|The neighborhood also was a draw for WMHT, which was moving from an industrial park in Rotterdam. Like all public broadcasters, the station struggles against competition from cable networks. It is eager to capture a younger audience, including the demographics represented by the Rensselaer community.
“If we’re going to be around in five or 10 or 20 years, we need to be not just pleasing people but making a difference in the community we’re engaged in,” says WMHT’s Altman. “You can call it economic development, call it whatever you want, but building a sense of community is crucial. We’d like to see our relationships with RPI itself grow and share the wider world of things that are going on.”
Pitney Bowes MapInfo’s Hickey says the setting, near other providers of technology and education“birds of a feather” he calls themis important to the message and morale of the company.
On the southern edge of the Tech Park is the blue-frame home called ARCH House, which Rensselaer architecture students designed and built as a project that examined affordable, prefabricated housing.
In the center of the Tech Park, thousands of visitors to the Children’s Museum take in the Molecularium, the globally distributed animated show developed and patented by Rensselaer researchers that tells the story of life in a planetarium format.
“Rensselaer’s Lighting Research Center has done a number of projects out here. LRC students are going to analyze how to use LED street lighting, on the new (GE) road,” says Wacholder.
Over the years, scores of Rensselaer students have interned and have been mentored in offices at the Tech Park. A notable segment of MapInfo’s workforce came straight from the Troy campus. That’s in addition to the concepts born in Rensselaer classrooms that moved to the commercial marketplace via the Tech Park, such as Pitney Bowes MapInfo and BullEx, the patented fire extinguisher training system used worldwide that originated in Rensselaer’s Inventor’s Studio course and continues to maintain its headquarters in the Tech Park.
With biomedicine, supercomputing, digital broadcast, and the myriad ventures they spawn now unfolding in North Greenbush, there are even more plans to join the park with the campus.
“People like me absolutely have to take this as a responsibility. There’s nothing that stops any of us from taking the initiative,” says David Gautschi, dean of the Lally School of Management & Technology. “Michael Wacholder has done a terrific job. Now we have to take a more deliberate look at insinuating ourselves into the activities at the Tech Park. Let’s face it; we have to be able to promote our value to them. When businesses go through a large evolution they aren’t necessarily thinking about how they can make connections to us.”