Veronica Mars provides a solid ending

Film successfully funded through Kickstarter; follows Mars during amateur detecting

KRISTEN BELL REPRISES her role as the young private investigator, but nine years in the future after graduating law school.

Crowdfunding has taken the world by storm. With the advent of services like Kickstarter, it has become the norm for nascent companies to pitch product concepts to the masses in order to convince them to donate their hard-earned money and fund production. Many products have seen successful crowdfunding campaigns: everything from video games to smartphone screen protectors have been released on the money of “backers.” Things became a bit more unprecedented when television writer/creator Rob Thomas and actress Kristen Bell took to Kickstarter. Thomas decided to try his hand at crowdfunding a film sequel to his critically acclaimed, cult hit TV show, Veronica Mars, which starred Bell in the title role. Unceremoniously canceled after its third season, fans of the show have been clamoring for closure to the series for some time now. After being frustrated by studio disinterest in funding such a project, Thomas decided to take it to the fans themselves. After shattering several Kickstarter records and achieving the necessary funding in less than ten hours, Warner Bros. finally decided to greenlight the film for distribution. So, having already made history, how does Veronica Mars, the film, stack up?

Veronica Mars picks up nine years after the events of season three of the television series. Mars is now a graduate of Columbia Law School, a frontrunner for a position at a prestigious law firm, and in a stable relationship with college friend Stosh “Piz” Piznarski. However, she is drawn back into her old life as an amateur detective when she learns that her high school ex, Logan Echolls, has been accused of murdering his girlfriend, another one of their high school classmates. Initially only agreeing to return in order to help Echolls choose the best possible legal counsel, it isn’t long before Mars is swept back into the corruption and intrigue of her affluent hometown of Neptune, Calif. But when the clues begin stacking up, and begin pointing to a variety of her old classmates, Mars is torn between stepping back into the life she is addicted to, and remaining firmly planted in a life that she has worked hard to earn.

For the Veronica Mars film, many of the television show’s actors have returned to reprise their roles. First and foremost is Bell, who, of course, plays Mars herself. Hot off of an excellent vocal performance alongside Idina Menzel in Disney’s smash hit Frozen, Bell seems right at home slipping back into the shoes of the amateur sleuth. Having never seen the show, I cannot compare anything from this film to it, and that includes the performances of the actors. With that said, it was very apparent to me that Bell was absolutely, 100 percent comfortable in this role; the feeling she gave me through her performance was one of someone who was slipping back into a well-worn pair of old shoes. The ease with which she delivered one-liners and witty retorts made the entire performance seem incredibly natural, and I could tell that this was a role Bell was born to play. Truly, watching Bell play this character was one of the primary joys of watching this film. And as someone who has never watched the show, her performance alone made me want to give it a try.

Most of the supporting cast did admirably in this film. Percy Daggs III and Tina Majorino as Mars’ childhood best friends brought exuberance to the film, but neither was given enough screen time to seem anything but ancillary. Meanwhile, Enrico Colantoni as Mars’ father brought a good mix of humor and warmth to his role, as he performed his fatherly duty of attempting to dissuade Mars from reentering her old life. Krysten Ritter portrays Gia Goodman, and does a solid job portraying a snobbish-but-vulnerable socialite. Finally, Jason Dohring reprises his role as love interest Logan Echolls. Now, I must reiterate that it is impossible for me to compare the film to the television show, but with that said, I did not feel like Dohring had enough chemistry with Bell in this film. It was apparent that some chemistry did exist, but it struck me as though Bell was doing most of the heavy lifting in this regard. Beyond this, Dohring acquitted himself well, albeit a bit blandly. Other actors reprising their roles performed admirably, but were not given enough screen time for me to warrant discussing them.

Series creator Thomas performs double duty as writer/director, with a script he co-wrote with Diane Ruggiero. Needless to say, Thomas and Ruggiero’s script seems to have definitely been targeting diehard Veronica Mars fans. Everything about the plot and its reintroduction of so many characters feels like a massive love letter to the fans that not only turned the television show into a cult classic, but also revived it in the form of this film. Packed with one-liners, sarcasm, and an overall very dry sense of humor, the writing in this film is sure to appeal to anyone who enjoys any of those things. I can only imagine that the film was stylistically very similar to the show, in regards to the humor; all the more reason for me to try out the show. Beyond the comedic elements, Veronica Mars told a light-but-edgy noir story that was very fun, and hearkened back to classic detective stories. If you’re a fan of character-driven crime thrillers, this very well may be a nice way to kill an hour and 45 minutes. In regards to direction, Thomas handles the job well, delivering the goods to hardcore fans and newcomers alike. Despite it’s relatively minuscule budget, Thomas works well within the constraints, giving the film a stylish vibe and making it look nicer than its budget belies. His approach to the film feels a lot like setting up a family (or in this case, class) reunion, and while this is obviously just a way to have members of the show’s cast make appearances, it can occasionally distract and detract from the film’s central mystery, as Mars gets bogged down in meet-and-greets with old classmates versus being out looking for clues. Still, hopefully Thomas gets to work on other film projects, as he definitely has to chops to do so.

On a technical level, Veronica Mars is serviceable. While Thomas did manage to make the film look good, it never really seems much more than a long, high-end episode of television. With that said, camerawork is solid, and the use of filters in certain scenes lends to the film’s noir vibes. Meanwhile, composer Josh Kramon was brought in to do the music for the film. This is significant due to the fact that Kramon was also the one who did the background music for the television show. With that said, it is likely that fans will find the film to have a similar sonic landscape to the beloved show which this film is based on.

First and foremost, Veronica Mars is an absolute love letter to fans of the show. The way characters are introduced and the overall tone of the film makes this very apparent. However, since I am not one of those fans, I can only take the film for what it is at face value. With that said, I did enjoy this film. I enjoyed the humor, I enjoyed the noir/crime thriller elements, and I very much enjoyed Bell’s portrayal of the sassy private investigator. I can only imagine that fans adored the film; for us newcomers, Veronica Mars represents a solid introduction to these characters and this world. Perhaps it’s time to log into Amazon Prime Instant Video and give the show a shot, bingewatch-style.

Posted in Features | Leave a comment

Women’s lacrosse takes Liberty League title

RPI IS HEADING to the NCAA tournament following League win.

On the weekend of May 2, the RPI women’s lacrosse team hosted the Liberty League Conference tournament, a two-day, four-team event. After coming from behind to defeat Vassar College in the semifinals on Saturday, RPI emerged victorious in the Liberty League Championship game against tri-city rival Union College, and earned an automatic bid in the NCAA Division III Tournament starting next weekend.

The tournament didn’t start well for the Engineers. After just five and a half minutes in to its semifinal matchup against Vassar, RPI trailed 2-0 after allowing a pair of unassisted goals to midfielder Phoebe Tzannes and attack woman Dara Davis. But RPI’s defense, comprised of junior goalie Erin Amarello and defenders senior Liz Powell, junior Lydia Wolter, and sophomore Maeve Conway, kept Vassar from scoring for the next 12 minutes of the half and kept the Engineers in the game.

Finally, with 12 minutes remaining in the first half, RPI got off the snide, as senior midfielder Marissa Page and sophomore attackwoman Mackenzie O’ Neil each sliced through the Vassar defense for goals.

Late in the half, Vassar regained the lead on a second Dara Davis goal and headed into halftime with a 3-2 lead.

RPI opened the second half playing with an inspired offense and defense. With just half a minute gone by in the half, RPI senior midfielder Meg Colitz scored to tie the score once more. The Engineers one mishap in the early goings of the second half then came one minute later when a momentary defensive breakdown allowed Vassar’s Julia Trudell to get an easy angle at the goal and give Vassar its final lead of the afternoon.

RPI took control of the ball on the following draw and skillfully moved it down the field. After a series of off line shots on goal, junior midfielder Jamie Wakefield gathered the ball and netted a bullet of a shot to tie the score at four. Less than 30 seconds later, with a series of crisp passes setting her up, Colitz managed her second goal of the game with 26:35 remaining to give RPI its first lead. Then, after a key save by Amarello, RPI cleared the ball and worked it into the Vassar zone for a third Colitz goal to make the score RPI 6, Vassar 4. Moments after Colitz’s goal, senior attackwoman Rachel Scofield forced a Vassar turnover, scooped the groundball, and passed it ahead. Once again, Colitz took control of the ball and passed it to junior attackwoman Erin Riley who bounced a shot past Vassar goalie Kate Pula to make it 7-4.

Then Vassar made its final push to take back control of the contest. A give-and-go move by Vassar’s Trudell and Sophia Rosetti resulted in Trudell’s second goal of the game. Two minutes later, an RPI foul gave Vassar a free position attempt and allowed Tzannes to score and bring Vassar to within one.

But that would be as close as Vassar would come, as RPI’s defense locked down on its own net and forced a number of turnovers and errant shots from the visiting team. Then, sophomore attackwoman Erin DeLucca started a scoring spurt that put Vassar out of reach in the final minutes of the game.

The championship game wasn’t nearly as competitive for RPI as the semifinal. An avalanche of RPI goals buried the Dutchmen before halftime as four Riley goals and two from Scofield gave the Engineers a 9-1 lead late in the first half.

In the second half, the Union Dutchmen made a desperate attempt to get back in the game, but it fell short as four goals from attackwoman Jackie Hagopian goals brought Union as close as it would come to a deficit of 12-8 with 12 and a half minutes remaining. Down the stretch, RPI’s defense once again stiffened and two more goals from Scofield and a goal from Wakefield to cap it off gave the Engineers a 15-8 victory and a Liberty League Conference title.

RPI will travel to Fredonia State University on Saturday to compete in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Posted in Sports | Leave a comment

Discussing excuse policy

GM works with Student Life Committee

Over this past year, the Student Life Committee worked on revisions to the excuse policy. They recently learned that most of their revisions passed through. We interviewed Grand Marshal Kyle Keraga ’15, former Student Life Committee Chair, regarding his old committee’s work and the new excuse policy.

The committee began working on the excuse policy after Student Health Center Director Leslie Lawrence spoke with Student Senate last fall. After working with many stakeholders around campus to come up with a better policy to reflect the needs of students and faculty alike, SLC brought a proposal before the Senate earlier this semester. The proposal passed and was then brought to the administration.

The significant change is that if the faculty member and student agrees, no documentation is needed for the excuse. Another large change is that health-related documentation is not required to come from the Health Center. The excuse policy wording also better reflects what is often done in practice; for example, how to submit an excuse. Over the summer when the 2014–2015 course catalog comes out, the new excuse policy will be included. Keraga noted that making a change like this sets a precedent for Senate and the student body as a whole. Only a few changes were made to the proposal.

Elizabeth: Explain to me the excuse policy changes.

Kyle: We approached these changes after we became aware of a large number of student concerns. It was hard for students who couldn’t reach campus to get an excuse, there was no flexibility when students couldn’t obtain proof in writing, and students could be denied by their professor without further input. We negotiated with RPI administration throughout the year and came up with a more student-friendly policy.

The new policy is much clearer defined and much more flexible. If students don’t have proof or can’t make it to campus, they can still get an excuse. Also students still have input into the final decision if professors disagree, by contacting Academy Hall if a professor denies an excuse, so the new process promotes a much fairer, trust-focused student-faculty relationship. It’s a bit of a breakthrough in terms of student rights—we haven’t been able to work directly on this sort of policy in years, and we were able to accomplish a lot.

Elizabeth: What changes did the administration make to Senate’s proposal?

Kyle:They moved a few sentences around but most of the process is intact and that’s what really matters. The only real change they took out that we’d like to see in there is a guarantee that a student with proof will be excused—that didn’t make it in, and it would have been nice, but with all the progress that has been made I think this is a great starting point.

Elizabeth: When will these changes go into effect?

Kyle: The catalog policy will go into effect over the summer as soon as the official catalog is updated. The only piece that isn’t going to take effect immediately is the online excuse submission, as that’s going to be dealt with through the Student Experience website—they’re looking at our proposal for the new website so it will depend how long it takes SE to finalize the new website language. We have been told that this feature is being implemented so at this point it’s just a matter of when.

Elizabeth: Any concluding statements?

Kyle: I want to thank the Student Life Committee as a lot of people worked hard on this project. I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish and glad I had the chance to lead such a great group.

Posted in News | Leave a comment
Editor’s Corner

The state of The Polytechnic

As a rule (well, sort of), the editor in chief writes editor’s corners a few times during their tenure. Traditionally, they’re once right at the beginning of their term, once at the end, and a few times in the middle. The middle ones are run around big events—like Homecoming & Reunion or the Accepted Students Celebration—or when students are about to pack up and leave for the summer or are just arriving on campus in the fall.

Because you’re smart and got accepted to RPI, you know which one of these this is. Also, by this point, you know what the EIC writes about: the state of the paper, for the most part. So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, here it is.

The staff of The Polytechnic elected me editor in chief in December. We were just wrapping up a semester of printing biweekly, and we were struggling with the knowledge that the Union had bailed us out on the order of low five-figures. For years, our advertising department had struggled to sell ads, and our business managers had struggled to fully collect.

I had a decision to make, and fast. I felt I had three choices, and one of them would not work. The latter was continuing to print biweekly, something which royally screwed up our ad clients and almost ended up being worse off than we had been. The remaining options were to either revert to printing our usual schedule, weekly, or to stop printing on newsprint altogether and switch to a purely-online format. Obviously, we chose number one.

We got our ducks in a row and made a plan for the rest of the school year. In short, we knew we needed to focus on visibility—the ads would fall into place. We worked on staffing, editors bringing in friends to help read copy and learn layout; we ever-so-slightly touched up our nameplate, making it easier on the eyes and a little more modern, and then we plastered campus with Concerto ads and stuffed papers under dorm room doors; and we took advantage of our location in the Union, creating a giant logo for our windows, complete with LED strips to light up the individual letters at night. Throughout this process, our readership rate on campus increased, to the benefit of our ads team.

Then we increased coverage and special features. We started reviewing more on-campus events than previous years, and we began to heavily cover sports. Every Senate meeting has had a Poly reporter at it, and we usually send a photographer too. We also published what we believe was a very well-received April Fools’ Day issue, containing not a drop of legitimate content.

Lastly—and quite unfortunately, if you ask me—we broke news of what is being considered the largest scandal in Rensselaer’s recent history, the so-called Postergate incidents, where Student Government officials were recorded, in a joint investigation between The Poly and RPI TV, removing posters supposedly opposing their viewpoints. This incident provided the RPI subreddit with the top post in its four-year history, with about 120 more points than the next-top post. It also made for the single largest day and week in The Poly website’s lifetime, having around twice the campus population check out the to-the-minute updates. All in all, it was a pretty crazy week for the paper.

In closing, the paper is doing much better. We’ve stopped the bleeding and have just about finished chest compressions to fully resuscitate. I’m pleased with what we’ve done this semester, and, while I can’t wait for a nice, relaxing summer break, I can’t wait to dive back in and continue next year.

As always, if you have any suggestions for us, please forward them to; we always are striving to improve every facet of the paper. Thank you for reading The Poly, and have a wonderful, safe, fun-filled summer! Don’t forget to put on that sunscreen!

Posted in Editorial/Opinion | Leave a comment

Game of Thrones rewards audience of all types

Television program deviates from books, for better and worse; not all HBO’s fault

DAENERYS TARGARYEN PREPARES her army for attack in the newest season of Game of Thrones . Targaryen represents just one section of the storyline of the series. Some characters battle for the Iron Throne, while others for survival.

Although we’re only halfway through season four of this great show, we are at the end of our school season, so I would be remiss not to mention the hit sensation on all televisions, Game of Thrones. Out of respect to those who want to watch, I’ll be sure not to include spoilers, but honestly, if you haven’t watched the show yet, you are missing something special. There is good reason that the show floods social media every week, and has led to half my friends calling me “Prince Joffrey,” because it’s a great show that everyone can watch. Why is this? Why does my brother, mother, and father all love this show when we can’t even agree where to go out and eat? What is it we love?

Game of Thrones features a wide variety of settings and characters, you’d be hard pressed to find at least one character you love. And it is especially tough loving all those characters, even when they can be at odds with each other. That is the show’s great strength, that you can agree with different ideologies and perspectives even when they are at odds. An example I’ll take early from the show is Tyrion Lannister and Catelyn Stark at the Eyrie. Both are strong characters that we root for, both have good reason to hate each other, but it is tough to see them at odds. The characters’ perspectives is something that transferred well from the books. In the novels, a chapter follows a single character’s perspective, while in the television series, each scene follows a group of characters, with some perspectives not seen in the books. While I enjoy the liberty taken from the series I can’t say all of it is good.

Personally, I didn’t even watch Game of Thrones until season two was released. I heard about the show and decided to forgo viewing the series until I finished the source material. That’s right, I plowed through the first two books before even beginning the show, and I’m happy I did. After starting the show concurrently with my reading of the third book, I realized how easy it was to transition from a book reader to a show viewer, but how difficult it would be to do the opposite. The show is like a straightforward version of the novels, all the red herring foreshadowing and incredibly detailed stories disappear. Mysteries are not allowed, if there is even a hint of who might have committed an act it will be fully shown in the next episode. This isn’t a bad thing, there’s nothing wrong with abridging such an incredibly long series, where there is an issue is in some of the creative license with the shortening. A character cannot even be subtly mentioned as a homosexual, if they’re gay they have to be doing overtly gay acts. If a person has to be tortured, everything has to be much more gruesome than it was in the books. I’m a fan of both the novels and show, but I must say that nuance isn’t the adaptation’s greatest strength, though I can get over that. What I can’t get over is the worst and most impossible to solve problem, the fans.

I pity anyone who hasn’t watched the newest episode or read the books, because trust me, everything important that happened on the newest episode will be posted all over the web. I know many of my friends have been frustrated to see a big pivotal moment being ruined by someone who assumes everyone’s caught up. I feel worse for some of my friends who don’t watch the show, it’s tough to even convince them to see it when they have a short mental list of half the people who have died. It’s impossible to get people to stop posting about the newest episode, so it’s a pretty unwinnable situation, though I think the show stands on its own without the huge plot points. The setting is rich, the dialogue is great, and the characters are powerfully portrayed. If you haven’t seen it yet and you have the willpower to shut off your social media once a week, do so. But, if you are a willing bookworm, and you want to mess with your show watching friends, you won’t be wrong to read the books first.

Posted in Features | Leave a comment

Multiple track and field competitors medal at state meet

Last Friday, May 2, both the RPI men’s and women’s varsity track and field teams, led by Head Coach Colin Tory, traveled to St. John Fisher College to compete in the NYSCTC Championships. The meet began on Friday night, and continued on Saturday morning. The decathlon/heptathlon took place on the preceding Sunday and Monday, April 27–28, at RIT. The meet consisted of 13 teams, all of which are Division III schools in New York.

The men’s team boasted four individual victories and an overall first place finish for the fourth consecutive year. They scored 162.5 points to defeat second place University of Rochester with 142 points and third place Ithaca College with 101. RPI won four individual events; two were on the track, and two were in the field. The men’s 4×400 team, comprised of senior Sam Ellis, junior Dylan Landry, freshman Ben Mason, and freshman Sam Waddell placed first in a time of 3:20.81. Sophomore Bobby Parker won the men’s 5000 meter handily in a time of 14:57.49, winning by almost 10 seconds and closing his final 400 meters in 58 seconds. Other highlight performances on the track included senior Aldous Strother in the steeplechase (third place), senior Alex Delaney in the 400 meter hurdles (second place), senior Sean Quinn and junior Jacob Andrews in the 10000 meter run (third and fourth places), freshman Benjamin Fazio in the 1500 meter run (fourth place), Landry in the 400 meters (fourth place), and Ellis in the decathlon (second place). On the field side, two throwers posted individual victories: sophomore Tyler Yeastedt won the discus with a throw of 46.23 meters, and senior Zac Borrelli won the shot put with a throw of 15.35 meters. Senior Zac Borrelli has been named the Liberty League men’s track & field field performer of the week for the fourth week in a row, following his performance at the state meet. Borrelli won the shot put, came in second in the discus, and fourth in the hammer throw. He also won all three events at the liberty league championships two weeks prior.

The women’s team placed fourth, scoring 84 points behind first place Ithaca with 166 points, second place St. Lawrence University with 152.5 points, and third place Rochester with 151.5 points. The women’s team was led by graduate student, Lydia Frangos, senior Ivy Muchuma, and senior Cheryl Tran. Muchuma placed second in both the discus and shot put, with throws of 40.61 meters and 12.27 meters respectively. Frangos placed third behind her teammate in the discus, with a throw of 37.31 meters. Tran placed second in the high jump with a jump of 1.58 meters.

Both teams will compete again at the ECAC championships on May 15–16, at the Harkness Track and Field. The meet is a regional NCAA championship for the top athletes in the northeast region. Many RPI athletes have qualified and will be competing; it is a great opportunity since it is not often that regional championship meets occur on our campus.

Posted in Sports | Leave a comment

Lithium batteries improve

Innovative materials remedy dendrite bug

Recently researched at Rensselaer, a new type of a battery is in the works, specifically, an all-carbon lithium battery. Current batteries in use, like the ones in cellphones, tablets, and laptops, are lithium-ion batteries. Lithium is a light metal, which is necessary in designing light, portable devices.

The basic structure of a lithium-ion battery has not changed much since 1991; the basic structure contains a source of lithium-cobalt oxide. When charging a battery, voltage is applied and breaks the bond between lithium and cobalt. The lithium diffuses across a barrier from the cathode to the anode. At the same time, electrons move from one side to the other. Once the battery is fully charged, it can be used. As a battery is discharged, the Lithium ions go from the anode to cathode and the electrons move, powering the device. For these types of batteries, lithium metal is not used, but rather lithium atoms bonded to cobalt on the cathode side and carbon on the anode side.

Dr. Nikhil Koratkar, a professor of engineering at RPI, looked at using lithium metal instead of lithium bonded to cobalt. The process would be exactly the same, yet without cobalt.

According to Koratkar, in the 1970s Exxon first tried to create an all lithium-carbon battery; however, there were major safety concerns. When the lithium diffuses across the barrier membrane from the anode to cathode (as the battery discharges), small, sharp structures, known as dendrites, are created on the cathode side when the lithium does not re-plate uniformly. The dendrites that form as a result from non-uniform bonding pierce the barrier between the cathode and anode side causing the battery to overheat, ignite, and fail. Due to the failure, lithium metal was not used, cobalt was added to the battery and the lithium ions would bond uniformly to the cobalt, thus preventing the dendrites and the failure that occurred because of them.

To fix the dendrite problem, Koratkar has been working on lithium batteries since 2009, first looking at using silicon. Recently, in 2012, Koratkar thought of another solution: thermally shocking graphene. When Koratkar and his team created thermal shocked graphene plates, they found the sheets had vacancies and large pores. These sheets differ from the tightly packed stacked graphite sheets normally used in lithium-ion batteries. The defect sites in the thermal shocked graphene sheets attracted the lithium because the defects were sites of high energy. The lithium wants to get there in order to lower the total energy of the system; as a result, lithium clusters form around the defect sites. Once a large number of lithium ions cluster in the sites, lithium metal is created. When checked for dendrites, Koratkar and his team found none. Koratkar believes that the chunks of lithium metal form are very small in volume, so small, that the do not form a dendrite or if they do form a dendrite, it is contained in the holes in the thermal shocked graphene plates. According to him, “The graphene acts a cage that restricts the dendrite and prevents it from breaking loose.”

Koratkar also found there to be high values of energy density, which means several things: the battery lasts longer and has the potential for a faster recharge rate. Furthermore, cobalt is no longer needed thus creating a non-toxic battery. This creates a lower cost, more environmentally friendly, higher energy battery. However, it will still be some time before these batteries will be seen on the market. The next step is to scale the battery up and see the effects and changes. Furthermore, the next process involves funding from investors. Still, Koratkar believes there should not be too many problems when scaling up and expects these batteries to be on the market someday.

Posted in News | Leave a comment
Editorial Notebook

One student’s parting words

As the 2013–2014 academic year swiftly comes to a close, my time at RPI goes with it. My time as an undergraduate here has been far quick, but I like to think that I’ve learned a lot and grown tremendously as a person. While 400 words certainly is not enough to convey everything that I’ve picked up over the past five years, it will be good enough to talk about some of the things I’ve picked up, as well as my sentiment towards RPI.

When I applied to RPI, I honestly don’t remember what was going through my mind. I had gone through the tours and accepted student days like most, but my choice to apply early decision reflected a gut feeling that I would enjoy RPI out of all the schools I visited. Now that I’ve finished my time here, not only am I glad that I came here, I can put in words what I felt when I visited during accepted students day.

What I like most about RPI is the sheer variety of people that I’ve met. While it’s true that many campuses across the country, I think it’s especially true here. Here at RPI, I’ve become friends with the “traditional” nerds, geeks, and gamers that people expect at a tech school. But beyond that, some of my closest friends have ranged from a programmer who plays hockey, to a track athlete who just went with me to PAX East. I know a capella singers to fraternity brothers who play D&D. I not only know engineers and programmers, but also artists and musicians. And where else can I meet someone who graduates a biomedical engineer but ends up in journalism for a career?

I also can’t deny the impact that The Poly had on my life and experience. Even though I haven’t been as involved for the past couple years, I was the photography editor for a couple years and almost the sole photographer for at least one. The Poly is what enabled me to meet all those people: many people know me from covering almost every event and many sports games on campus. In a sense, The Poly helped me achieve my goal with photography: go everywhere and meet as many people as possible. I owe The Poly more than can be conveyed in a notebook, so thanks guys.

Since college is about learning, this notebook wouldn’t be complete without mentioning some of the big lessons I’ve learned while being here. The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that asking for help and asking questions isn’t a sign of weakness. The right question can unlock the key to an assignment, and asking for help from a TA or your professor is great for not only learning, but also getting to know your professor. Knowing when to stop and take a B is also okay is something else I’ve picked up. A few extra points isn’t always worth losing sleep over and stressing over, sometimes what you have is good enough. I also learned, somewhat by accident, that forming a close group of friends is something every student should do. Not only is it great for just studying and suffering together, having that group works wonders for letting off steam.

While I can’t mention everything I’ve seen or done, I can say that I’ve enjoyed all of it. My time at RPI has been a journey filled with photography, people, and learning. I can safely say that I’m going to miss this school and the life I’ve led for the past five years dearly. I’m going to miss showing up to the Union late at night and just sitting down with a group of people to hack. I’m certainly going to miss the college lifestyle, and the random nights where you stay up to 3 am just talking with your roommates. But five years is almost too long, and it’s time to move on. See you, nerds.

Posted in Editorial/Opinion | Leave a comment

Sheer Idiocy show brings lots of laughs

Final show of the school year features games for the seniors for the audience’s benefit

On Friday, May 2, Sheer Idiocy had their last show of the semester. In this show, they introduced four new games: Category Die, Echo, LaRond, and Freeze Jump, all games they learned recently. Additionally, the troupe made up a game just for their graduating seniors, which was a clusterpuppy of six of their other games that they play; it was more for the group than the audience. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make the show that Friday, but luckily, thanks to RPI TV, I was able to watch it online. Lasting about two hours, the show entertained the audience with improvised games.

An act I really liked was Mundane Night Fun Time. Featuring Luke Jones ’15, Savannah Dalton ’14, Kevin Turner ’14, and Spencer Weiner ’17, the game features two commentators narrating a mundane activity like a sport; the audience picked studying as the topic. Turner and Weiner went ham on studying, vigorously going through their textbooks and stealing each others’ pencils, as Jones made play by play comments and instant replays. David Silverman ’14 stepped in as referee, calling a foul on Weiner for stealing Turner’s pencil lead. The whole situation made for a fun time.

Another game that I enjoyed was Backwards Forwards, which featured Turner and Clarissa Herman ’14. Their occupation was janitor and the premise is that the improvisers must be able to go backwards or forwards in the act when the host claps. Herman portrayed an overenthusiastic, excited character, while Turner contrasted with a sarcastic and overbearing personality.

One of my favorite acts was Objection, which Herman, Turner, Dalton, Jones, and Kienan Knight-Boehm ’17 participated in. In this game, a word is chosen and then the idiots debate over it. Jones started the group off talking about how bananas are versatile and can be used in smoothies or just be eaten. Then somehow, unicorns kept getting mentioned by both Knight-Boehm and Dalton. A funny pun was made when Jones criticized Herman for not having a point. After he was sustained, Turner interjected with a literal point of his own, with his hands above his head shaped like a point. This game was a blast to watch.

One of the last games they played was Pan Dub Pan Column/Interro-column/Two is a Column/That Darn Column/Sit-Stand-Column (now with more Kick It!), also known as the senior game. This game, made by the group, just for the seniors, is a mashup of six other games that they play during regular shows. Meant to be just for the troupe and extremely difficult, the game was still funny, in my opinion. There are way too many rules to it; you’re just going to have to watch it online.

The show was a great way to end the semester and if you missed it like me, have no fear, Sheer Idiocy isn’t going anywhere this coming year. Congratulations to Turner, Herman, and Dalton on their last show! To watch the show, visit

Posted in Features | Leave a comment

Softball hosts tournament, defeated in final game

FRESHMAN INFIELDER COURTNEY MCARTHUR SWINGS at an incoming pitch in a file photo from the April 27 game against Clarkson. RPI’s season ended Saturday versus RIT.

This past weekend, RPI women’s softball hosted the Liberty League conference tournament. The tournament followed a round-robin, double elimination format in which teams would continue to compete until three teams all had two losses and the fourth team became champion.

RPI faced fourth-seeded Skidmore College on Friday in its opening contest. Junior Kristina Weltzin pitched a complete game, three-hit, shutout as the Engineers dominated with a 6-0 win. Sophomore catcher Taylor Ten Eyck doubled in sophomore second basemen Danielle Balestrini and senior shortstop Tori Hunt in the first. Then, sophomore right fielder Morgan Ten Eyck followed with a double of her own to give RPI a 3-0 lead after one inning.

Later, in the fourth inning, freshman first baseman Courtney McArthur crushed the pitch over the left field wall for her third home run of the season to give the Engineers a four run edge. Then, in the sixth inning, she followed with a second home run, this time over the center field wall, to give RPI the six run lead it closed the game with.

RPI’s second game came against the third-seeded Union College Dutchmen, who were fresh off a comeback win over the second-seeded University of Rochester the previous afternoon. Union continued its momentum into the second game of the tournament, taking a 4-1 lead into RPI’s half of the sixth inning. But, RPI had slowly been getting comfortable against Union starting pitcher Alyssa Wolejko. After Hunt singled to left and advanced to second base on a wild pitch, junior third baseman Jena Servidone doubled to right to make the score Union 4, RPI 2. Then, with one out in the inning, M. Ten Eyck fouled off a number of good pitched before lining a single to left field and driving in Servidone.

In the top of the seventh, three Union singles resulted in a run that gave the Dutchmen a two-run cushion heading into the final half inning. To start the inning, senior pinch hitter Dani Grage grounded to second but Union’s Lindsay Cohen was unable to handle it and Grage reached on the error. Then, after junior center fielder Kathleen Baker pinch ran for Grage, freshman outfielder Morgan Kollmeier grounded to Wolejko, but a second error allowed Baker to advance to second and Kollmeier to reach first safely. Wolejko was on the brink of losing her composure, and all she needed was just one more pressurized play to push her over the edge. Balestrini knew what to do: she bunted. Wolejko scrambled to get the ball as Balestrini raced down the first base line. Without locking in on her target, Union’s ace picked up the ball and fired toward first, but the throw was off line and rolled well into foul territory. Before Union could get the ball back to her, RPI’s Baker had scored and the tying runner, Kollmeier, was standing on third base with no one out. Then, with Wolejko making sure to throw strikes in hopes of holding the lead, Servidone sent a high pop-up over the head of Union first baseman Kristin Schmidt, who ran back and caught the ball. RPI’s three base runners tried to tag-up and score but Kollmeier was thrown out at home to bring Union within one out of a zany 5-4 win. But, as she has all season, T. Ten Eyck delivered in the big moment. On a 2-1 pitch, T. Ten Eyck connected solidly and smashed the ball into the left centerfield gap, driving in the tying and winning runs to give RPI an exciting 6-5 walk-off win over rival Union College.

The next day, 2-0 RPI faced 1-1 University of Rochester for the title but struggled in both contests it played. In the first game the Engineers were unable to manage a base runner as Rochester’s Brittany Grage fired a five inning perfect game to lift the Yellowjackets over the Engineers by a score of 8-0. Then, in the second game, Rochester’s Eleni Wechsler pitched nearly as well, surrendering just three hits and giving up zero runs. The final score of the second game was the same as the first, 8-0. Not much went right for RPI on Sunday as none of the pitchers could find a rhythm against the hot bats of Rochester and the Engineers went a combined one-for-five with runners in scoring position.

Following the tournament, the Liberty League announced its awards. Six players from RPI were recognized. Three players, Weltzin, M. Ten Eyck, and Hunt were all named first Team Liberty League. Two players, Balestrini and Kollmeier, were named second team, and T. Ten Eyck rounded out the accolades, receiving honorable mention. Despite, its loss in the final game of the season, RPI softball had a great season, winning the regular season title in the Liberty League and finishing with a 24-18 record overall.

Posted in Sports | Leave a comment

String of thefts at Mueller Center raise concern

Seven cases of lost items near athletic facilities reported; investigation occurs

THERE HAVE BEEN seven cases of theft at athletic facilities since spring break, raising questions about security. Students are advised not to store valuables in unlocked lockers.

As of late, the Incident Blotter has seen many incidents of thefts in the athletic buildings. As early as March 13, there have been five reported cases concerning the loss of items near the Mueller Center with two other incidents at other athletic centers. In total, students have reported the loss of over $500, a cell phone, and a watch of unknown worth. All cases immediately were followed up by reports filed to Public Safety.

Most of the incidents were reported to be from unlocked lockers; none of them were reporter to be from secured lockers.

Public Safety acknowledges the severity of this problem and states that the affair is one of concern for its staff. Investigator Terry Burns states that the thefts are still under investigation, but progress is being made. The organization is hopeful that the progress they have made can be released sometime within the next week. The staff is working over the pieces of evidence that they have and will try to come to a conclusion and solution too. However, in light of these events, Public Safety recommends that the students leave their valuable positions within a safe and locked area while they are not attended. Burns recommends keeping anything of value within a dorm while one uses the facilities in order to never give criminals the chance for thievery.

Steve Allard, the coordinator of the Mueller Center, was available for comment on these crimes. Because the area in question is a shared space between the Mueller Center and the Armory, it is hard to monitor, stated Allard. As such, one of the coordinator’s summer projects will be working with Armory staff like Scott Sasenbury, the facilities operations manager, to help renovate this area. Allard admits that the cubbyholes and lockers are in poor shape and agrees with Public Safety’s advice to keep one’s valuables away from any unsafe and open areas while using the facilities.

Posted in News | Leave a comment
Top Hat

Executive committee approved; semester wrap up

Senate executives geared up for next year; finishing year right and bright future ahead for all

Hi, everyone! This Top Hat will be my final article of the academic year. Outside, the Troy weather has improved, classes are wrapping up — and as the summer takes hold, there’s a great deal for everyone to look forward to.

Within Student Government, the 45th Student Senate has selected the members of the Rensselaer Union Executive Board, as well as our entire Student Senate cabinet and leadership positions. Of particular note are the new committee chairmen: congratulations to chairmen Marcus Flowers ’16, Academic Affairs’, Michael Han ’16, Facilities and Services’, Melanie Todis ’17, Rules and Elections’, Gavin Noritsky ’16, Student Government Communications’, Lexi Rindone ’16, Student Life’, and Gabe Perez ‘16, Web Technologies Group, as well as everyone else who has received appointments.

Each of these leaders is a fantastic individual, with unique skills and a passion for improving student life. They bring a variety of perspectives to the table, both new and experienced. I’m confident that this will be a great year working together, and I’m excited to see where the Senate goes. If you’d like to work with any of them, I encourage you to reach out. You may contact Marcus at, Michael at, Melanie at, Gavin at, Lexi at, and Gabe at

Outside the Senate, it’s a busy time for all of us. With classes wrapped up, our focus has turned to final projects and exams. I want to wish everyone good luck in the last two weeks. Make sure to enjoy yourself and keep the stress levels low but take advantage of the study days this Thursday and Friday to get ahead and prepare for the exams.

There are a few end-of-semester events worth attending if you need a break. Tonight behind Commons, RSA will be hosting their annual showcase event, the Spring Fling, with food, games, performances, and more. During the study days, if you feel the need to relax, stop by the Mueller Center for their Stress Relief Days program. They host fitness classes, massage therapy, and a basketball tournament in the Armory. Finally, the Red & White Student Organization will be hosting their regular study days in the Heffner Alumni House. I encourage you to reserve a room or even just stop by if you need a stress-free environment to study.

Lastly, to everyone returning next year, enjoy the summer off; take excitement in whatever it is you do, be it an internship, research, summer classes, travel, or something else new and exciting! And when we return, be ready for another great year here. This year absolutely flew by, but there are more memories to create.

And to the Class of 2014, congratulations on your graduation, and good luck in the world out there! There’s so much you’ve accomplished here at Rensselaer, and so much more that waits beyond our walls. As you begin your career, don’t forget to stay in touch with us back here in Troy, but don’t hesitate to branch out. These friends and relationships you’ve built, and the memories and connections you’ve made here will last a lifetime, but there’s so much more in store.

The future is bright and great things are coming for all of us, returning students and rising alumni alike. To the members of the 45th Senate and our new appointees I’m excited to work with you on making those great things happen. To everyone else, enjoy your summer and your time off! And to our seniors, best of luck in everything you do.

If you’d like to contact me for any reason, you may of course email me at This semester has been one to remember, and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings. Thank you everyone, and have a great summer!

Posted in Editorial/Opinion | Leave a comment

Dance Club recital moves bodies and hearts

RPI Dance Club performs in a provocative recital at EMPAC; skill and talent showcased

On Saturday, May 3, the Dance Club held their annual recital in the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center. For two hours, members of the Dance Club performed to various musical numbers. Hip-hop, jazz, and ballet were among the dances. This was my first time attending a recital, although my friends on the Dance Club have been begging me to go for years!

Officers of the Dance Club include graduate student Katie Grabowski, Jenna Hastings ’15, Emily Lambert ’14, Kellyn Schiedegger ’15, and Carla Toland ’14. The five of them thanked their teachers, their publicity manager, and their stage manager following the performance of West Side Story. They also performed in some of the dances.

While I loved seeing the performances of my friends and fellow RPI students, I did notice some form errors that I felt detracted from the performances as a whole. Some of the choreography was a bit repetitive and simple, too; this may have been by design, though, because a lot of the choreography was pretty fabulous. Some of the numbers were definitely beautiful and complex, especially West Side Story. This number involved 17 students in a variety of brightly colored outfits that still seemed to go together. I have never seen the actual West Side Story, so I probably lost some of the meaning behind Dance Club’s rendition, but I still found it great. The costumes overall—not just for this number—were expressive and went with the dances well, I felt.

One of my favorite numbers of the recital was Miss Invisible. Lambert’s facial expressions were great in this number as well as the others she was in. Surf Crazy, another dance Lambert as well as Grabowski, Scheidegger, Toland, Megan Wart ’15, and Maureen White ’15, had excellent choreography and story. Heart on My Sleeve, a solo by White, was really quite beautiful. These and the rest of the numbers demonstrated the skill and variety of the RPI Dance Club members, who have trained all year for this event.

I would definitely recommend going to the Dance Club’s recital next year, or checking out their other events throughout the coming semester. I loved the variety of dances as well as seeing the talent of our fellow RPI students.

Posted in Features | Leave a comment

Baseball pushes season to additional game before loss

RPI finished its season this past weekend with three road games at Liberty League rival St. Lawrence University. After getting shut-out in the first game on Saturday, Rensselaer fought back to win the second game of the doubleheader. On Sunday afternoon, inconsistent pitching plagued the Engineers in the opening game, allowing the Saints to cruise to a 12-6 victory. Following the first game, heavy rain fell for the rest of the afternoon, canceling the second game of the doubleheader. Unfortunately for RPI, one win in three wasn’t enough to earn a berth in the Liberty League tournament as they finished in fifth place, one and a half games back from fourth-seeded Vassar College.

In the first game of the afternoon on Saturday, both pitchers put in great performances and the two teams combined for just five hits, two for RPI and three for St. Lawrence. The difference in the game was St. Lawrence’s ability to take advantage of Engineer errors. A single by St. Lawrence’s Mark Syron effectively became a double when an RPI throwing error allowed him to advance to second base. After a subsequent rain delay suspended play briefly, a two-out RBI single by Devin Robson gave the Saints a 1-0 lead. Later in the bottom of the sixth, Syron was hit by a pitch with one out. Then, a Khifer O’ Connor single to right field allowed Syron to score after an off line relay throw provided him the time he needed to run home from third base.

The second game proved to be a different story for RPI as sophomore starting pitcher Greg Echeverria threw a seven hit, one run complete game victory. Senior designated hitter Shane Matthews belted a two-run RBI double down the left field line to give the Engineers an early 2-0 win. Later, it was RPI’s turn to take advantage of a St. Lawrence error. Senior first baseman Andrew Kalish reached on a fielding error by Saints second baseman Bryan Palermo and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt to begin the second inning. Later, with two outs, junior third baseman Tim LeSuer drove in Kalish with a single to make it 3-0.

The fifth inning proved to be the last time either team would score as RPI senior second baseman Al Mersman doubled down the left field line to drive in Lesuer and junior shortstop Nick Palmiero to give RPI the 5-1 victory.

In the season finale on Sunday afternoon, RPI took a promising 5-1 lead into the fifth inning before the situation took a severe turn for the worst. In the top of the fifth, a quartet of Rensselaer pitchers surrendered eight runs on six walks and three hits. The Engineers never recovered. Three more runs from St. Lawrence in the sixth resulted in a subsequent 12-6 defeat for RPI. Despite the loss, several players performed well. Sophomore catcher Chris Holomakoff tallied two RBIs and one run on two hits. LeSuer accumulated three hits, one walk, and one run. Lastly, sophomore right fielder Nick Annunziata RBI doubled to start a three-run fourth inning rally and later scored a run of his own.

The Engineers finished the regular season with an overall record of 23-11 and a conference record of 12-9.

Posted in Sports | Leave a comment

Senate confirms commitee chairs, cabinet

GM’s appointments are brought to Senate to be discussed and confirmed

MORGAN SCHWEITZER DISCUSSES her background and why she was appointed to Parliamentarian.

On Monday, April 5, the 45th Student Senate had their last meeting of the semester. They met to amend the Senate by laws and approve the Grand Marshal’s appointments to cabinet and committee chairs.

The bylaws were amended to formalize the formation of joint committees, particularly the Senate Communications Group. Michael Han ’16 noted that only SCG was in the bylaw amendment, while the Union Annual Report and Web Technologies Group had been talked about earlier about them becoming joint committees. Shoshana Rubinstein ’16 said that the UAR has always been a joint committee. The amendment was passed 13-0.

Grand Marshal Kyle Keraga ’15 introduced each of his Senate cabinet appointees and let them talk a bit about themselves. Senators and others in the room asked questions before a vote was taken. Morgan Schweitzer ’16 was chosen for parliamentarian; Schweitzer is the Panhellenic Association senator. She said that she has known Robert’s Rules of Order since she was 10 and has been to international conferences representing RPI using Robert’s Rules.

Cody Kline ’16 was appointed to secretary. Kline has been in secretary positions before. She said that she is very organized and good at taking notes. Tyler Cowan ’16 was appointed to the Senate-Executive Board liaison position. Keraga explained that the Senate-E-board liaison chairs the UAR committee and makes sure both Senate and the E-Board stay in communication. Cowan was on the committee last year. He said he wanted to start work on the UAR earlier and advertise what the committee does. Cowan also wanted to make sure a good infographic went into the UAR.

Robert Dai ’16, treasurer appointee, has had a lot of treasurer experience including for his fraternity. Han, who was treasurer for 2013–2014, asked Dai if he knew about the change to a lump sum instead of each committee having its own budget, and how Dai would deal with that. Dai said he plans to keep track of expenses and which committees spend how much. Ethan Illfelder ’15 asked how much money Senate gets, to which Han replied is around $6,000 total. Most of that goes towards Hockey Line and the Rules and Elections commitee, according to Han. Tina Gilliland ’15 was appointed to vice chairmen. Keraga noted that she has been in Senate since freshmen elections in 2011 as well as committee chairmen of Facilities and Services comitee for 2013­–2014 and SCG the two years prior to that. He also said he felt that Gilliland would be a good counterbalance to his big ideas. All of the appointees were confirmed by the Senate, most of them unanimously.

The Senate committees included Academic Affairs Committee, FSC, GM Week, R&E, SCG, Student Life Committee, and WTG. Keraga noted that most of Senate’s work is done through these committees. Gabe Perez ’16 was appointed to WTG chairmen. Perez was chairmen of WTG last year and wanted to work on more projects, including MyRPI and Concerto. Rubinstein asked whether students wanted to continue using MyRPI, to which Perez said that there was “definitely an interest” and students were logging into their panel and some had sent him emails about it. Illfelder asked whether Flagship Docs would be updated, to which Perez replied that he didn’t know if WTG has the resources to do so. AAC chair appointee Marcus Flowers ’16 explained that he was vice chairmen of AAC last year and hopes to make the systems supporting classes better, especially for higher level courses. Lexi Rindone ’15, SLC chairmen appointee, was health services subcommittee leader last year.

The FSC chairmen appointee was Han, who was vice chairmen of FSC last year. He wanted to work on new projects such as water fountains that can fill up water bottles as well as continue work on old projects such as car sharing. Graduate student Mike Caiola asked whether car sharing was last year, to which Han replied that it was but that FSC would need to follow through. Currently, they are waiting on the administration to make a decision; if the proposal goes through, FSC would help with finding companies and publicizing to students. If the proposal does not, FSC could work on revisions and try again. Illfelder asked Han about the biggest issues FSC would be working on. Han said that there are lots of complaints and FSC would go through those and see what could be done. Definite projects include a subcommittee to work with Sodexo and another subcommittee working on a green revolving fund. Follow-ups to projects were stressed. After a lengthy discussion on whether or not the annual light walk should include indoor lights as well (currently, the idea is to find potentially unsafe areas along paths students frequent), the motion was called to question.

Gavin Noritsky ’16 was appointed to SCG chairmen. Noritsky talked about his leadership skills, including being president of Pi Kappa Alpha. He said that he likes to go out and communicate with people and felt that Senate had a gap and he wanted to solve that, starting with a short survey. He also wants to talk with other colleges’ student government and figure out how to reach out to more people. Rules and Elections Commitee chairmen appointee Melanie Todis ’17 was vice chairmen of RNE last year. She said that she knows how to run everything needed to run elections. Todis plans to ask the E-Board for money to buy an electronic voting system; if that does not work, she plans to talk to Rensselaer Center For Open Source software. Todis also hopes to make changes regarding postering rules for referenda.

Daniel Louchheim ’15 was appointed to GM Week chair. GM Week is considered a subcommittee of R&E and puts on all of the GM Week events. Louchheim was treasurer of the committee last year and plans to work on communication with clubs. Louchheim and the rest were all confirmed unanimously.

Keraga told the senators about upcoming happenings; changes to the Student Handbook will be worked on in the fall regarding sexual assault policy. Caiola also gave an update for Graduate Council. Graduate student Kristen Lee was elected president; Caiola, vice president. Graduate students Nick Thompson and Benjamin Walcott were elected treasurer and secretary, respectively.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Stress reduction during study days, finals week

Opportunities available across campus to end semester well with health in body, mind

Hey RPI, I hope you have had a wonderful last week of classes. It’s time for the final push before summer break!

As our time here at RPI winds down, it is the time for club officers to look forward to next year. Who will be in charge of setting up your table at the activities fair? For those who are new to office what questions do you have for your predecessor who may be graduating? Planning these things while you are still on campus makes it easier for you to ask for help, or gather your members to finalize your fall recruitment strategies. If you prepare and plan now your return in the fall will be far less stressful!

Now I know thoughts of summer and wishing for sunshine and warm weather is on everyone’s minds, but I hope you find time to study for your exams. For those of you who do, I hope you take advantage of the study days occurring at the Heffner Alumni House, hosted by Red & White. This weekend “the Heff,” as we lovingly call it, will be open so you can study for your finals while enjoying a pleasant atmosphere complete with free snacks and coffee. There will be tutors available for most intermediate level classes and study rooms available for reservation to be used by study groups throughout the day. If you and your friends are looking for a place to study be sure to stop by! The Heff will be open around the clock from 7 am on Saturday, May 10 to 3 am on Monday, May 12 to fulfill all your study needs.

For the times when you aren’t hunkered down studying, there are many finals week stress relieving activities going on in the Rensselaer Union, the Mueller Center, and across campus over the coming week. Whether your dream study break includes boxing classes, massages, petting puppies, playing basketball, a snack in the Clubhouse Pub, or yoga, there will be an activity for you to blow off some steam. Also, remember there are always councelors and health professionals in health center to help you manage your stress and make a study plan for the week ahead. Events are being advertised all over campus so be sure to keep a look out for that perfect study break.

I hope everyone enjoys their last days in Troy before the summer break.

I will be here for the next two weeks so if you have any questions, concerns, or just want to get involved, be sure to stop by my office or send me an email.

Posted in Editorial/Opinion | Leave a comment

Alumnus honored with Davies Medal

In honor of alumnus Clarence E. Davies, Class of 1914, the Rensselaer School of Engineering established the Davies Medal for Engineering Achievement in 1980. The medal is given to a recipient who has had an exceptional career in engineering, commitment to public service, and made outstanding technical and managerial accomplishments. This year, Nancy D. Fitzroy, Class of 1949, received the Davies Medal on May 5 in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies Auditorium. Part of the ceremony included comments from President Shirley Ann Jackson.

Fitzroy was the first woman to receive a degree in chemical engineering from Rensselaer, and worked at General Electric from 1950 until 1987. She is internationally recognized as a specialist in heat transfer and fluid flow. In 1986, Fitzroy became the first female president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Fitzroy earned the Demers Medal for outstanding service to Rensselaer in 1975, the Distinguished Service Award from the Alumni Association in 1996, and was inducted into the Rensselaer Alumni Hall of Fame in 1999. The Nancy Fitzroy Scholarship Fund, established by Fitzroy in 1979, encourages young women to pursue careers in science and technology, and continues to help female students attending RPI.

Jackson stated Fitzroy was worthy of the award, “Because [her] vision and leadership have contributed so much to the development of technology and its application in the field of heat transfer; because [she] have had such an impact as a powerful example and voice for engineering, particularly for women in engineering; and because [she exemplifies] what we mean at Rensselaer, when we say to our students, ‘Why not change the world?’ Rensselaer bestows upon [her] its highest honor in engineering achievement.” In addition to her achievements in her career, Fitzroy was also one of the first women to become a helicopter pilot.

After Jackson presented Fitzroy with the award, the two sat down and discussed Fitzroy’s life as a successful female engineer because she did not want to give a long speech. Fitzroy said that she always had “an insatiable curiosity” as a young child and that her parents gave her challenges to encourage her curiosity. Fitzroy stated that she actually didn’t want to go to college, but her parents forced her to go, with her assistant principal encouraging her to enter the engineering field. Speaking about her time at RPI, Fitzroy stated that her experience was “rather ordinary” and that she excelled in classes that involved hands-on learning.

The audience was then allowed to ask Fitzroy questions. One member asked who Fitzroy aspired to be like; she stated she wanted to be like Amelia Earhart because she flew airplanes and it looked like fun, which is what lead to her pursue becoming a pilot. Another member wondered if there was anything that Fitzroy would change about the education of future engineers. Fitzroy said that she likes how engineering is becoming more of an interdisciplinary field, rather than keeping the fields separate. She said that working in teams is what made being an engineer fun, and the idea of interdisciplinary engineering is necessary for a satisfactory result.

The ceremony ended with Jackson asking Fitzroy how she sees her legacy. Fitzroy laughed and said that she doesn’t think of herself as leaving a legacy, that she was “just doing [her] thing.” Jackson responded saying that is her legacy; she did her thing.

Posted in Features | Leave a comment

Rivals defeat Engineers in league tournament

FRESHMAN MIDFIELDER JAKE WEIDNER RUNS downfield in a file photo from Rensselaer’s game against Vassar March 22 at ECAV Stadium.

On Friday, May 2, the Engineers traveled to Schenectady to face, cross town rival, Union College in the first round of Liberty League tournament. RPI entered the game ranked third in the Liberty League while Union was ranked second. The Institute faced Union earlier in the season and had only suffered a one goal loss in an extremely tight game. RPI entered the match on a four game winning streak, their last loss coming from the Dutchmen on April 12.

As first quarter started you could witness the intense emotion and physicality from both teams. After five minutes of exchanged possession Union found the first goal of the game. However, RPI was responded quickly as freshman attackman Matt Hall scored three minutes later. The Dutchmen than came back on the offensive controlling possession for the next four minutes until they were found their second goal of the game. They remained on the offensive returning a minute later and scoring again. The Engineers struggled to maintain possession for the rest of the quarter but thankfully their defense was kept Union away from scoring.

RPI started the second quarter maintaining possession. But, unable to find the back of the net, the Dutchmen capitalized by scoring again to make the score 4-1. However, seeing the game slip away, the Institute was able to put together an offensive attack allowing for freshman midfielder Jack Weidner to score their second goal of the game. RPI took this momentum and created multiple scoring attempts; however, none were found the back of the net. The half ended with Union regaining possession and scoring their fifth goal of the game.

The third quarter turned out to be a lot of back and forth possessions. Although RPI was given the opportunities to score, they could not sneak one by the Dutchmen’s defense. However, Union was capitalized on two possessions scoring two more goals. The quarter ended with RPI finding themselves in whole, trailing 7-2.

The Engineers came out in the fourth quarter without the emotion and intensity that they showed at the beginning of the game. Union took advantage of RPI’s emotionless play scoring their final goal of the game eight minutes into the quarter. The only other goal of the game came from junior midfielder Casey Colligan with three minutes left in the game.

As final whistle blew RPI found themselves on the wrong side of the score board suffering an 8-2 loss to Union. The Dutchmen went on to face Rochester Institute of Technology for the Liberty League championship on May 4, but lost 13-11.

Although RPI was not able to find a win in the Liberty League tournament, this season with not go to waste as they showed how good they can be. The Engineers, having such a young team, have a lot to look forward to in the upcoming years. Showing such strong potential this season, the sky is the limit for what they can accomplish in the upcoming seasons. With a strong freshman class and dominant upperclassman returning the Engineers have to potential to put together an even more successful season next year.

Posted in Sports | Leave a comment
Letter to the Editor:

Cemetery cleanup

On behalf of the board of trustees, staff, our beloved volunteers, and our lot owners of Oakwood Cemetery, I wish to recognize with gratitude the Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity for its exemplary support of Oakwood Cemetery.

As some of you may know, in January of this year Oakwood was the victim of cruel vandalism in which over 100 monuments and memorial stones were overturned. Some were well over 125 years old. Thanks to the recent hard work of these men and women, all of these monuments have been reset and restored.

The efforts by this fraternity will never be forgotten and I can assure you that we are deeply, deeply grateful not only for this fraternity’s recent work but by all at RPI who have over the years helped make Oakwood Cemetery the National Treasure that it is.

Thomas O. Maggs

President, Board of Trustees

Posted in Editorial/Opinion | Leave a comment

Nickelodeon can’t satisfy demographic

Childhood channel can’t deliver to modern audiences; substance is missing for children

SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS PREMIERED in 1999 on Nickelodeon. Over its ongoing 15-year run, the franchise has generated more than $8 billion.

Olivia’s view

As weird as it sounds, TV played a pretty big role in my childhood. I grew up as an only child, and when I couldn’t go outside or play with my friends, I would sometimes turn to TV to keep me occupied. I believe that a good part of my ability to communicate with others and deal with particular social situations stems from the shows that I watched when I was young. I didn’t think much of the impact that TV had on me when I was a child until I was around my niece and nephew when they were growing up. I would watch their shows with them, usually on Nickelodeon, and it was then that I realized the network had fallen and its fall was impacting my niece and nephew’s personalities. The content of the shows were being reflected in their social and communication skills. I could only imagine the influence that the changes in shows were affecting children everywhere.

I’m not sure if the change in Nickelodeon came as a result of a change in our overall society or if it was just something that happened. The first thing that comes to mind when comparing shows from the late 90s and early 2000s is the lack of sexual undertone that now exists in current programming, particularly in the live action shows. I have re-watched some of the classics, including All That, The Amanda Show, and Kenan & Kel, and then watched some of the new shows like iCarly, Big Time Rush, and Victorious. The jokes have gone from mostly innocent comedy to jokes that are almost always related to something sexual. I just don’t think that it’s right for us to be exposing our children to sexual comedy so young. It makes for kids who become uneducated about sexuality and unsure how to respect themselves.

Even when the newer shows make jokes that I don’t find sexual, they aren’t even that funny. I still laugh so hard when I watch Kel Mitchell make a fool out of himself as dim-witted yet charming Ed from the Good Burger skit in All That. It just goes to show that regardless of the age of the audience, characters can still be funny without being cheesy and unrealistic.

In my opinion, cartoons should always be the top priority for a children’s network. Cartoons are playful and appealing to children of any age, and can serve as a tool to nurture children’s imaginations and how they communicate. Nickelodeon’s big thing when I was growing up were Nicktoons. They still call the animated shows that are aired Nicktoons, but they are not even close to being worthy of the title. Original Nicktoons like Rugrats and Doug addressed some heavy issues that children could face, such as encountering others who have different religions and how to deal with having a first crush. The shows confronted important things that kids need to understand while making them entertaining and engaging. Then there were other animated shows that were just plain creative and fun, like Catdog and Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. The cartoons that they show currently are actually stupid. Even the shows that started off in the late nineties and early 2000s have changed their comedy style. I was really disappointed when I watched a newer episode of Spongebob Squarepants. There is no real storyline; things just happen and they’re supposed to be funny.

Maybe I’m overly critical or biased, but I can’t bring myself to enjoy anything that Nickelodeon produces anymore. Maybe it’s the way that children are being raised in today’s society and Nickelodeon is just accommodating their audience. I’m disappointed and feel sorry that kids today can’t enjoy TV and actually gain some life lessons and social skills like I did.

Geoff’s view

Know when I say this, that I truly mean it. I love old Nickelodeon. I don’t just mean early Spongebob Squarepants, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, or other late nineties–early 2000s cartoons. While I do enjoy those, I consider myself a bit of a snob when it comes to Nickelodeon shows. I used to borrow my cousin’s dvd of the entirety of The Adventures of Pete and Pete, watch reruns of The Ren & Stimpy Show, and tune in after school for old episodes of Legends of the Hidden Temple (go team green monkeys). At the beginning of the nineties, Nickelodeon hit a gold mine with a trove of amazing shows, and with this momentum, they put out some incredibly memorable shows. I try to think of myself as a child at heart, and also in body, since I still get carded at movie theatres, but recently, I was scared that maybe I am becoming a jaded adult when I watch new Nickelodeon cartoons, because I just don’t like them. Even Spongebob, one of the flagship series for the channel, has lost its sheen. I thought I was alone on this, but after having a serious talk with an eight-year-old on the issue, my feelings were assuaged, he too thought Nickelodeon, as he put it, sucked.

So, what makes these new shows so bad? In all honesty, the programming is similar to what we used to enjoy, a blend of animated and live dramas. However, I think that might be part of the problem. Their programming is just so unoriginal. Their animated shows, Penguins of Madagascar, Legend of Korra, and Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness are all spin-offs of successful intellectual properties. Even their newest live action drama, Sam & Cat, is a spin-off of both iCarly and Victorious. Their original and long lasting animated series, Spongebob and The Fairly OddParents, have also seemed to lose their steam after more than 15 seasons. I’ve just found the programs to be so dry and trite, it’s a chore to even sit through an episode of a show on Nickelodeon. The shows are too safe, too unwilling to push a button or, heaven forbid, challenge the young viewers.

One thing everyone can agree on when it comes to earlier Nickelodeon shows, they weren’t your normal children’s shows. Rocket Power featured young kids doing action sports, Catdog had an unlikely pair of animals set as siamese twins, and Are You Afraid of the Dark? had horror stories. None of these would be shown today on Nickelodeon. Rocket Power inspired me to get active, but wouldn’t it be terrible if a child got hurt trying to imitate the cartoon stunts? Catdog deepened my appreciation for my brother, but wouldn’t it fracture the audience who dislike the stereotypes of cats and dogs in the show? And Are You Afraid of the Dark? made me love horror, but couldn’t a child get too scared of the characters? Each of these shows played an important role in shaping the person I am now, but unfortunately, their content isn’t foam padded like every toy a child today should be playing with. But that isn’t right. We need to be pushed out of our comfort zone, especially in places like entertainment where the main role should be social teaching. I stepped on a few Legos during my childhood, but that didn’t provoke me to get rid of them; instead, I learned to put my Legos away when I wasn’t using them. We learn a lot from a little discomfort, and it’s unfair that children today don’t get this from Nickelodeon.

But that doesn’t mean these shows don’t exist. I think in many ways, Cartoon Network with two of their newer shows, Adventure Time and Regular Show, continue this tradition. The eight-year-old mentioned previously, my little cousin, would sit and watch these two shows for hours. And, guess what, I did too. These shows bring back the dark and creepy that shows like Aaahh!!! Real Monsters had while also delivering the light hearted and strange humor that The Ren & Stimpy Show was known for. They picked up the mantle where Nickelodeon left off, delivering the shows children really need, and want. You see, kids don’t want to watch safe television, they want something that challenges them; that’s what we wanted and what we still want today through more mature programs. Until Nickelodeon realizes they need to step up their game, we’ll just keep changing the channel.

Posted in Features | Leave a comment