A Conversation with the President

Segment #15 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Now let’s meet someone who not only went to RPI but is also the university’s 19th president, Marty Schmidt. This week I had the pleasure of meeting up with President Schmidt, and we talked about everything from his days as a student to some of the most beloved activities and traditions on campus. We even got to meet Puckman. Let’s take a look. So you were a student here, now you’re back as president. How awesome is that and what’s that feel like?

– It’s unbelievable. I mean, RPI had a transformative impact on me. I benefited from that with a great career. And to be able to come back here, particularly at this moment in time. 200 years ago, this institution was founded in an area that was exploding with innovation and activity. And I feel that energy today, that innovation and activity that’s occurring. And to be able to be part of that and to lead this institution forward, it’s just amazing.

– Ah, that’s fantastic. You mentioned the renaissance happening here, and you can see it, you can feel it. It seems like there’s so many companies not just moving here, but being start up and being grown from here.

– It is an amazing time. It’s really exciting. I like to say we’re in the talent business. We wanna bring really bright people here, provide them with an education. But what’s changed is it’s now possible for them to stay in the region and convert those ideas to impact right in downtown Troy and in the capital region, creating new companies, participating in innovation. And then they come back and they tell us some of the problems they’re having. We work on those as research problems that produce new graduates, and they do the same, and it just creates this evergreen cycle. So it’s a really exciting time here.

– I mean, it’s a beautiful thing to see. It’s really cool. So we’ve been here all week and one thing we’ve heard from so many students is how much fun they also have outside the classroom.

– Oh, it’s so true. The energy, the excitement they bring to the classroom, they also bring it to all their extracurricular activities. Whether they’re building a motor vehicle from scratch or participating in athletics, 80% of our students get involved in clubs, intramurals or varsity sports.

– That’s unbelievable.

– It is. And let me show you something that’s really special about RPI. Hey, Puckman! That’s our awesome mascot.

– Oh, that’s great.

– So Alex, you see the banners up there?

– Yeah.

– RPI won the nationals 1954, 1985. I’m not gonna retire until there’s another one up there.

– Oh, I love it. Thank you so much for showing us around. What a special institution you have here.

– It’s great, it’s great.

– It’s amazing to hear about what RPI was like when you were a student, and what it’s like now. I can’t believe all the opportunities that RPI students have both on campus and in the local region. Marty, thank you so much for spending time with the college tour. That was really cool.

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