Henry B. Nason
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: 200 Years of Recognizing and Documenting Innovation and Leadership
In 1887, Henry B. Nason, esteemed Professor of Natural Science and Chemistry, accomplished a milestone that would forever alter the way Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute celebrates its community. Nason compiled the Biographical Record of the Officers and Graduates of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1824-1886— the first-ever compendium featuring biographies of RPI alumni, faculty, and administrators.
This pioneering work was more than a collection of names and achievements; it was a testament to RPI’s 200-year commitment to fostering academic brilliance and leadership. Nason’s record served as an enduring monument, immortalizing the accomplishments of RPI’s trailblazers for posterity.
As we bask in our bicentennial glory, Nason’s landmark ‘first’ stands as a tribute to our relentless pursuit of excellence and our undying dedication to shaping leaders who change the world.
Palmer C. Ricketts
In 1892, a dawn of groundbreaking transformation arose at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with the ascension of Palmer C. Ricketts, an illustrious alumnus from the Class of 1875, as its 9th President. Under Ricketts’ visionary helm, the Institute flourished, unveiling a picturesque ‘green-roofed’ campus that now stood as an emblem of scholastic serenity. His indelible leadership catalyzed a monumental surge in enrollment, amplifying RPI’s academic resonance across the nation. Further embellishing RPI’s educational tableau, Ricketts introduced a plethora of new degree programs and inaugurated a graduate school, pioneering a realm of advanced academia. His era not only elevated the Institute’s pedagogical stature but also etched a remarkable chapter in RPI’s 200-year illustrious narrative.
Today, as we traverse RPI’s sprawling campus, every leaf whispers the saga of Ricketts’ transformative legacy, reminiscent of a time when the foundations for RPI’s future as a citadel of learning and innovation were robustly laid.
George Washington Gale Ferris Jr.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Celebrating 200 Years of Innovation, One Revolution at a Time
In 1893, George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., Class of 1881, unveiled a marvel of engineering that would become an American cultural icon: the original Ferris Wheel. First showcased at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Ferris’ groundbreaking invention captured the imagination of a nation and earned a perpetual spot in history.
This was no ordinary feat; it was an engineering marvel that encapsulated RPI’s 200-year-long tradition of pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Ferris not only brought joy to millions but also redefined the capabilities of structural engineering.
As we commemorate our bicentennial, Ferris’ iconic ‘first’ spins as a tribute to RPI’s legacy: a legacy of pioneering minds, transforming not just the landscape of American entertainment, but also inspiring endless possibilities in the realms of science and technology.
- May 20th, 1893
On the notable day of May 20th, 1893, a ripple of innovation stirred the waters as the steamship Manitou, crafted by the ingenious hands of W. Irving Babcock, a distinguished alumnus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Class of 1878, was launched. This moment was not just a testament to Babcock’s adeptness but a historic emblem in RPI’s 200-year odyssey. The Manitou’s launch delineated the convergence of visionary thinking with engineering prowess, quintessentially representing RPI’s longstanding tradition of nurturing trailblazers. This event further bolstered RPI’s repute as an incubator of adept minds capable of navigating uncharted terrains, leaving wakes of ingenuity. As the Manitou elegantly glided over the waters, it symbolically ushered an era where Rensselaer’s learned alumni embarked on journeys of impactful explorations. In the grand tapestry of RPI’s history, the narrative of the steamship Manitou and its illustrious creator, stands as a cherished chapter, reflective of RPI’s undying spirit of inquiry and invention.