Jeffrey M. Friedman
In 1994, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s legacy of innovation leapt into the realm of medical breakthroughs as one of its esteemed alumni, Jeffrey M. Friedman, Class of 1977, unveiled the discovery of Leptin. This ground-breaking find unravelled the mystery behind the hormone that plays a critical role in regulating body weight, a pioneering stride in understanding obesity and potential pathways to its management. As Rensselaer cherishes 200 years of educational and research prowess, the beacon of Friedman’s discovery shines bright, embodying the spirit of advancing knowledge to tackle humanity’s pressing challenges. This momentous discovery, etched in the annals of Rensselaer, underscores the profound impact its alumni continue to manifest in a world ever in need of scientific enlightenment and innovative solutions.
- February 27, 1994
Women's Ice Hockey Team
On February 27, 1994, a momentous event became a cornerstone in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s legacy of excellence. The Women’s Ice Hockey Team did more than just skate to victory; they made RPI history by clinching the AWCHA National Club Championship, a feat no other RPI women’s team had accomplished. By vanquishing Maine 3-1 in a skillfully executed game, they lifted the profile of women’s athletics at RPI to unparalleled levels.
This watershed win served as a turning point. Within two short years, the team was elevated from club status to compete at the NCAA Division III level, and eventually advanced to Division I competition, redefining what it means for RPI women to excel. This landmark achievement transcended the game itself, contributing to a broader initiative for gender equality in RPI’s athletic community.
- September 24, 1999
Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson
On September 24, 1999, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) reached a landmark moment in its 200-year history. Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson was inaugurated as the 18th President, becoming the first woman and the first African American to helm the institution. This wasn’t just a first for RPI—it was a game-changing shift that echoed beyond its campus walls. A physicist and policy leader, Dr. Jackson was no stranger to breaking barriers. Her appointment signified RPI’s commitment to diversity as an engine for innovation. Under her leadership, the institute not only rose in academic rankings but also focused on making STEM fields more inclusive. Dr. Jackson’s presidency symbolized an RPI ready to evolve, expanding its global relevance and embracing a future where diversity is key to innovation. Her research and experiments paved the way for the creation of fiber optic cables, touch-tone telephones, caller ID and call waiting.