Rensselaer Magazine
Feature Articles At Rensselaer President's View Reader Mail Staying Connected Alumni News One Last Thing
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Reader Mail
Rensselaer Magazine Winter 2007

Applauding Commercialization

Anyone who has ever tried to commercialize a new technology will tell you that the process requires bold strategic thinking, marketing savvy, contacts, broad business and economic knowledge, persistence, and a bit of luck. Having been at the forefront of a number of technology commercialization efforts over the past 30 years, I can assure those of you with ideas of fame and fortune flowing from your latest invention that ultimate success is more difficult and takes a little longer than you might think.

While your article [“To Market, To Market”] quoted Professor O’Connor discussing a balance between academia’s lofty goal of broad-based societal benefits (i.e. “we give it away”) and a university’s goal of financial gain, my real-world experience suggests that potential financial gain is the most consistent and predictable harbinger of success. I am pleased RPI is finally emphasizing the commercialization of university-developed technology. It’s not only a means to augment the budget and reward innovative researchers; success in this area serves as a beacon for alumni pride and a magnet for future students who are innately innovative.

Peter J. Vanderzee ’70
Atlanta, Ga.

Sustainable Relationships

Hurray for Dr. Everett in championing sustainability [“One Last Thing”]!

Finally someone is tackling the “elephant in the room” in all these discussions about climate change, environmental degradation, even global, regional internecine conflicts. We as a species will have no future on this planet if we do not evolve to a sustainable relationship with our populations, environment, and economies. In keeping with President Jackson’s focus on educating globally, I would love to see RPI become a leader in developing sustainability sciences, sustainability core measures, and sustainability industries. We need to wean our government and our economy off of the blind assumption that “growth is good.” Can we begin to open people’s eyes? Can we become the leaders of tomorrow?

Sam Kao ’87, M.D.
Alameda, Calif.

Celebrating WRPI

I just ran across the article showing how awesome the Union is and highlighting the great clubs that are here at RPI [“Beyond Books”]. However, I didn’t see much of WRPI mentioned in the article, even though the station is undergoing some amazing changes and celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. We are working toward a new student initiative, trying to not only bring in more students, but bring radio back to campus by increasing our student membership, listenership, and visibility through events and promotions on campus. We’re celebrating our 50th anniversary the first week of November and I encourage WRPI alumni to send an e-mail to to be added to the mailing list for the event.

Trent Gillaspie ’08
WRPI President
Troy, N.Y.

Building a Pipeline

To fight against “The Quiet Crisis,” we need to recognize, indeed celebrate, Rensselaer faculty for their commitment to building collaborative and interdisciplinary programs for students in the sciences and engineering [“Advancing Female Academics”]. RAMP-UP, a program at Rensselaer funded by the National Science Foundation, concentrates on building a better Rensselaer, one which promotes the transformation of campus culture in a way that supports mentoring and support for women faculty in research, teaching, and scholarship. Giving students an opportunity to see positive outcomes for their teachers’ careers is part of the information experience we can provide to build the pipeline for underserved communities including women in science and engineering.

We hope that Rensselaer can continue to focus on the stories of many faculty who have helped sustain the edge of scientific research by their intervention, inspiration, and personal example in the lives of students and devotion to their craft: teaching.

Elizabeth Carrature
Rensselaer RAMP-UP Project
Troy, N.Y.

Science and Faith

I was rather dismayed to see the same old ad hominem attacks on faith [Spring 2007 Mail]. The Bible never taught that the sun revolved around the Earth, and I remember my “science” education at RPI being full of faith. Not my faith, but that of Loren Eisely and others.

Operational science is indeed based upon reason, but no one at RPI or anyplace else has yet offered a satisfactory explanation of where and how information, creativity, or moral ideas originated. I believe it takes oceans more “faith” to believe the unlikely proposition they were all random processes than to believe that there is an intelligence beyond us.

One thing I learned: the more you know, the more you know that you don’t know. Those who think their brains are the end of knowledge truly did not gain the full benefit of a complete education. I am delighted that today’s RPI students are recognizing the obvious.

John Teets ’70
Horsham, Pa.

We’d love to hear from you! To provide space for as many letters as possible, we often must edit them for length. Please address correspondence to: Rensselaer Magazine, Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180, e-mail to alum.mag, or call (518) 276-6531.

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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. ©2007 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.