Interview: Meet RPI’s 149th Grand Marshal

KYLE KERAGA ’15 HOLDS the position of Grand Marshal, the highest elected student office at RPI.

Kyle Keraga ’15 said he had always wanted to be Grand Marshal, but it was not until midway through last year that he finally decided that he was going to run. When we asked what his motivation was, he said that he felt there was a need for change. Keraga is a senior pursuing a major in computer science.

In the brief conversation with our GM, we believe that he is a true advocate for change. One of the major issues prevalent on campus is with Sodexo. Coming into the new school year, this is one of the first problems he wishes to address. He also hopes to start a initiative to renovate North Hall, E-Complex, and Quadrangle Residence Hall, as well as improving communication with the student body. Whether it is through Reddit threads or Facebook posts, he wants it to be easier for the general student body to voice their opinions and concerns to the Student Government.

There are three policies that are in the works for the next couple of months. Students have been complaining that they felt they were being overcharged by taxi companies. To combat this, Keraga wishes to reach an agreement with taxi companies to have a flat-rate taxi fee which will be convenient for many students. Keraga also wants to revise the academic excuse policy. Currently all excuses have to be voiced in person. With these changes, it would be possible to voice them over the internet and then later voice them in person. This would help in fringe cases when people are incapable of physically getting to class to take a test or complete a lab. Cases in the past include a fallen tree on a car and ill people who cannot get out of bed. The third policy is a simple prescription delivery service between CVS Pharmacy and RPI. This will be helpful as students can have prescriptions sent to their door for any illness or health issue.

Keraga also wants to bring Zip Cars to RPI. Zip Cars are different than renting cars. Zip Cars are rented on the fly, but anybody that is subscribed can use them. Currently, it takes much longer to ride buses than it would take directly driving a car. The Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students objective is part of the opposition. Ideally, CLASS would like for students to spend most of their time on campus. If Zip Cars arrived, it would allow for a lot more freedom for students on campus. Keraga wants to bring Zip Cars for seniors and juniors as a pilot program, and then eventually provide them to freshmen and sophomores.

Another interesting topic Keraga touched was called a green revolving fund, proposed by student sustainability task force chair Kenny Campbell ’16. With this fund, one could invest in some sort of renewable energy. The money saved from the use of renewable energy will be used to reinvest back in to more renewable energy programs. The cycle would ideally continue on until everything that can be run off renewable energy would be.

The GM also has his own special column in The Poly called the Top Hat. He uses this space to discuss his opinions, raise prevalent campus issues, and upcoming events to the student body.

There seems to be a lot of positive change for the student body. Our elected GM has put in a lot of thought in the daily life of the student as he takes steps towards making the campus safer, academically beneficial, and much more enjoyable. He can be contacted at

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Staff Editorial: Press Pass self-reflects

Staff Editorials are the weekly opinion of the editorial staff. For this Poly Press Pass issue, we decided to let the Press Pass members put their thoughts together into a special piece on Student Orientation and Navigating Rensselaer and Beyond.

Beginning with mutual thoughts, the Press Pass all thought that NRB was more exciting and especially engaging when compared to student orientation. Student orientation was much more structured and formal, dealing with boring, yet necessary matters such as lectures on campus services and introductions to campus. Given that it’s college, we felt as though we were being patronized. Rather than being treated like college students, we were treated similar to kindergarteners being herded around from place to place. A case-in-point would be the (mandatory) bingo game where freshmen had to shake hands with fellow students and flesh out any similarities between each other. While cute, it felt artificial. Yes, it felt somewhat like unofficial class, but on the flip side, student orientation as a whole took care of the boring parts of adjusting to college such as organizing schedules. This let NRB just be a week of fun—for the most part. Additionally, the Press Pass as a whole gives credit to the SO coordinators for fostering a welcoming atmosphere for the students, helping to alleviate some stress and tension and allowing a more relaxed environment. They excelled as competent and knowledgeable individuals, whether answering questions or assisting in preparation of schedules.

Relating to NRB, two common points came up. The first point brought up relates to the catered food at every outdoor event. Options were always limited to just hamburgers, hot dogs, and veggie burgers. The second point was to the number of icebreakers students were subjected to during the entire week. Whether during the day trips or in between trips to lectures, they became tedious and painful, with some trips having hours more icebreakers than others. Students got to know each other better during the actual events much more than with the icebreakers. For example, during The Poly Press Pass event, there were no icebreakers, and all of its participants familiarized themselves with each other relatively well. Otherwise, the Press Pass agrees that the NRB trips were fun and allowed students to broaden their horizons.

The Press Pass would like to wish everyone a successful semester and a great year.

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A capella awes crowd

Incoming classmen show off singing talent

Students were given a chance to sample A Taste of A capella on Wednesday, August 20, as part of the Navigating
Rensselaer & Beyond program. The day started off with members of
Rensselaer’s first a cappella group, the
Rensselyrics, leading the activities. The freshmen participants in this group learned “Kiss Me” by Christian rock band Sixpence Six None the Richer. The students were then divided into three groups based on their vocal ranges. The women went into a separate room to work on the tenor parts, and the men divided into separate soprano and bass sections. Although no experience was required for the event, it was clear how talented the entire group was. After a very short time, each group was singing in harmony. Once the groups were ready, they came together and ran through the song. After practicing for a while, members of the Rensselyrics demonstrated some of their songs for the students, such as “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. James Schure ’18, who informed me how much he had learned about a capella from the program. Many students who had choir experience flourish in a cappella groups. Another student, Chris Zhang ’18, said, “I would definitely think about auditioning for the group after the program if I had time.”

After the Rensselyrics, the Rusty Pipes group came together to practice their song: “Pride” by U2. I spoke with the treasurer of the Rusty Pipes, Elijah Coley ’18. Coley is a proud tenor who knew a significant amount about the club’s inner workings. When asked if there were any rivalries between the groups, he replied, “not as much as they used to be.”

I did not have a chance to meet with the other two a cappella groups, Partial Credit and Duly Noted, but they also performed a song each. Partial Credit is the newest a cappella group on campus and Duly Noted is RPI’s all male a cappella group. The students performed Thursday night at the RPI Playhouse with the RPI Players NRB event.

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Interview: Seth Appert talks men’s hockey program

Men’s hockey head coach considers prospects for heavily anticipated Division I season

HEAD MEN’S HOCKEY COACH SETH APPERT SPEAKS to the media following in a file photo following RPI’s victory over Union College in the second annual Mayor’s Cup Game held at the Times Union Center January 25. Appert interviewed with the Poly Press Pass staff during the Class of 2018’s NRB week, and spoke about the Engineers’ upcoming season, which begins October 4 at the Houston Field House.

When presented with the opportunity to interview Seth Appert, we wanted to gain some insight into the coach’s and team’s past in preparation for this year’s season. Appert grew up in Cottage Grove, Minn. where he began playing hockey at the age of four. In light of tradition, he stayed in his hometown to play for his high school team before moving on to Ferris State University. His aspirations of playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL never became a reality because, as Appert puts it, he “wasn’t good enough.” After nine years as an assistant coach at the University of Denver, Appert was brought to the RPI staff in 2006. He states he was drawn to RPI’s “great tradition of history and success” and believes the team is “a part of the cultural fabric of our community.” When asked about his coaching staff, Appert was humble in thanking Nolan Graham ’03, Bryan Vines, and the newest addition, Andy Thomas, the operations coordinator, for their hard work. He credits them for their work in recruitments and relationships with the players themselves and later states, “You can’t operate a successful Division I program without a good supporting staff.” Appert then went on to credit the Engineers’ fan base in not only intimidating the opponent, but also for the role they play in the recruiting process.

When asked about preparation for this upcoming season, the Engineers cannot focus on one specific team. “That is what put us in the position we were in last season,” Appert states. He expressed his disappointment in the outcome of last season and chucks it up to the team losing sight of their identity. Appert later admits when asked about Union, a fierce competitor, that they were “the team to beat until proven otherwise.” This brought on the question of what the RPI fans should expect when attending a game between these rivals. A chuckling Appert expressed his resentment for the negative representation of the team due to the brawl in last season’s Mayors Cup, but also his appreciation for the great hatred that fuels the rivalry between the teams. Although the team lost some of their leading offensive players to the NHL, Appert is excited going into the new season with new players and new tactics. He plans to reinvent his strategies and feels the team is extremely capable of reaching their goals.

The 2014–15 men’s hockey team begins their season a home with an exhibition matchup with the University of Prince Edward Island at 7 pm on October 4.

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David Brond, Vice President of Strategic Communications & External Relations


I was fortunate to be able to have a chance to meet with RPI’s Vice President of Strategic Communications and External Relations, David Brond, and the Assisstant Director of News and Editorial Services Mike Mullaney. Here is the conversation:

James: I understand you recently came to RPI?

Brond: Yes, this is actually my forth month here. I came here right before commencement of last year. It’s a great time of year to start at a university because you get a chance to see the end of the academic year activities and a lot of the work that we do in strategic communications is sort of preparing for the upcoming academic year so during the course of the summer we’re doing a lot of work with enrollment management and a lot of prep work to start the year so the summertime is a good time to get work done. [In the] fall I’m looking forward to meeting more faculty, more engagement with students, going to some classes, going to some sporting events, and being seen with part of the life and student experiences here at Rensselaer.

James: How did you decide to come to RPI?

Brond: Well, it was interesting. The last two positions I’ve had were at more public universities, and both of those positions gave me some unique opportunities of building brands at places that didn’t have established brands, or needed to strengthen their brands, or were competing to be higher echelon universities or had higher aspirations for that. The most recent experience was at a major health system and a university, a brand new name university so it was creating a brand. I felt that for myself personally and professionally I was looking for something that was a little bit closer to the Northeast. I’d been in Georgia before this, my family is in Massachusetts, my son is in Baltimore, [and]my daughter is in Massachusetts as well as my immediate family, so [the] location made sense. This is also going back to the career-wise: a private university with an established strong brand, that’s something that I’m excited about. You can always enhance it, but it’s not starting from scratch in any means because of the reputation [of RPI]. Years agoI worked with a faculty member who a provost at the time at Delaware years ago who used to work here for a number of years and he was the one that mentioned the opportunity to me. I came here, met with some of the leadership. The way I define

potential opportunities are, Does it have the right product to be able to sell? In my world marketing, communications, and external relations, [RPI] certainly does from its brand, from the student life, from its innovative learning from a research stand-point, and does it have the right leadership? When you have a president who has been doing something for fifteen years, that’s pretty unusual. She and her leadership team know where to go and how to go about doing it, so I said, It’s got those two things, its closer to home. So here I am. Next January and February, when it gets really cold, my wife and I are going to be complaining because we don’t own snow shovels, because we gave all of that up when we got to Georgia.

James: How do you think your strategies to get the name out have changed moving to a more established university?

Brond: One of the things that we do is, when you’re in an organization that does not have a brand, you need to go chase. You need to go be a little bit assertive and be able to put your logo, your association, [and] your brand places. One of the things that I’ve learned and caveats I have is, great brands don’t chase customers. It doesn’t mean we don’t try to attract a class of freshman as established as you and your colleagues are. It doesn’t mean we don’t pursue research opportunities, but we can stay at a level where we know within ourselves who we are, and this is not to mean that its highbrow or that we’re better than others, but we are really very good. And so, not chasing customers, not chasing after things allows us to keep our brand and protect our brand and heighten our brand because it is the Rensselaer brand. So the strategy changes a little bit that way. Some of the things are still exactly the same; you still want to make sure that the faculty and the staff are as engaged in whats going on here, the internal marketing. Every year, you still get a freshman class that doesn’t know the history and the traditions or the things that go on and you want to make sure that they become stewards for four years and alumni for life, who then give back to the organization. The same principles still hold.

James: What do you think your goals are for this year?

Brond: Well, this year, for me personally, the key is to get to know the organization. I’ve been doing this for a number of years, I know how to do the specifics of the role, and what we’re involved with is everything from refreshing the website (to) handling the proactive and reactive media issues, news and editorial sources, to publications, creative services, university events, and community government relations. The blocking and tackling of those things we can do. It’s then how do you do that at Rensselaer to put the fright face of Rensselaer out there. Specifically this yearsome specific goals that we have are refreshing our website is a huge projectvv, we want to have a better, cleaner, more responsive looking field, and adaptability for people on mobile phones for our homepage, for some other selected pages and we’ll continue to grow that to multiple pages. We want to continue to staff appropriately. Our division, Strategic Communication and External Relations has been absent a couple of key positions. We are also starting something which is really important, not we but the school, we are at our 190th year at this university’s founding. That means it’s 10 years from 200, so we’re not going to start a countdown clock, but we are going to have a number of events that begin to start to celebrate and I did want to give you some of the specifics because I’d really like to engage students, knowing that this building we’re in, the center for biotechnology and interdisciplinary studies is celebrating its tenth year. Lally is coming off its 50 year. This president is celebrating her fifteenth year, and chemical and biological engineering its hundredth year. These are important milestones that I think overtime people will realize all the great things that are happening here…things that our loans have done, how the world has been changed. Why not change the world right? How the world has been changed by Rensselaer by virtue of celebrating these milestones and these anniversaries starting now and for the next 10 years building up to this huge bicentennial when you and your colleagues will all come back and celebrate all of the things that have happened.

After discussing Brond’s goals, he discussed about how social media has changed his job. Brond said that it has changed many aspects of it, and although it isn’t the only tool to rely on, it adds a great deal. He specifically mentioned how it had changed how students learned about school closings. Brond mentioned how social media has not only made it easier to get in touch with students, it had also made it easier for students to get in touch with him and other staff. Brond also mentioned how his biggest challenge in communications and external relations is “being able to say yes to everyone”, and how prioritizing was inevitable when dealing with so many issues. Although they would like to help everyone, and try their best to, there is only so much time and so many resources.

Mulaney also spoke briefly about his strategies for getting the RPI name out, and he emphasized how important it was to his department to create networks and learn from the community, to see what they are interested so they can better address them. Much of Brond’s work will be demonstrated this year, and hopefully everyone will attend the upcoming milestone events for RPI.

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Editorial Corner

New chapter for The Polytechnic

Hey readers! For anyone confused by this week’s paper, we as a staff have decided to consolidate Press Pass into the first issue of this semester. This way, coverage of Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond events is more publicized and those who worked on this issue are given more credit. We strove to report on as many events as we could.

For anyone that doesn’t know, we, The Polytechnic, are the completely student-run school newspaper. Our revenue is completely advertisement based and nonprofit, meaning that we are monetarily self-sufficient. We cover nearly every event on campus from hockey games, to Student Senate meetings, and Postergate (for those of you that don’t know, an upperclassman can probably tell you all about it). You name it, we cover it. And if you think we won’t, be sure to shoot us an email!

This semester, we will have familiar content from the past year such as the athletic schedule, Hockey Preview, Athlete of the Year, and club coverage. Additionally, Student Senate meetings will continue to be regularly reported on. You’ll be sure to see our photographer’s running around sports events taking action shots and reporting on student organization events. Heck, if you have seen something interesting, have an opinion, or have taken photos of an event on campus, feel free to send us your pictures or article (preferrably 500 words and double spaced)! We’ll be sure to fit you right in.

I know that last year, many of the candidates for student government ran their platforms on an emphasis on communication, and it sounds cliché, but really do feel free to reach out to us, just as we reach out to other organizations on campus. All of our members are ready and able to respond to leads you may have and want us to cover. This partly stems from our reliable and hardworking staff. As a group, we are tight knit and know the ins and outs of each others’ personalities; we even joke sometimes that we’re a fraternity (after the April Fools issue that came out last year). Our office is Union 3418, so if the door’s open, feel free to come in and talk; we don’t bite. We try and hold office hours for most of the day, so that you can come in if you need help with anything newspaper, RPI, or life related. If not, you can contact us at and leads to

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PSS: fanfare is fantastic

MUSICALLY INCLINED FRESHMEN PUT on an excellent performance for their fellow classmates in EMPAC Concert Hall on August 21 at 9 pm. The different musical groups include the newly introduced jazz ensemble section and concert band section. One of the bands performed “Barber of Seville” by composer Gioachino Rossini.

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Ultimate Frisbee Club welcomes incoming freshmen

Club teaches fundamentals to freshmen; runs round robin tournament in afternoon

FIRST-YEAR PARTICIPANTS IN THE ULTIMATE FRISBEE NRB EVENT PRACTICE their throws of the disc. The participants worked with members of RPI TRUDGE, the on-campus frisbee club.

Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond events were held on August 20, including ultimate frisbee at Upper Renwyck Field. In order to advance the interest of the sport and provide an opportunity for fitness and challenge amongst other RPI undergraduates, students tested their abilities through collaboration and sharpened their skills simultaneously, even the neophytes. In the morning, concentration was placed upon fundamental skills including throwing and catching, defense and coordination.

In the afternoon, students participated in a round robin tournament. I had the chance to chat with the president of the Frisbee Club, Charles Mehrota ’15, who furthered elaborated on the focus of this specific program. As RPI students graduate year by year, “it is essential,” he states, “to recruit incoming students interested in this unique sport.” Given RPI’s reputation (it is one of the oldest universities in the U.S. to offer this sport) and successful record in this sport, it is no surprise that ultimate frisbee “is one of the most sought-after events in NRB” and “one of the earliest to get full.”

If you are interested in information on or joining RPI TRUDGE, you can contact Mehrota via email or speak to him directly. According to their website at, two competitive A and B teams compete in tournaments around the Capital region. They also “attend weekend tournaments throughout the Northeast to compete with other colleges such as Clarkson, Binghamton, Albany, Union, Ithaca, and Geneseo.”

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Swipe sharing remains for coming year

Student Senate teams up with administration to address food service concerns


On Monday, September 25, the 45th Student Senate met for their first meeting of the Fall semester, with guest speaker Auxiliary and Parking Services Director Alexandre da Silva. After an initial presentation by Morgan Schweitzer ’16 on new and updated parliamentary procedure policies, da Silva took the floor to start discussion with senators and the public over recent Sodexo policy changes. Additionally, Shoshana Rubinstein ’16 was approved as the new Senate-Executive Board liaison. Paul Ilori ’17 was approved as Senate representative to the Rules and Elections committee.

Last week, students heard that Sodexo was going to do away with guest meal swipes. A post on the RPI subreddit, which generated 76 upvotes, stated that all meal plans, not just the unlimited meal plans as had previously been announced, would no longer allow students to swipe in guests. The post garnered over 70 comments, many of them negative about the change. It was announced several days later that, due to student concerns, the guest swipe policy would remain the same for this year.

Da Silva started by noting that the meal plan at RPI is more liberal with guests than other colleges, and that they are thinking of implementing a guest program that would revolve around a certain allotment of guest swipes. Even unlimited plans would get these guest passes that could be used for family, friends, faculty, etc. This would give Sodexo more control over how people were using their meal plans, which are, according to Sodexo, non-transferrable.

Noting that the new policy is considered “best practice” by the industry, along with a list of 200 peer institutions, da Silva noted that the discussion would focus on a favorable implementation of these new policies. Lexi Rindone ’15 asked what had prompted the limit on guest swipes. da Silva said that this year, an unlimited plan was introduced, which meant that a student on that plan “could bring in unlimited friends.” In order to prevent this kind of abuse, Sodexo had chosen to shut down guest swipes until a working guest plan could be set into place. While the guest swipes are reinstated for all meal plans, including the unlimited, should students abuse them, that might change.

Rubinstein talked about a constituent concern—that some families were using guest swipes as a family activity. da Silva noted that residence hall rooms or classes are not transferable to family members, either. He talked about working to help students transition into college, and how the meal plans and their requirements were being tailored to help students in as much as possible. After a question by graduate student Kristen Lee asking, he also revealed that the administration and Sodexo were taking into account that only seventy-five percent of swipes were being used. da Silva stated that his main purpose was to work with students towards an allocation of guest swipes that would appeal to the students and Sodexo alike.

Senators and other students present suggested possible solutions, such as students being able to buy guest passes for a certain period of time, having the highest meal plan be 25 instead of 23, or making guest swipes equal to one swipe for the meal plan owner. The question of why sophomores were required to be on the meal plan when some lived further away than upperclassmen was brought up. da Silva said that being on a meal plan helps the success of underclassmen. Keraga noted that meal plan is listed as non-transferable on the website. da Silva said that students couldn’t swipe with someone else’s ID. Once the queue of people waiting to ask questions diminished, Grand Marshal Kyle Keraga ’15 thanked da Silva once again for being available for discussion in an incredibly timely and open way.

The committees then discussed projects for this next year. R&E voted on the handbook for freshmen elections on Tuesday, September 2. The Academic Affairs Committee’s projects include working on advertising student research more, instituting student advisors within majors, and changing the drop deadline. The Student Life Committee’s projects include improving residence halls, instituting an online scheduling system for the Counseling Center, and continuing to work on projects from last year, such as flat-rate taxis and an on-campus pharmacy. The Graduate Council is having a town hall meeting on Wednesday, September 10 at 5 pm in Darrin Communications Center 337, focusing on the additional Graduate Student Activity Fee that was added this year.

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Top Hat

Senate, Hospitality Services negotiate

Opportunities for participation in student government outlined, promoted

Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Rensselaer campus! I hope you’ve all enjoyed your summer, and that you’re ready to get back into the swing of things. With the close of Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond, I hope you’ve been given a taste of what campus life has to offer. The events this year were spectacular and larger than ever thanks to capable, dedicated, and fun-loving Student Orientation advisors and Residence Life Staff, and it was my distinct pleasure to be able to share in the experience.

To new and returning students alike, I want to talk a little about Student Senate and the value of involvement with Student Government here at RPI. RPI Student Government has a little something for everyone, and offers a myriad of ways for interested students to get involved and make an active difference in our community. You may join your Class Council to help plan class events and traditions. You may apply for the Executive Board, headed by President of the Union Erin Amarello. This board manages the budget of the entire Rensselaer Union—supervising and working with clubs to determine their budgets in the process. The Judicial Board, led by Judicial Board Chairman Anthony Barbieri, works with the Dean of Students Office regarding student judicial matters.

As Grand Marshal, it is my role to be a voice for the student body, to represent student thoughts and ideas to the Rensselaer Administration. To this end, I am Student Body President and chair the Student Senate—our Senate is the chief representative and legislative body of the Rensselaer Union, and works with the administration, Troy community, and student groups to collaboratively improve the student experience at RPI. Our focus this year is on integrating a wider community into the student government process—bringing more outside student voices into Senate conversations and assisting other student organizations to reach their goals.

Already, this year’s Senate has begun operations. Over the summer, Sodexo considered changes to meal swipes and the way swipes may be used with regards to guest passes. Having received student feedback on these changes, Hospitality Services and Sodexo graciously agreed to delay any changes, and work with the student body on a compromise approach. This past Monday, Alex da Silva, our Director for Auxiliary, Parking and Transportation Services, spoke before the Senate to hold an open conversation about the proposed changes. Many students both within and beyond the Senate had the opportunity to negotiate with da Silva, including some freshmen.

This conversation was the beginning of a collaborative process between the Senate and Hospitality Services. The Student Senate will be forming a Hospitality Services Advisory Committee by mid to late September—this committee will draw membership from multiple demographics of the student body and will work with both the Senate and Sodexo on food—related topics. This committee will be the vehicle for our collaboration on the subject of guest passes and other focus areas. Once it is formed, we will be sending invitations to grow the committee’s membership. We in the Senate look forward to our upcoming collaboration with Sodexo and the chance to lend professional input into campus food service.

Of course, there are many other ways to become involved in the Senate. Four 2018 seats will be open for election this September. Elected Senators have a vote at our general body meetings, and maintain membership on two or more Senate Committees. On that note, if you’re more interested in a singular topic, our committees are open to general student membership—these committees form the brunt of our project work and offer a great chance for any student (elected or unelected) to make a difference on campus. If you’re interested in becoming involved, check us out at the Activities Fair this Thursday from 6:30–8:30 pm in the Armory. Alternatively, you may reach Melanie Todis, Rules and Elections Chair (, and as always, you may contact me if you need anything at

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Rube Goldberg: Simple has never been harder

Raising a flag should be easy, unless the goal is to make it as difficult as possible

RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINES ARE one of a kind nonsense contraptions that require a good grasp of engineering concepts, so it is no surprise that the prospective engineers in this NRB event would make such a great apparatus for lifting the RPI flag.

A good way to begin freshmen year is getting to know the diversity of activities, clubs, and organizations on RPI’s campus. In an effort to introduce and
familiarize students, the
Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond program put together a Rube Goldberg design and construction activity. Five different categories were given, each representing a different category of clubs and organizations, including sports, media, multi-cultural, and performing arts. Teams were grouped based on students’ interests.

The objective of building the Rube Goldberg machine was defined by the participating students to designing and constructing a machine that could direct a marble into a cup which triggers an RPI flag to be raised into the air. Each team was assigned a section of the Rube Goldberg contraption. Some teams chose to work on providing enough momentum for the marble to fall into a cup, and others focused on building contraptions to trigger the RPI flag.

When asked why students selected the Rube Goldberg activity, one incoming freshman, Leif-Axel Berg ’18, explained that he wanted to better understand the mechanics of a machine. Berg, who is planning to major in Aeronautical Engineering, further explained that a continued experience with hands-on activities will, like this one, compliment his educational experience. Other students mentioned the importance of having fun while playing around with simple materials to create an interesting work of engineering. As teams were required to collaborate to put together a comprehensive contraption, the activity posed many challenges from design, to realization of the specific and overall objectives. From problem solving to teamwork dynamics, the activity provided the group of freshmen important lessons for college encounters and beyond.

It might seem rather silly from an outsider’s point of view to build such a complex machine to achieve a simple task, but this is RPI—a community of individuals who enjoy thinking unconventionally.

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PSS: has anybody seen the snitch?

We got to experience quidditch firsthand on the field. RPI has its own club for quidditch as well as a team. Originating from Harry Potter , quidditch has become really popular. This game has become so serious that there is a 118­-page rulebook associated with it. The International Quidditch Association has been governing the sport for quite a while now and encourages young people to make the sport from a work of fiction come alive. There are now more than 300 schools participating in this game. Students get pretty competitive when it comes to quidditch, no less than soccer or football. During NRB week, students held a game on Renwyck Field. They arranged themselves into four teams based on the different houses in the Harry Potter series. Slytherin and Ravenclaw sat on the sidelines while Hufflepuff and Gryffindor played the first game. Hufflepuff scored the first goal. Most, if not all the students, were Harry Potter fans. Sam Slavitt ’18 said his favorite house was Ravenclaw, as he considered the house to consist of the smart ones. Avery Calhiun ’18 said, “I’m a Slytherin!” She says her qualities to be ambitious as well as aggressive on the field are why she was put into this house. It was clear students were having fun while being competitive as well. The RPI quidditch club seems to be very inviting, regardless of whether one knows the game or not. The game has an actual team that competes with other schools, but the club also allows students to join for fun.
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First-year dean Fayette speaks on philosophies

We had the chance to interview the Dean of the First Year Experience Janelle Fayette. She talked to us about what she wants students to get out of their freshman experience and how it helps them make the transition to independence.

When our parents went to college, the general mantra was “pull up your bootstraps.” They were told to suck it up and deal with problems on their own. The goal of Student Orientation and Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond is to help students through experiences like finding someone to sit with in the cafeteria. It’s a comforting experience to know what’s going on in an unfamiliar place. Freshman year is such a crucial time that President Shirley Ann Jackson has arranged such events to help students accommodate into college.

The first event each new student experiences is the summer Student Orientation. Fayette described it as “the nuts and bolts” of coming to Rensselaer. Questions such as “Where am I going to live?” or “Did I pick the right major?” are answered during orientation. Her view was that new students should meet their peers and professors, while also registering for classes and getting in the last few forms. All of the things a new student might be worried about– such as dorms, food, classes, etc.— are all settled during SO. She finds that students feel much better once they have gone to SO.

Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond is meant to get the new students integrated into life on campus. The first few days are purposely very structured to develop new relationships and meet people with similar interests. As the week progresses students are given more freedom to “choose their own adventure” by tuning their schedule to what is important to them.

Even after NRB week is over, the support for new students does not end. A set of events called the “transition series” are highly recommended for all incoming students, as well as the Fall Activity Fair. The events will again help students meet new people and recognize others from campus. Later, Fayette advises first year students to attend the career fair regardless of whether are currently seeking a job or not. The event is a great way to know what jobs are available as well as how to build résumés.

After NRB, Fayette hopes that new students feel integrated into Rensselaer. If the week succeeds, students will know everything the school has to offer so they can start to take advantage of it the first week, not the last of the first semester.

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Fill your time with meaningful experiences

Union offers plethora of opportunities for new personal directions and involvements

Hey RPI!

I hope that everyone has been enjoying their first week back from summer break. The next few weeks may bring more classes and your first homework assignments, but it also brings a lot of exciting things to the Rensselaer Union when you need a break from your studies.

This Thursday, August 28 from 6:30–8:30 pm is the Annual Rensselaer Union Activities Fair, held in the Armory. Whether you are a freshmen and this is your first exposure to Rensselaer Union clubs, or a senior looking for a new activity to fill your newfound spare time, make sure to stop by. This is the best way to see the 200 plus clubs here on campus. Don’t be afraid to try something new!

If you are looking to get moving with friends and add a little fitness to your life, be sure to check out all the activities being put on through the Mueller Center. Fall 2014 Registration just opened for all fitness classes, so be sure to sign up early to get a spot in your favorite class! For those of you who are looking to join an intramural team, registration is open for intramural kickball, outdoor soccer, touch football, and ultimate frisbee until September 12. Registration for 3v3 basketball, dodgeball, table tennis, volleyball, and walleyball will be open until October 10, and you will definitely see me out on the basketball court! You can sign up through the Rensselaer Union website or stop by the Mueller center and fill out the paperwork by hand.

Upperclassmen and graduate students, be sure to check out the Clubhouse Pub this semester, open 4 pm–midnight and located on the third floor of the Union. Tuesdays are Trivia Nights, Wednesdays are Mug Nights, and Friday means Happy Hour from 4–6 pm. Whether you just want to relax and study with your 21 and over friends, or you want to grab a drink and a bite to eat, it is a great place to spend the evening.

The Union Executive Board will hold its first meeting on Thursday, September 4 from 8:30–10:30 pm, club presidents be sure to shoot me an email at if you would like to be on the agenda. I will begin my weekly open office hours next week on Wednesday, September 3 from 8:30–11:30 am, if you have any questions, concerns, or just want to chat about the Union feel free to come on up to my office in the Student Government Suite.

It is so great to see everyone back on campus, good luck with all your classes, and I hope to see you around the Union soon!

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LARPing through NRB

Freshmen given opportunity to game IRL

The Live Action Role-Play Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond trip focused around two murder mysteries. In these games, participants were given a name tag with a character’s name and a folder containing their in-game identity. The event was mostly full with about thirty players.

According to the director of the event and contrary to popular belief, LARPing does not involve swordfights or other fake weapons. The correct word is “boffering”. A “boffer” is a construction of weapon that involves a piece of PVC pipe, with pipe foam around it, and covered with duct tape.

The first LARPs were run in the 1970s. LARPing, since its creation, has branched into a wide variety of styles. Games can focus on the story, or may be more concerned with dramatic or artistic expression, such as costumes and characters. Events can also be used to achieve goals in the real world, commonly educational or political. There is a great variety of fictional genres used, from realistic modern or historical settings to fantastic or futuristic worlds. For example, NRB had a both a traditional murder mystery and a cyber-themed one based on Shakespeare.

There is no LARPing club at RPI. Instead, events are put on through the Gaming Club, which provides the majority of players for the LARPing events throughout the year. While later in the year, costumes are used, they were not used during the NRB day trip because new players are not expected to have their own costumes. When asked why he chose LARPing, Sol Todin ’18, replied, “My brother had been into similar games and I thought the event sounded interesting.” His character was the drug-dealing owner of the manor in which the hypothetical murders took place.

The freshmen taking part in the game had plenty of time to joke around using the characters’ personas. Unlike the athletic events going on, LARPing gave those on the day trip more of a chance to interact with their peers. Even though only a few of the over 1300 freshmen students were able to experience LARPing, the event put people together with similar interests and helped them make connections. For more information, visit or email

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PSS: throwin’ down on the ’86

As Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond goes on, the ’86 Field welcomed the world of dancing, fighting, and rhythm. A group of first year students learned the traditional martial art of Capoeira. Originally from Brazil, Capoiera is a combination of art and game. While performing, the freshmen lowered their bodies in a self-defense position. In the position, they then moved back-and-forth while preparing to attack. In the background, berimbau, a single stringed instrument, was played to help the fighters find a rhythm while performing. When the right time comes, they then attack with a direct, swirling kick towards the opponent’s head, which the opponent should evade. As the freshmen practiced the complex moves, they slowly learned the style’s intracacies and movements.
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RPI Formula Hybrid invites freshmen into shop


On August 20, the Rensselaer Hybrid Racing Team held their NRB event. Any RPI student is welcome to join the club; whether a business or mechanical engineering major, there are plenty of opportunities to take part in designing, fabricating, and maybe even racing a compact race car. Funded mainly by the School of Engineering, the team has access to a lot of campus resources and tools. In addition, companies sponsor the team by donating various automotive components.

Thanks in part to the Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond program, a few incoming freshmen students were given opportunities to reassemble the team’s race car. From designing the skeletal frame structure, connecting sprockets and chains, to fastening the wheels to the axel, the incoming students got a hands-on experience of what it is like to put an entire race car together. Of course, the frame was already welded together and the current team members guided the new students through the process, but it is definitely a thrilling experience to work behind the scenes of what we see in real life.

The racing cars are built with a combination of steel beams and aluminum parts to balance stability, structural integrity, and weight. Prior to the manufacturing phase, the cars are designed using Computer-Aided Design software. Following a completed design, a finite element analysis is performed to optimize the structural design. Then comes the most exciting part: fabricating, assembling, and bringing to real life the imagination of several minds. The team manufactures a majority of the components on campus using available CNC machines (Computerized Numerically Controlled machines), water jet cutting devices, and a variety of other conventional machine tools. In certain applicable situations, three-dimensional printing is used. The team also utilizes a conventional motorcycle-class 2-cylinder combustion engine with a turbo-charger for additional horsepower and a standard, built-in bike transmission to power the car. Classified as a hybrid car, electric motors work in conjunction with the petroleum-powered internal combustion engine to achieve greater overall efficiency. Once put together, the mini race car can reach speeds up to forty miles per hour, according to a team member. And apparently, the Rensselaer team’s car accelerates faster than a Ferrari. To put the car to test, the team participates in an annual intercollegiate competition, where the design and performance are evaluated.

Based on a conversation with the club’s president Ben Peacock ‘16, participating in the hands-on design and fabrication process compliments the concepts learned in classes. The concepts and ideas learned from classes assist in developing better design and fabrication techniques, and the direct, real-life experience gained from participating in such projects reinforces concepts and brings fresh ideas to the classroom.

If you are interested in getting involved, please feel free to contact Peacock at or on the club’s Facebook page.

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About Poly Press Pass

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work on a newspaper, but have never had the chance to do so?

The staff of The Polytechnic gave first-year students a chance to find out just what happens during the production of an issue of The Poly in a Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond event called Poly Press Pass, held the week before classes began.

It gave freshmen the chance to find out what it’s like to work on a college newspaper by working with regular staff members to create this special edition.

The students who participated in Press Pass came from a variety of different backgrounds and interests, and a number of them did not have any prior experience working on a newspaper.

After learning about the basics of creating a newspaper, the freshmen were allowed to participate in the full cycle of the newpaper production, including event coverage, writing, editing, and photography. They were also given an introduction to the process of laying out a newspaper.

Based on their interest choices, the Press Pass participants chose story leads to cover. They then paired up with staff members and were sent off to take photos and gather information for stories at the other NRB activities. After they returned from their outings, those participating in Press Pass only needed to send in their stories and photographs, but many decided to lend extra support to this issue.

Given that freshmen reporters and photographers covered the stories, this issue focuses on the first-year experience from a first-year student perspective.

For the short amount of time that they had to prepare for newspaper reporting, the Press Pass participants did an excellent job of covering their stories. The students also gained the valuable experience of working together as a team to create an issue that will be read by many across the rest of the Rensselaer community.

­— The staff of The Polytechnic

Press Pass Staff:

Rachel Blacker

Tyler Carney

Kapila Chandramouli

Zhichens Dai

Robert Hazell

Marshall James

Destiny Lopez

Megan Neill

Qu Nengjie

Shreya Patel

Wenjia Shou

Christine Simon

Casey Szalewicz

Jack Wellhofer

Newman Wu

Yike Wang

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PSS: ballroom bonanza

STUDENTS LEARN a variety of dances from student professionals. Freshman enjoyed the best of both social and competitive performance in this dance. Unlike dances such as ballet, people here tend to enjoy the beauty of Tango, Swing, and more. From getting a dance partner they didn’t know, freshmen got more insight into how this dance can bring an interesting and different experience. As they were taught how to move, they got to enjoy a taste of fun, romance, and adoration. Furthermore, with the freedom of the dance, everyone who joined in was able to create good dance steps, and explore the perfection of dance with their partner.
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Build an arcade game

A STUDENT WORKS with circuitry during the Build You Own Arcade Game Navigating Rensselaer a& Beyond day trip.

The Engineering department was abundant with flashing LEDs during the Build Your Own Arcade Game Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond event held by the Embedded Hardware Club. The students were divided into groups, each tasked with creating an arcade game using simple electronic parts, a microprocessor, and a breadboard. Many of the groups had very little experience with programming and circuitry. Everyone was surprised with how much they had learned in such a short time. Students who had never programmed before had entire programs built to run their game in mere hours.

Each team was using either an Arduino or Raspberry Pi microcontroller. One group was using different colored LEDs to recreate Simon, a memory game. Other students were working on a simple jumping game. One group made a one dimensional pong game. Another was working on making a Space Invaders game where the LEDs lit up to turn on in series giving the effect of an enemy moving towards the player. The player had to press a button before the enemy reached them or would lose. The Build Your Own Game NRB was excellent for anyone interested in programming, games, or circuitry, as there is no better way of learning than working hands on with something.

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