I would like to extend to all you of my warmest welcome!
My name is José Holguín-Veras, the William H. Hart Professor of Rational and Technical Mechanics (yes, that funny sounding name is the title of my position, which was created more than a hundred years ago), and the Director of the Center for Infrastructure, Transportation, and the Environment (CITE).
I am originally from the Dominican Republic and a proud member of the Hispanic and African American community at Rensselaer.
I consider myself a citizen of the world and truly believe we all could benefit from the immense cultural variety that we enjoy on Planet Earth.
Many faculty members are like me in that regard.
-Dr. José Holguín-Veras,
William H. Hart Professor of Rational and Technical Mechanics
I want to speak to you about why I think Rensselaer—and particularly its prestigious School of Engineering—is the best vehicle to fulfill your dreams. In doing so, I will explain the profession that is Engineering, and the work that engineers do: we make modern life possible.
If you have doubts about that statement, I challenge you to take, at this very moment, a 360 degree view around. You would notice that, almost all the things you see, touch, and use—the computer you are using to read this, the desk you use, the building you call home, the food you buy at the supermarket, the medicine you use, the water that you drink, the streets and transportation that facilitate your travel, etc. etc. etc. — has been in one way or another the work of engineers.
This is so because engineers design and build: our communication systems, the transportation systems that bring us food and water, automobiles, airplanes, manufacturing plants, electronic devices, systems that power our cities, the buildings where human activity take places, dams used for irrigation, bridges that span mighty rivers, and much, much more. Simply, engineers shape the landscape of our beautiful world.
All these important activities take place at one or more of the seven outstanding departments in the School of Engineering.
The faculty, myself included, are truly committed to the betterment of all our African American and Latino students.
As Professor, CITE Director, Co-Chair of the Faculty Diversity Committee, Vice-President of the Faculty Senate, and Faculty Advisor of the student chapter of theSociety of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)-
I can testify to the commitment both the Institute and the School of Engineering place on helping minority students achieve their dreams.
There are several on-campus student clubs and organizations committed to the exchange and preservation of our unique cultural features. The largest of these clubs arethe Black Students Alliance (BSA) and Alianza Latina (AL).
Both provide bi-weekly meetings where members are engaged through the use of ice breakers, fun social games, contests, history lessons, and cultural spotlights.
Cultural clubs and minority-focused fraternities and sororities host many large campus events, like the fashion show, cultural pride night, poetry competition, pageants, and forums for open dialogue on local and national issues. Black History Month and Latino Heritage Month are the most active times of the year.
I am profoundly proud that minority students organize and lead one of the most important activities on campus: the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)/Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Career Fair.
It is the most important recruitment venue for all students at Rensselaer and is regularly attended by hundreds of companies looking to hire our students.
This important service—which has been NSBE's and SHPE's responsibility for more than 30 years!—provides minority students with the opportunity to develop and enhance leadership skills that employers value highly.
Equally important, the revenue generated by the Career Fair supports NSBE's and SHPE's commitment to the academic and professional development of Rensselaer's minority community.
As part of this commitment, NSBE and SHPE offer academic scholarships, highly subsidized trips to professional conferences, weekly study jams, company sponsored workshops, and many other social activities, all for the benefit of Latino and African American students.
In essence, students help students grow.
There are plenty of opportunities to both socialize and be involved in the minority community at large.
Rensselaer is located at the center of the Albany metropolitan area, the second largest in New York State with nearly one million residents.
Reflecting our commitment to help our friends, our chapters and culture clubs proactively seek collaborations with the minority community in the Albany area to help them address their problems.
Academics is the top priority at Rensselaer, as it is at the front and center of the students' personal growth. There are numerous programs to help you succeed.
These include the programs in our Advising and Learning Assistance Center, which is open from 9am to 5pm, but has specific tutoring and review classes available at other times, our residential deans, a faculty advisor, and many other programs designed to enrich your academic experience.
One of my truly favorite initiatives is the Undergraduate Research Program (URP). This fantastic program provides students with the opportunity to participate, either for cash or credit, in the research activities conducted by our outstanding faculty. Not only do they gain valuable knowledge and research experience but, they often establish close relations with their faculty research advisor. Many advisors often become life-long mentors.
In closing, I want to let you know that both the School of Engineering faculty and I take our responsibilities very seriously. We know how important your career is for you and your family. We know of the numerous sacrifices that minority families make to send sons and daughters—frequently the first ones to attend college—to Rensselaer, in the hopes of building a successful future.
Rest assured, I am fully confident in the School of Engineering's ability to ensure that your dreams and aspirations come true. We are fully committed to the betterment of students and look forward to helping you achieve your dreams.
William H. Hart Professor of Rational and Technical Mechanics
Director of the Center for Infrastructure, Transportation, and the Environment (CITE)