weR fosters RPI spirit, unity, student involvement; weR Gold funds projects

Brings alumni, student clubs, organizations together; ESW biofuel plant,

weR GOLD IS A PROJECT OF weR: THE SPIRIT OF RENSSELAER SOCIETY THAT HELPS student organizations obtain alumni funding.

In 2011, Brian Nock ’13 founded weR: The Spirit of Rensselaer Society. According to Alumni Relations Program Administrator Nicholas Fortune ’13, weR strives “to foster school spirit as an inherent and exciting part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute by promoting student involvement, support, and unity through unique programming that embraces the existing culture.” weR includes several different programs, including weR Gold, which funds projects using alumni donations.

Other events that are part of weR include weR BRIGHT, weR PROUD, weR SLIMED, weR INSPIRED, weR FROZEN, weR SWAGGER, and events for RPI birthdays. According to Fortune, weR BRIGHT lights the campus up with Christmas lights. weR SLIMED is a game show, with slime, usually held during Navigating Rensselaer and Beyond week. weR INSPIRED, Fortune says, is to “increase and gain recognition for student and alumni giving and the impact it has on campus.” During Grand Marshal Week, weR Proud takes photos of students in RPI attire or “whatever gear they are proud of to show their own school spirit.”

Started in 2013, weR Gold was formed for the purpose of attracting young alumni to donate money directly to the clubs and organizations they were passionate about while at Rensselaer. Before weR Gold, it was difficult to attract young alumni donors. But with the addition of weR Gold, clubs and organizations that partake in the program will receive the necessary funding they need. Instead of focusing on the institution, weR Gold focuses on specific projects. Past projects included “RPI Players,” “RPI Clothes Closet,” “Engineers Without Borders,” and “Embedded Hardware Club,” all of which received full funding. In order for a project to be chosen, the club fills out an application detailing their project and their need for funding.

Once the committee chooses the projects, the club or organization seeks out past alumni, via social networking, and directs the donors to the weR Gold website where donating to a specific project or group of projects is only a click away.

This year, there are eight new projects looking for donations. Clubs and organizations whose projects are getting funding include RPI Crew, Ballroom Dance Club, Engineers for a Sustainable World, WRPI, Rensselaer Electric Vehicle, and UPAC are some examples of projects working towards their goals. One club, Pep Band, has already received full funding.

The projects that weR Gold is funding this year encompass a diverse set of projects from several different clubs. RPI Crew is using the money raised through weR Gold to buy two new ergometers. Rensselaer’s chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers obtained weR Gold funding to use towards buying speakers. Pep Band’s project, which has been fully funded, was for more sousaphone bell covers. ESW is using the money for a biofuel plant. RPI Ballroom hopes to replace the floor of the room they practice in.

Elizabeth Castro ’16 of RPI Crew explains that “Ergs, or indoor rowing simulators, are one of the most important components to strengthening and developing the form of rowers throughout the winter seasons when the Hudson River freezes over.” Because the crew team has more members than it used to, it needs more ergs. They hope that weR Gold will help them reach RPI crew alumni. Castro also explained that the Rensselaer Crew Club has existed since 1987 and that additional ergs will help the team continue to improve.

The RPI Ballroom Club is trying to get $15,000 through weR Gold to use towards a new floor for the Student Activities Room in Academy Hall; according to Ballroom Club Fundraising Chair Susan Bivone ’14, the Executive Board will fund the rest of the project if the weR Gold goal is met. Bivone noted that “Much of the damage to the floor includes deep scratches, heavy water damage from flooding, protruding nails and screws, missing pieces, and gaps in the floor creating dangerous tripping hazards. The quality of the floor greatly hinders our advanced level team members and is also damaging to the dance shoes that many members of the club also wear.”

Ray Parker ’16, who heads up ESW’s biofuel project, explained that “weR Gold will help us to obtain required resources for project success include funding for renovations and materials for the plant site. Materials include, but are not limited to, piping, product storage tanks, lab equipment to characterize the biodiesel product (hydrometer, titration equipment to determine FFA content, etc.), raw materials such as methanol and sodium hydroxide, bases for the pumps, concrete containment area, valves, two 300-gallon conical bottom bulk storage tanks with supports, filter bags, and a 450 gallon polyethylene waste vegetable oil storage tank.” The biofuel project was started in 2006 but never completed. Parker has taken over the project and has plans to implement it. Members of ESW have talked with Sodexo, local businesses, and Terra Cafe about using used oil from them as a source to make the biofuel. Parker notes that “few students have the opportunity to apply their engineering and chemical engineering knowledge to practical applications” as they are in the biofuel project and that it has significant educational merit. Biofuel made from the production plant will “generate approximately 100 gallons biodiesel fuel per week to supply the Rensselaer campus shuttles.”

weR programs, including weR Gold, will continue to show RPI pride and spirit. weR Gold connects alumni donors with student projects that need funding to continue to improve RPI.