Trustee Nancy Mueller hosts Bay Area luncheon

RPI alumni, students, faculty, incoming freshmen look toward future

On Saturday, June 4, Rensselaer Board of Trustees member Nancy Mueller opened her home to alumni of Rensselaer, returning students, and accepted incoming freshmen. She hosted this event in her home in Palo Alto, California, in the form of a business casual luncheon. Before the meal was served and the official announcements were made, students and alumni had a chance to mingle and exchange “war stories” of attending RPI. It was also an opportune time for students to network and expand their occupational horizons.

Mueller gave a gracious welcome to her guests and after lunch introduced speaker and Dean of Engineering Professor Shekhar Garde. Garde took this opportunity to update the alumni on all the great things happening on campus. Especially noteworthy, Garde announced that RPI would be anticipating its largest incoming freshman class as well as an applicant pool of over 18,500. He noted the talent and initiative already present among the Class of 2020’s students.

After a brief and unofficial poll, Garde was able to gauge the female population here at RPI during the ‘60s and ‘70s from the present alumni. It was sparse with classes’ female population peaking under 10. However, as of this summer, there are over a thousand women enrolled in RPI’s undergraduate program, with some 30 percent making up the engineering student body. Garde stressed the significance of this change in balance and said that it would result in a more successful and high quality school.

For the incoming students, Garde expanded on the things students should expect to encounter. The Summer Arch program’s second pilot class year is the Class of 2020. According to Garde, Summer Arch will give students a chance to open up one of their semesters for studying abroad and co-ops by spending a summer semester on campus between sophomore and junior year. According to many alumni Garde interviewed, their co-ops and internships were the most forming and teaching of experiences.

Garde also went into detail about the types of “creativity” taking place on campus. Being a tech school, students are more geared towards science and mathematics. A new program, Art X, is coming to campus soon with the intent of promoting the “exploration of science in art and art in science.” Garde explains that this new boost in creative classes stems from the student body’s culture. He remarks that during his time, students were mostly looking for a good job, and finds many students still have that primary goal. However, he deems this new generation of students more idealistic, motivated by grander ideas to “change the world.”

The event finished off with the incoming freshmen introducing themselves, followed closely behind by the recurring students. As every year, the recurring students offered the incoming a few tips to survive RPI. The vast majority of the advice was to explore beyond the confines of one’s room and one’s routine. A student of the Class of 2017 advised to “slow down and appreciate every moment; while you can graduate with nothing but a degree, it’d be a shame.”

The event finished with a farewell from Mueller and thanks from her guests.