Rensselaer students are very fortunate to have access to a number of facilities which can aid them in forming a startup company. These include, but are not limited to, some of the finest research facilities in the world, access to market funding opportunities through the Severino Center, and a driven student body. The only thing that is missing is accessibility and affordability, which are critical component in many projects.
At the moment, Rensselaer offers free access to machinery through facilities in the Jonsson Engineering Center as well as 3D printing services, but both require that students pay for supplies benefiting independent projects. Costs, however, can quickly add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. As a full-time college student, it can be difficult to cover such costs, and finding an investor for a project that students cannot even afford to prototype is nearly impossible.
We, the Editorial Board of The Poly, would like to see more done in terms of supplying students with fundraising opportunities to exclusively aid in rapid prototyping, as well as providing new facilities in which students can tinker, outside of class, and potentially create the next product that will change the way we live—the next Google, the next Microsoft, the next Starbucks.
Recently, President Shirley Ann Jackson voiced her desire to graduate the next disruptive innovator that will do just that and we feel that this can only be accomplished through introducing funding for personal technical projects. Our peer institutions, including MIT and Case Western Reserve University, have long offered these opportunities to students where entire buildings and facilities are dedicated for encouraging personal projects and business endeavors by undergraduate students. Recently, the Executive Board recognized the RPI Forge makerspace, a progressive move to encourage these disruptive projects, but would like more support from the Institute on this matter.