Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is a laboratory of innovation and technology where scientists, artists, engineers, architects, and business students of all backgrounds learn and work together to create a collaborative learning environment unlike any other. The Institute is committed to fostering a campus of diversity and inclusion, where all students have the opportunity to reach their extraordinary potential.
Founded nearly two centuries ago, Rensselaer was the first technological research university founded in America, yet it is one of its most modern in terms of technology and innovation. It’s composed of five schools: Engineering; Science; Architecture; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; and the Lally School of Management. Each has its own distinct characteristics and traditions, but through cross-discipline courses and programs, they work as one to ensure that students receive a well-rounded education.
Its student body is a true multicultural mosaic, as undergraduates come from near and far to learn at Rensselaer. Among the current freshman class, 49 states and 62 countries are represented. While here, they’re part of a rigorous learning environment that’s devoted to educational innovation in the laboratory, classroom, and studio.
Learning with CLASS
At Rensselaer, students receive a comprehensive education where they’re exposed to a wide array of topics and people. Central in this is CLASS, or Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students. This initiative involves the entire Rensselaer community working together to engage students in multiple facets of the educational experience at Rensselaer. Through time-based clustering, residential commons, interdisciplinary programs, and a support network of peers, staff, and faculty, students develop the intellectual agility, multicultural sophistication, and global awareness that will enable them to change the world.
Students at Rensselaer also have the opportunity to lead or assist with projects that have lasting and far-reaching effects. They’re tackling such societal challenges as clean water, safe food, climate change, renewable energy, and disease control. They’re also building bridges, planning cities, and exploring the deepest reaches of outer space. In short: they’re changing the world.
At Rensselaer, students learn by doing. Engineering undergraduates, for instance, work alongside acclaimed faculty on fuel cell research, earthquake engineering, and electricity transmission. Other students perform environmental research at the Darrin Fresh Water Institute or take part in the annual GameFest, where they can showcase the computer games they’ve designed in front of industry professionals, gaining valuable insight into the profession.
Location is another benefit that Rensselaer students enjoy, as the school is a short drive from the tech hubs of Boston and New York City. Rensselaer’s Center for Career and Professional Development can help students strengthen their résumés by arranging internships and co-ops in not only these two cities but also at corporations, labs, and start-ups around the world. Amazon, Google, IBM, and NASA are just some of the places where Rensselaer students have learned on the job.
Turning ideas into action
Rensselaer is at the center of some of the most groundbreaking research taking place today. It’s currently home to 33 research centers across five schools, with annual funding awards topping $110 million. Its primary research areas include biotechnology and the life sciences; energy and the environment; computational science and engineering; nanotechnology and advanced materials; and media, arts, science, and technology.
Starting their freshman year, students have the opportunity to don lab coats and take part in research. Each year, more than 700 students participate in Rensselaer’s Undergraduate Research Program, which allows them to work on projects that could conceivably culminate with presentations at conferences or publication in journals.
When class is over
From Street Dance club and Black Students’ Alliance meetings to kung fu class and rugby practice, days at Rensselaer are never dull. The school offers more than 200 student clubs, organizations, and intramural activities. And adding to the school’s vibrant and diverse atmosphere is the abundance of undergraduates who call campus home. More than 60% of students live in Rensselaer’s 21 residence halls. Some of the halls are themed to match interests such as Design and Arts Housing, Leadership House, Wellness House, and the Vasuda Living and Learning Community. There are also 29 active fraternities on campus, with some geared toward minority students.
When off campus, Rensselaer’s hometown of Troy packs a punch in terms of cultural, entertainment, and dining options. One Friday a month, the town hosts Troy Night Out, a popular night of museum and musical events. Other events include the Troy Pig-Out, Victorian Stroll, and Chowderfest, when, as you guessed it, chowder tasting takes center stage.
Another important aspect of student life at Rensselaer is studying abroad. The Rensselaer Education Across Cultural Horizons provides students with a variety of short- and long-term international study options in more than 15 countries on five continents. Some programs are professor led, while others are service opportunities or internships at overseas corporations. At Rensselaer, exposure to the world is not only encouraged but expected of all students.
Come see for yourself
At Rensselaer, seeing is believing, which is why it’s suggested that prospective students visit the picturesque campus. Information sessions are held Monday through Saturday, during which admission counselors are available to answer questions and tours are led by current students, giving you the inside scoop on why Rensselaer is one of the world’s most innovative and forward-thinking universities.
A Role Model Unequaled
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson, PhD, is a renowned scholar, educator, and public servant who has led Rensselaer since 1999. An acclaimed theoretical physicist, Jackson is the first African American woman to receive a doctorate from MIT—in any field. She worked at Bell Labs for 15 years, taught at Rutgers University, then served as Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission before taking over the helm at Rensselaer and transforming it into a world-renowned research and educational institution.
Jackson’s expertise has not gone unnoticed beyond the walls of academia. In 2014, President Barack Obama appointed her co-chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board. Before that, she served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, among numerous other government and science boards.
Included in her many accolades is membership in the U.S. News & World Report STEM Leadership Hall of Fame; Black Enterprise magazine Women of Power Legacy Award; and 53 honorary doctoral degrees. To sum up her immense legacy, Time magazine once called Jackson “perhaps the ultimate role model for women in science.”