Monthly Archives: July 2017

Full issue: July 17, 2017

The Rensselaer Polytechnic July 17, 2017

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RESEARCH

GLASE center to improve greenhouse industry

On June 1, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo joined Washington Governor Jay Inslee and California Governor Jerry Brown in creating the United States Climate Alliance-a group of states that are committed to upholding the Paris Agreement following President Donald Trump's pledged departure from the deal. The goals of the accords include reducing emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels and limiting the average increase of global temperatures to two degrees celsius by 2030. Read more...

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EDITORIAL NOTEBOOKS

Python: utilitarian language for everyday life

Programming languages like Python are powerful, yet simple for side projects, professional work

Hey guys, I hope your summers are going well! It’s always great to write a notebook for The Poly, but I have to say that this one is particularly special. First because I have writer’s block and second because I’ve really learned a lot this summer. Read more...

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OFF-CAMPUS EVENT

Memories of Thiers ’99 aids student pilots

On April 29, the RPI Flying Club hosted its sixth annual Thiers Memorial Fly-in & Car Show at the Empire State Aerosciences Museum in Glenville, New York. The Fly-in & Car Show, created in memory of Lawrence Thiers ’99, collected donations for the Thiers Fund in honor of their former president who passed before graduation. This fund supports RPI Flying Club members’ private pilot licenses as well as the annual representation of RPI in NIFA SAFECON. The event did not fall short of remembering a fellow RPI Flying Club member, with an abundance of vehicles and an attendance of thousands including RPI students, RPI alumni, and members of the upstate New York community. Attracting aviation and car enthusiasts in the area, the event showcased six aircrafts, two helicopters, and more than 100 cars. Read more...

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HOCKEY

Changes coming for women’s, men’s hockey

The Rensselaer men’s and women’s hockey teams will be facing major changes in the upcoming season. Both teams will be entering the season with new coaches: the men’s team with head coach Dave Smith, and the women’s team with interim head coach Bryan Vines. The men’s team is also facing a large change in its roster in the upcoming season, with nine new players joining the team. Read more...

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FINANCES

Standard & Poor’s downgrades RPI’s credit rating to BBB+

On January 5, 2017, Standard and Poor's downgraded Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's long-term and underlying debt ratings. S&P, one of the "Big Three" credit rating agencies, discloses credit ratings for the debt of public and private entities. The highest credit rating on the S&P scale is defined as "AAA," while "CCC" is considered vulnerable to non-repayment.
The last time S&P revised RPI's credit rating was in 2014 when the Institute's fiscal outlook was revised to negative, but remained stable at an "A-." The most recent revision downgraded RPI's credit rating to "BBB+." According to S&P, the rating category "exhibits adequate protection parameters," but "adverse economic conditions or changing circumstances are more likely to lead to a weakened capacity" for RPI to meet its financial commitments to debt issuers. As of May 27, 2017, S&P considers RPI's fiscal outlook to be stable.
According to financial documents obtained by The Poly, RPI's long-term debt was $742.37 million as of June 30, 2016, a decrease of roughly one percent from $749.43 million in 2015. In that same time frame, RPI's total liabilities grew by roughly 1.4 percent from $1.048 billion to $1.062 billion. Net assets, concurrently, fell to their lowest point in the past five years to $373.4 million from $443.7 million the prior year, a decrease of 15.8 percent. Net assets and the endowment were negatively impacted by a decline in interest rates and flat investment performance, which led to a negative return on the endowment.
The strain on the Institute's finances is also partially due to RPI's minimum pension liability, which rose from $118 million to $154 million, an increase of 30.5 percent. The total value of the defined pension plan liability was $329 million in 2015, rising by 13.4 percent to $373 million in 2016.
Regardless of Rensselaer's current financial status, the Institute is currently far from unable to pay off its debt obligations. Increased enrollment and the upcoming implementation of the Summer Arch program will likely have a long-term and significant impact on the Institute's finances. It is currently unclear if enrollment figures will be impacted by the addition of the Excelsior Scholarship, a tuition award for in-state residents attending public schools which eliminates tuition expenses for those with a household income below $100,000 per year. Rensselaer, along with two thirds of New York's private universities, recently chose not to adopt the Enhanced Tuition Award, which would have granted a subsidized tuition-discount of $6,000 for in-state residents equivalent to the value of the Excelsior Scholarship.
President Shirley Ann Jackson is planning to launch a transformative capital campaign on October 13, 2017 specifically focused on student aid and faculty resources. Rensselaer's last capital campaign, called "Renaissance at Rensselaer," began in 2004 and surpassed its goal of raising over $1.4 billion nearly nine months before the targeted end of the campaign.
The last capital campaign led to immense changes on campus with the construction of the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, the first phase of the East Campus Athletic Village construction, and the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies. Rensselaer was also able to hire more than 300 professors since 1999 while steadily increasing enrollment, bringing the student-faculty ratio from 18:1 in Fall 1999 to 13:1 in Fall 2016. Read more...

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Editorial Notebook

Arguing for refreshing worn-out, overdone news cycle

The news—fake or real news—it’s always around us. I’ve tried reading up on more articles, but it’s become too difficult. Read more...

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MOVIE REVIEW

Ambiguity, confusion result in psychological horrors

As a budding horror movie fan, I tend to judge movies by their covers. I look at movie posters, and if the poster entices me, or if I’ve heard good things about the movie, I usually sit down and watch it. It Comes At Night was a different story for me, as I had never heard of it and had pretty much zero knowledge as to what it was about. All I knew was the title, and from that I inferred that somewhere, at some time, something would appear, probably in the evening or at night. Surprisingly, I was wrong. Read more...

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STAFF EDITORIAL

Advice for incoming freshmen

Many of us here at The Poly remember how overwhelming it felt to be a freshman, and after reflecting on our experiences, we have gathered a few bits of advice we wish we knew before we came to Rensselaer. Read more...

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MOVIE REVIEW

Renewed hope for DC Comics

Wonder Woman, Warner Bros. Pictures’ latest superhero movie, was released last month, transforming it from a long-awaited retelling of the superhero’s origin story for comic book fans, to a pop culture sensation thriving off of word-of-mouth recommendations. The movie illustrates Wonder Woman’s rise to prominence in the midst of World War I, but it also proves to be a journey of discovery for all. Longtime fans can rediscover the universe in live action, newcomers can familiarize themselves with her backstory, and even Diana—Wonder Woman herself—can embark on a daunting first adventure in the human world that leads to both self-discovery and worldly understanding. Read more...

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TOP HAT

Summer updates, work continues during break

GM provides updates on summer committee projects, encourages students to consider joining

Happy summer! First off, welcome to the Class of 2021! My name is Justin Etzine, and I’m the current Grand Marshal, which is RPI’s student body president and chief officer of the Union. As you arrive on campus for orientation, and then for Navigating Rensselaer and Beyond in August, I hope you feel the same excitement that I did; if you’re feeling nervous, that is completely normal, and I’m sure that nervousness will be replaced with thrill as the semester begins. Read more...

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PODCAST REVIEW

Exciting economics

I was pondering ways of starting this podcast review, devising a way to convey how a podcast about economics is one I actually look forward to listening to. I think Planet Money’s about page sums it up: “Imagine you could call up a friend and say, ‘Meet me at the bar and tell me what’s going on with the economy.’ Now imagine that’s actually a fun evening. That’s what we’re going for at Planet Money.” I’m going to tell you right away, I took Economics I, and it turns out I didn’t like it that much. Planet Money, though, I like. Read more...

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DERBY

PU provides insight into his freshman experience

Rensselaer Union, clubs play major role in making the most of your time at Rensselaer

Hello everyone, and happy summer! I hope that you are all enjoying the warm weather, because we all know that it doesn’t last very long once we all return to campus. Summer is a great time for students all across the Institute to relax, to get valuable job experience, and to spend time with friends and family. I wish you all the best and cannot wait to see everyone refreshed once you all return to campus! Read more...

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Ask Brookelyn

Ask Brookelyn: July 17, 2017

I’m an only child who’s never had to share a room, and I’m living in Barton Hall with two roommates. Do you have any advice for sharing a room with people?

Having a good experience with your roommates will require all of you to communicate and be considerate toward one another. Since you’ve never shared a room with anyone else, some of your habits might piss off your roommates. Go through your daily routine at home and try to identify these, since I’ll just be covering the basics. Read more...

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Gallery: People of Pride

Photos: Brookelyn Parslow/The Polytechnic

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