Rensselaer Alumni Magazine - Summer 2010 - (Page 56)
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A fantastic Rensselaer experience opens many doors |
BY WILLIAM SIOK ’69
departments which I ing history. AS AN RPI FRESHMAN, I WAS DETERcould easily have taken Later dispersed, the mined to major in aeronautical or audited without owing Geology Department’s engineering. The U.S. was on its additional tuition. What mineral and fossil collecway to the moon, science fiction is it about youth that it tion was displayed in a was tangibly converting to reality, would turn down such a small library on the lowand I wanted to be a part of the gift presented on a silver est level of West Hall. technical community making all platter!? The room had actually this happen. What impresses the been an operating theImagine my consternation when most is the overall qualater, and subsequently I discovered early on that one of ity of the education was used as a gymnasium my freshman classmates had received at RPI then and before its rebirth as a already been designing and buildnow, and its quantum library and museum. The ing rockets, telemetry systems, leaps in prestige among James Hall Geology Club fuels, etc., while in a high school the elite engineering uniwas created and its headscience club. My experience conversities in the U.S. A quarters were located in sisted of reading Arthur C. Clarke testament to the quality the north anteroom to and other science fiction writers of an RPI education is the geology library. A few who fed my vision and enthusiasm the fact that upon gradof us undergrads installed for space exploration. I recall meetuation, unable to find a a discarded couch, chairs, ing my classmate in a lab (located position in geology (the etc., and settled in to this in the Ricketts Building) and there energy market was dark cubbyhole to visit displayed before me were elements depressed), I was immeand study. We all dreadof a project in which he was diately hired by a local ed having to climb the engaged to construct a functionschool district to teach hill to the main campus ing rocket. A small library on the lowest level of West Hall served as the earth science. My essenfor our chemistry, math, It was immediately apparent to headquarters for the James Hall Geology Club. tial qualifications conand physics instruction. me that if I applied myself, worked sisted of my newly minted B.S. influential in shaping all my subseOf course, there were humordiligently, and could count on a bit degree from RPI! (I subsequently quent professional endeavors. The ous moments. There was a colof good fortune I might, after havearned an M.S. and worked as a caliber of my professors was excepleague who used snowshoes on ing earned at minimum a master’s consultant in hydrogeology.) tional. These were true experts, campus when Troy received three degree in aeronautical engineerI’ll always be proud of the Instimany were outstanding teachers, inches of snow; there were the field ing, be an equal to my fellow freshtute, the good memories, the exceland some went out of their man. I knew then that it lent education, and the opportuway to help struggling or falwas time to rethink my The caliber of my professors was exceptional. nities my RPI degree has brought tering undergraduates to choice of professions. These were true experts, many were outstandmy way. “make the grade.” I fondly A colleague who undering teachers, and some went out of their way recall Dr. Samuel Katz as stood my interests suggestto help struggling or faltering undergraduates William Siok ’69, CPG, is executive such a teacher and a truly ed that I explore either civil to “make the grade.” director of the American Institute of fine gentleman. engineering or geology. I Professional Geologists. In March he If I have one regret about decided upon geology and and P. Patrick Leahy, Ph.D. ’79, formy years at RPI, it’s that I did not mapping exercises in the Catskills have never regretted the choice. mer head of the U.S. Geological Suravail myself of the myriad opporaccompanied by drenching rainfall The Geology Department (as it vey, visited the Department of Earth tunities presented me. The sucand mosquitoes; there were the was then known) was located in and Environmental Sciences to parcessful fulfillment of degree requireeffects of excessive caffeine tablet the very bowels of West Hall. It ticipate in a seminar with faculty and ments was accomplished, but there use on nights before final exams. seemed a suitable place for us geolstudents. were additional courses in various My experiences at RPI were ogists and of course has a fascinatKYLE GRACEY
56 RENSSELAER/SUMMER 2010
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rensselaer Alumni Magazine - Summer 2010
Rensselaer Alumni Magazine - Summer 2010
Creating a Lasting Impression
Preserving Our Past
One Last Thing
Rensselaer Alumni Magazine - Summer 2010