and activities with the federal government, industry, and non-government organizations.

Emerging Ventures Ecosystem

5.3 Intellectual Property, Technology Commercialization, and Entrepreneurship
Rensselaer has a long and successful history of partnering with industry. A strong approach to intellectual property, technology commercialization, and entrepreneurship, coupled with the fundamental strengths of our research, will facilitate the formation of substantive new public-private partnerships, and the launch of new enterprises.

With an expanding research base, we will cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit, and the motivation for innovators to pursue commercialization. We will:

  • Expand and strengthen the Emerging Ventures Ecosystem (EVE) to foster the development of a broad range of start-up ventures, including those based on important emerging technologies.
  • Increase awareness of intellectual property, preserving its value in agreements that cover the use of intellectual property developed in research.
  • Continue to develop intellectual property policies that encourage entrepreneurship, protect Rensselaer intellectual property, and allow the university to take equity positions in new ventures as appropriate.
  • Create competitive licensing opportunities for companies interested in supporting sponsored research at Rensselaer.
  • Ensure that intellectual property policies have adequate and appropriate conflict-of-interest and conflict-of-commitment provisions.
The Rensselaer Plan 2024

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