Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

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New York City Holiday Reception hosted by the Rensselaer Greater New York Executive Council

Category: Regional
December, 2019
CORE: Club, Library
Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Good evening, and happy holidays! I would like to thank Mr. Roy Davis ’78 for his introduction, and for his service as a member of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees, and Co-Chair of the Rensselaer Greater New York Executive Council. 

I too would like to thank Mr. Carl de Stefanis of the great Class of 1976 for opening the doors to this unique and stunning club for this evening’s reception.

I would like to thank all of our members of the Rensselaer Greater New York Executive Council for setting the pace and lighting the way toward more meaningful engagement opportunities for Rensselaer alumni, alumnae, and parents in the region. 

Allow me to share some examples of the exceptional work of the Greater New York Executive Council. Last January, I joined the Executive Council to host a panel discussion on The Risks and Rewards of Investing in Startups, which was held at the historic India House, where Mr. bud Lowenthal is a member.

Professor Dordick moderated the discussion, and both Mr. Lowenthal and Mr. de Stefanis participated in the panel, together with Mr. Marc Weiss of the Class of 1989, founding partner and chief investment officer of Open Field Capital, and New York City native and Rensselaer Trustee Mr. Jackson Tai of the Class of 1972, who is a non-executive director at numerous companies, including HSBC Holdings PLC, Eli Lilly and Company, and Mastercard Incorporated.

In April, the Executive Council hosted a Presidential Global Game Changers Panel at the Lotos Club, graciously sponsored by the Honorable Judge Stone. There, before a standing-room-only audience of alumni, alumnae, and parents, I moderated an engaging discussion on The Future of Blockchain. The panelists included:

  • Dr. Sadia Halim, who is Managing Director and Head of CIB Americas Innovation at BNP Paribas, and a member of the Lally School of Management Leadership Council;
  • Dr. Todd Mitty of the Classes of 1986 and 1987, Chief Technology Officer at LionTree LLC;
  • Mr. Peter Memon of the Class of 1989, who is with us this evening. Mr. Memon is the Founder of Invenio, a fintech firm focused on artificial intelligence-generated equity research; and
  • Mr. Jeffrey Stewart of the Class of 1991, who also has joined us tonight. Mr. Stewart is the founder and chairman of LenddoEFL, Managing Director of Global Public Offering Fund, and the 2014 recipient of the William F. Glaser ’53 Rensselaer Entrepreneur of the Year award.

In June, Roy and Louise Davis hosted a wonderful garden party at their lovely home in New Jersey in support of the Council. In August, the Council hosted a networking reception at the Larchmont Yacht Club in Westchester, attended by more than 60 alumni, alumnae, and parents.

The event was sponsored by Mr. Jim Holland of the Class of 1989 and co-hosted by Dr. Dordick, who provided an update on the Institute, and Mr. Philip Bruce, Director of the Center for Career and Professional Development, who spoke about The Arch, and the wide range of “away” placements for our fall cohort of juniors.

One week later, Mr. Stewart generously hosted a networking reception for Council members and guests at his rooftop apartment in the East Village.

Taken together, these thought leadership and networking events are helping to raise the profile of Rensselaer in the region. They also are contributing to a more vibrant and engaged community committed to supporting each other and the university.

I am truly grateful to our members of the Executive Council for their generous commitment of time, energy, and resources in support of Rensselaer, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Council to further elevate the Rensselaer brand, and build an even more robust network in the New Year.

If you are interested in joining the Executive Council, I invite you to connect with our Rensselaer colleagues in Institute Advancement, who are here with us this evening. They are: Ms. Deborah Chesky; Ms. Paula Tabor; Ms. Ursula Vesala; Mr. Drew Babitts; Mr. Patrick Campolieta; and Mr. Joe Strodel.

Let me take a moment to emphasize three great opportunities before Rensselaer today — opportunities we are seizing, which will anchor our presence in New York City, and our impact globally.

The first opportunity is with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, with which we already have collaborations that are stimulating the development of new technologies to radically improve the diagnosis and treatment of human disease. We now are in the process of moving forward a Joint Center on Engineering and Precision Medicine — here in New York City on the Mount Sinai campus. This joint center, the first of its kind in the nation, leverages the combined expertise of Mount Sinai and Rensselaer in medicine and engineering. The Center is predicated on the fact that engineering and engineering science are fundamental to understanding basic biomedical phenomena and associated therapeutic interventions. This center will be unique due to its dual focus on research and education, the interrelationships between biomedical research and engineering, and spanning the molecular to human dimensions.

Under the Center, we will establish a joint research institute and a joint Ph.D. program, in New York City.

Rensselaer also has one of the top-ranked schools of architecture in the nation, as well as the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology, or CASE, which is located in Brooklyn, in Industry City.

CASE is specifically focused on radically changing the way we use energy, water, and other resources in our built environment.

CASE is considering intelligent planning for overall urban design in light of new technologies employing big data and artificial intelligence, such as shared autonomous vehicles and other autonomous systems, which may open up new greenspaces — and a movement away from a centrally managed energy infrastructure, toward autonomous buildings that use renewable energy to meet their own needs.

Therefore, the second key opportunity is our new Institute for Energy, the Built Environment, and Smart Systems (EBESS), anchored by CASE, which will partner with our own School of Engineering and the Brooklyn Law School. We already have structured an MOU with the Brooklyn Law School, with the expectation that joint work will begin in 2020.

EBESS will expand on the work of CASE by envisioning and designing the urban environment of the future from the perspectives of true integrated planning and integrated, autonomously intelligent systems. These systems range from fixed structures to transportation and other aspects of mobility, to communication networks, to the impact of all of this on human health and welfare, within the overall sociopolitical context.

Both the Rensselaer-Mount Sinai Center and the Institute for Energy, the Built Environment, and Smart Systems (EBESS) will be formally launched in the New Year: EBESS in Spring 2020, and the Rensselaer Mount Sinai Center in Fall 2020. These efforts will be undergirded by a new research and graduate division at Rensselaer — DAIC (Data, AI, and Computation) which builds on our current and expanding initiatives in Data Analytics (through IDEA, the Data-Incite Lab, and the data dexterity requirement), in AI/ML (through the AIRC — a long-term partnership with IBM), and with the advent of AiMOS. AiMOS is our new data-centric, AI-enabled, high performance computation system, which recently placed 24th on the list of the world’s top 500 supercomputers, and 3rd in the world on the Green500 list. Once again, we have the most powerful supercomputer at a U.S. private university. These strengths allow us to strike out in key research domains as a top-tier, world-class technological research university with global reach and global impact.

We look forward to your advocacy and support (including the development of an endowment for the Rensselaer-Mount Sinai Center), as we move forward with a major presence in New York City, in domains of expertise and knowledge critical to our country, and to the world.

We are doing this, even as we continue to build the transformative Arch program for our undergraduate students. Arch is an acceleration of the beginning of the junior year into the post-sophomore summer to allow students to have an extended professional growth experience away from the campus during a traditional junior semester and beyond. I thank you deeply for your great help in placing our Arch students, and we look forward to your continued support.

I appreciate the opportunity to share these updates with you, as we celebrate the joyous holiday season.