Jul 17, 2024  
Rensselaer Catalog 2015-2016 
Rensselaer Catalog 2015-2016 [Archived Catalog]

Educational Programs and Resources

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For more than 175 years, Rensselaer has offered a unique and innovative technological educational experience. As the Institute’s visionary leaders have long understood, ensuring the excellence of this experience requires learning opportunities that extend beyond traditional classroom or campus boundaries. Rensselaer’s students may choose from a broad range of distinctive advantages designed to fulfill their abundant desire for new challenges.

Especially appealing to Rensselaer’s highly motivated and intellectually talented students are opportunities to engage in leading-edge research. Rensselaer’s relatively small size enables faculty researchers to work closely with students, and they eagerly include both undergraduate and graduate students in their research work. Such opportunities are available to students in virtually every major offered through Rensselaer’s five schools—Engineering, Science, the Lally School of Management and Technology, Architecture, and Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

Additional special opportunities include a variety of domestic and overseas student exchange programs, internships, and real-world work experience through the Cooperative Education Program. Conversely, the Vollmer W. Fries and other lecture series bring leading industrialists, governmental officials, authors, and outside educator-scholars to the Troy campus.

Recognizing the benefits of such beyond-the-classroom educational opportunities, leading industries and graduate and professional schools throughout the nation actively seek Rensselaer graduates.

Undergraduate Programs


Office of Undergraduate Education

Vice Provost and Dean: Linda S. Schadler

The office of undergraduate education oversees some of the cross-cutting programs for undergraduates including:  undergraduate research, study abroad, ROTC, and the Advising and Learning Assistance Center.  In addition, the office of undergraduate education oversees assessment of student learning, and encourages pedagogical innovation.  

Rensselaer has more than 30 undergraduate programs leading to the Bachelor of Science degree.  They are listed in the Degrees Offered section of this catalog. All B.S. programs are normally completed in four academic years. Dual majors are also an option that generally can be completed within four academic years. For information on general degree requirements, refer to the Academic Information and Regulations section of this catalog. The individual school sections provide detailed information on the specific curricula that each offers.

The Schools of Architecture, Engineering, and Lally offer professionally accredited degrees. These are the five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree, the four-year Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree, and the four-year Bachelor of Science in Business and Management. See the School of Architecture, Engineering, and Lally catalog sections for more detailed information.

Additional special options available to undergraduates are described below.

Advising and Learning Assistance Center

Director: Michael Hanna

The Advising and Learning Assistance Center (ALAC), located in 4226 Academy Hall, provides support and training for students to become independent learners. The center trains faculty, staff, undergraduate, and graduate students as advisers, peer mentors, learning assistants, teaching learning assistants, and tutors.  Advising events, academic workshops, tutoring sessions, and office hours are offered to all registered students and are coordinated by the staff.  ALAC coordinates programs for students at academic risk, including collaboration with faculty, staff, and the Office of the First-Year Experience on programs for students at academic risk after their first semester.  This formal program, the First Year Intervention Program, assists those entering students who have been unsuccessful in establishing proper habits needed for academic success.  Students in later years on Academic Probation work with individual staff members to facilitate skills development and to establish a path toward graduation.

Members of the professional staff are available to consult with students individually or in groups where they discuss such topics as academic performance, exam anxieties, stress management, time management, note taking, and general improvement of learning skills. The staff also works with students previously diagnosed with learning disabilities.

Additional responsibilities include PreHealth advising through the Professional Health Committee, advising Undeclared/General Studies students, and coordinating English as a Second Language programs.  Through its PreHealth Committee, students are guided through the development of their application portfolio for medical, dental, and other graduate health professional schools. The committee advises students and provides professional letters of recommendation as well as specific advice.

The center also provides information, makes referrals, interprets, administers, and makes, with the approval of the Academic Standing Committee, exceptions to Institute registration policies and procedures.  ALAC processes all academic issues regarding student academic awards, dismissals, and probation. Additionally, the center facilitates a First Year Seminar for Undeclared General Studies Students and training sessions for all new advisers, and updates experienced advisers on changes to Institute policies and procedures.

The center participates in strong collaborative efforts with other support services on campus — the Office of the First-Year Experience, the Dean of Students Office, the Student Health and Counseling Centers, the Center for Career and Professional Development, and the Office of Graduate Education — to help assure that positive, helpful, and exciting connections are made throughout the student’s experience at Rensselaer.

Undergraduate Research Program

As a globally active research university committed to providing student research opportunities, Rensselaer offers undergraduates the opportunity to participate in research projects through the Undergraduate Research Program (URP). This program offers students real-world, hands-on research experience, in which they work directly with a faculty member on a bona fide research project for which they can earn either pay or course credit. There is a special summer program as well, in which the students can compete for funding that will allow them to spend a full summer working on a research project (SURP). Details on the programs are available at http://www.rpi.edu/dept/urp/ or in the Office of Undergraduate Education, Walker Lab, Room 4010.

Notice Regarding Intellectual Property All members of the Rensselaer community, including, but not limited to, graduate and undergraduate students, faculty, staff, administration, visiting scholars and scientists, and guests, are bound by the Rensselaer intellectual property policy. Go to: http://rpitechnology.com/files/ip_policy.pdf. For additional information about intellectual property at Rensselaer, refer to http://www.eship.rpi.edu/intellectual_property.php.

Study-Abroad and Exchange Opportunities

Study abroad has become an integral part of a well-rounded undergraduate experience. Students who spend time abroad will gain a deeper understanding not only of the culture in which they will be living, but also the culture of the U.S. and its place in today’s global society. A period of study abroad allows students to develop a broader perspective on their academic field of study while earning credit toward a Rensselaer degree.

Rensselaer offers a variety of study abroad and exchange opportunities at top universities and institutes around the world. Most semester opportunities require junior standing and a minimum GPA of 3.0. Occasionally, students choose to study abroad for an entire academic year. Faculty-led and other short-term programs are offered during the summer and January vacations. While most programs are offered in English, foreign language proficiency is required at some partner institutions.

Most study abroad and exchange programs are managed by the Office of International Programs. Exceptions to this are the Architecture and International Management Exchange Programs (IMEP), which are managed by the School of Architecture and Lally School respectively. Also an exception is the International Scholars Program (ISP), a 10-week intensive graduate-level international educational experience, which is open to students from all Rensselaer schools and disciplines. The ISP is overseen by the Rensselaer Hartford Campus.

For more information, please contact the appropriate office from the list below.

Office of International Programs, Academy Hall, 4th Floor, Suite 4226
Karen Dvorak, Program Manager, (518) 276-3411, dvorak2@rpi.edu
Jamie Obst, Senior Program Administrator, (518) 276-6663, violaj2@rpi.edu
http://undergrad.rpi.edu/, click on Office of Intl. Programs tab

Architecture International Programs
Carly Brackett, Administrative Specialist, (518) 276-6466, perruc@rpi.edu

International Management Exchange Program (IMEP)
Beth Macey, IMEP Coordinator (518) 276-2388, maceyb2@rpi.edu

International Scholars Program (for graduate and co-terminal students only)
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (Hartford campus), (860) 548-7870

PreHealth Programs

Rensselaer successfully prepares students to enter medical and other health professional schools. These students major in such fields such as biology, chemistry, biomedical engineering and other engineering programs, mathematics, physics, or psychology. Students from any major may apply to any health professional schools as long as they meet basic prerequisites. With their adviser, these students develop a plan of study that allows them to fulfill professional school prerequisites while earning their B.S. degree. For further information, students should contact the Advising and Learning Assistance Center (ALAC) located in 4226 Academy Hall, (518) 276-6269 to meet with members of the PreHealth Professions Committee (http://admissions.rpi.edu/undergraduate/academics/pre-med.html).

Pre-Law Programs

The baccalaureate program in a number of fields will prepare Rensselaer students to enter law school. Rensselaer graduates who obtain law degrees are equipped to enter general practice or to serve in important legal positions in business, industry, or government. In cooperation with Albany Law School and Columbia University Law School, Rensselaer has also developed accelerated programs that permit students to earn law degrees within six years. After a three-year accelerated undergraduate program, the student enters law school. Upon completion of the fourth year, the student receives the B.S. degree. The J.D. is awarded at the end of the sixth year. See the Science and Technology Studies program within the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences section and the Lally School of Management and Technology section of this catalog for further information.

Public Service Internship Opportunity

The Public Service Internship (PSI) is an upper-level course that matches students’ skills with community needs. Interning throughout Troy and the Capital Region, students work for 80 hours at nonprofit organizations and government agencies. The aim of the course is to help students learn how to participate as active citizens in their own communities. By putting technical skills to work in the real world, students gain tangible hands-on experience. Community organizations, in turn, get motivated and highly skilled workers to accomplish goals that might not otherwise be met. Together, both groups benefit through sustainable change. For more information, please call the Dean’s Office of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at (518) 276-6575.

Reserve Officers’ Training Corps

Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) programs are available on an elective basis for students desiring commissions as officers in the armed forces. ROTC programs are undertaken concurrently with baccalaureate degree studies.

Graduate Programs


Office of Graduate Education

Vice Provost and Dean: Stanley M. Dunn

The Office of Graduate Education at Rensselaer provides current graduate students with the administrative, academic, and curricular information they need to progress through their courses and programs. This includes assisting in changes to student degree status and advising on thesis, registration, and graduation issues, and providing approvals and processing for withdrawals, academic dismissals, and leaves of absence. The office closely monitors the effectiveness of graduate education policies and recommends and institutes adjustments to improve program quality. Online information and forms can be located at the Office of Graduate Education homepage at http://gradoffice.rpi.edu/setup.do.

All doctoral programs and many master’s programs involve students in research activities that generally are supported by government, industry, or foundations. Faculty members serve as senior investigators for a wide range of challenging research projects and are assisted by postdoctoral investigators and graduate students. Research opportunities for graduate students are also an important part of many Rensselaer research centers. These centers include the Center for Automation Technologies and Systems (CATS), the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, the Center for Future Energy Systems, the Center for Materials, Devices, and Integrated Systems, the Center for Computational Innovations (CCI), the Network Science and Technology Center (NEST), the Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center, the Scientific Computation Research Center, the Smart Lighting Research Center, and the Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship. Additional information about these centers can be found in the Research Resources and Centers and several other sections of this catalog.

In addition to graduate students working full-time at the Troy campus, working professionals seek degrees on a part-time basis through the Troy and Hartford campuses and distributed sites.

Notice Regarding Intellectual Property All members of the Rensselaer community, including, but not limited to, graduate and undergraduate students, faculty, staff, administration, visiting scholars and scientists, and guests, are bound by the Rensselaer intellectual property policy. Go to: http://rpitechnology.com/files/ip_policy.pdf. For additional information about intellectual property at Rensselaer, refer to http://www.eship.rpi.edu/intellectual_property.php.

Education for Working Professionals


Acting Dean, Rensselaer Hartford: David L. Rainey

Education for Working Professionals (EWP) is one of Rensselaer’s four core enterprises and encompasses a range of programs designed specifically for current and future workforce leaders with a range of high-end, customized degree, certificate, and professional development programs. Program content flows from the heart of Rensselaer’s research strengths and unique academic programs. Rensselaer supports this vision by forging strategic partnerships with businesses, governments, universities, and innovative professionals who impact society and technology around the nation and the world.

The mission of EWP is to educate business and technical leaders with the knowledge, analytical skills, creativity, and inspiration to think strategically, lead change, and create breakthrough solutions that meet the technological and business challenges of the global environment now and in the future. With dramatic increases in the rate of change, working professionals expect and demand an academic environment that fits the evolving needs of their fast-paced world, and Rensselaer responds to this need through the EWP enterprise.

Rensselaer Hartford Campus

Rensselaer Hartford campus provides a challenging educational environment and a dynamic learning experience for students who need to balance their professional, academic, and personal lives. Part-time students attend classes at Rensselaer’s Hartford campus and Groton, Connecticut, site.

Rensselaer Hartford campus offers graduate programs in Information Technology and Web Science and Mechanical Engineering. Courses are delivered by faculty with significant industry experience, solid academic credentials and scholarship, and exceptional teaching skills whose expertise is grounded in sound research and best practices from a global perspective. Each course is designed to meet the needs of working professionals seeking to advance their careers and enhance their organizations’ successes. Rensselaer graduates are entrepreneurial and personify the Institute’s slogan, “Why not change the world?”

Regional Site in Groton, Connecticut

Rensselaer operates a regional site at the Mystic Executive Park in Groton, Connecticut. Students participate in cohort-based learning programs to complete their degrees.

Division of the Chief Information Officer


Vice President for Information Services Technology and Chief Information Officer: John E. Kolb

The Division of the Chief Information Officer (DotCIO) provides information strategies, services, and technology and collaborates with Rensselaer’s diverse campus constituents to find solutions for changing educational research, communication, and business needs. DotCIO responds to the rapid evolution of distributed computing and the need for combining computing and communications services and supports Rensselaer’s nationally recognized interactive learning initiatives.

Campus computing facilities offer students a variety of software including programming language compilers, desktop publishing packages, spreadsheets, and computer-aided design packages, as well as electronic mail and conferencing.

Of the Division of the Chief Information Officer’s seven departments, students interact most closely with Academic and Research Computing and Libraries. Therefore, these two departments are described below.

Academic and Research Computing

Associate Director: Jackie Stampalia

Web site: http://dotcio.rpi.edu/about/organization/academic-and-research-computing
Academic and Research Computing (ARC) provides educational computing services and assistance in support of Rensselaer’s learning and research activities. Computing is integrated into the curriculum and is an essential component of course work and communication.

ARC consists of five groups: Consulting and Research Computing, Help Desk Services, Educational Technology Services, the Campus Computer Store, and Rensselaer Computer Repair. Some of the department’s responsibilities include: administering the Mobile Computing Program, software licensing services, and the numerically intensive computing service providing consulting for researchers; maintaining the registrar-scheduled computer classrooms; and deploying software for all public computing sites. Professional staff members assist students, faculty members, and other computer users by providing specialized consulting, Rensselaer-specific documentation, and training through online short courses. At the Help Desk in the Voorhees Computing Center (VCC), consulting help is available from the ARC staff and services can be requested from any DotCIO department.

All undergraduates are required to have a laptop computer. Through the Mobile Computing Program (http://www.rpi.edu/laptops), Rensselaer offers students a powerful laptop loaded with software at an excellent price, along with on-campus support for both hardware and software. There are network ports in public buildings across campus and in every residence hall room. The wireless network includes large portions of core campus buildings and residence halls and is continually expanding.

Each student receives a Rensselaer Computing System (RCS) account that allows access to the campus network, the Internet, RPInfo (Rensselaer’s website), electronic mail, the Learning Management Systems (RPILMS), and library services.

Campus computing facilities offer students several platforms including PCs running Windows and Linux connected to the network in public labs and classrooms. Some of the larger public computing areas are located in the Voorhees Computing Center (VCC, open 24 hours a day), Troy Building, Folsom Library, and Russell Sage Laboratory. There are also many laptop classrooms across campus that have a network port and power at each seat.

From a single workstation, personal computer, or laptop, a student can connect to Division of the Chief Information Officer host computers on campus as well as to off-campus host computers, data services, and networks. A variety of software is available including numeric and symbolic computation programs (Maple and MATLAB), programming language compilers (C, C++, and Fortran), desktop publishing packages and spreadsheet software (Microsoft), computer-aided design packages (NX is now the more popular CAD package), graphics packages, and electronic mail programs. Specialized software for course work is also installed where utilized.

For high performance computing (long-running, numerically intensive jobs), a Batch Cluster and several UNIX workstations are available. In addition, a cluster of high-performance Linux workstations can run programs that employ parallel processing.

Rensselaer Libraries

Director: Vacant

The Rensselaer Libraries, comprised of the Folsom Library and the Architecture Library (located in the Greene Building), provide the university community with information resources and services in support of teaching and research missions. Researchers can access over 385,000 print book titles, electronic and print journals, electronic books, and view several extensive image databases. Collaboration with the Cole Library (Rensselaer at Hartford) further enhances library support on both campuses.

When researchers need material not held by the Libraries, they can initiate online interlibrary loan requests or use the Connect NY service to borrow books directly, and receive rapid delivery, from statewide consortia holding over 5,000,000 titles. They may also borrow books in person from more than 50 regional libraries.

Reference and Instructional Services’ librarians are available to assist students and researchers personally and also provide specialized classes and workshops on such topics as “Research in a Digital Library,” “Biotechnology Resources,” and “Patent Searching.”

RensSearch, the Rensselaer Libraries’ information gateway at http://library.rpi.edu, provides a variety of services including an online catalog, access to electronic resources, guides to services, and the latest library news. The Libraries’ Archives Web pages provide a digitized history of the Institute.

Notwithstanding the emphasis on digital resources, the Rensselaer Libraries continue to be an important “place” on campus for intellectual and social nourishment.

Patrons may socialize in Library Café, peruse the latest best-selling fiction and non-fiction books in the Class of ‘96 Reading Room, browse, or just relax in the Architecture Library’s bright and airy reading room. Small group meeting rooms can be reserved for collaborative work and group study. Seminar and conference rooms are available to Student Union recognized groups. The Friends of the Folsom Library sponsor monthly “Lunch & Learn” topics in a casual setting. Folsom’s fourth floor provides breathtaking views of New York’s Capital District and the Hudson Valley. A unique stainless steel water sculpture, designed by Charles Moore, rises from Folsom Library’s third floor up through the fourth floor, creating a soothing ambience for study.

Center for Initiatives in Pre-College Education


The Center for Initiatives in Pre-College Education (CIPCE) seeks to leverage Rensselaer’s strengths in interactive pedagogies and technologies by developing technology and scientifically based activities which are implemented in after-school workshops and summer experiences for pre-college teachers and students. With one of Rensselaer’s stated objectives being to “seek a diverse body of students, especially groups underrepresented in science and technology”, CIPCE’s programs all have as their ultimate aim to fill the pre-college pipeline, while at the same time developing deep and lasting partnership with school districts. CIPCE believes that Rensselaer must include as part of its mission to prepare more young men and women for challenging careers as part of the future STEM workforce. However, it is not enough to wait for students to apply for admission before inviting them to campus. Rensselaer must reach into K-12 schools to identify, motivate, and educate those with a talent and drive to excel and lead, while paying special attention to the one-half to two-thirds of the population represented by women and minorities. Members of the Rensselaer community must mentor and encourage young people to engage in the study of mathematics and the sciences. Additionally, with the recognition that Rensselaer undergraduates are often our best recruiters, CIPCE’s programs use undergraduate students as facilitators. Its activities include:

  • Professional development activities for teachers including on-site classroom support; after-school workshops; and summer institutes.
  • The use of online and other distance learning technologies to facilitate its professional development activities.
  • The development of instructional materials for classroom use.
  • The development and implementation of after-school LEGO, VEX, and other robotics and interactive technology experiences for K-12 students.
  • The development and implementation of summer Robotics Engineering Academies for K-12 students.
  • Cognitive research focused on how technology affects student learning.

CIPCE is in the process of developing articulation agreements with several universities that have Schools or Departments of Teacher Education. With these agreements, Rensselaer students desiring New York State secondary school teacher certification will be able to seamlessly receive this through these universities.