Welcome to The SoE First-Year Advising Hub

The School of Engineering Advising Hub is the primary source of academic advising for all Engineering students during their first year at Rensselaer.  The Hub is located in the Ansell lounge on the third floor of the Jonsson Engineering Center (JEC) and is staffed by experienced advisors who will offer academic support for all engineering majors. Hub advisors assist students to determine their unique academic path through Rensselaer while fulfilling all their degree requirements. 

What’s your plan? During your second semester, we will work with you to create a 4-Year Plan. This will prepare you for the transition to your faculty advisor as a sophomore and for The Arch. For more resources and tools to help develop your course planning, visit your 4-Year Plan.

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What kind of help can I find at the Hub?

The Hub is a resource for all advising purposes including:

  • 4-Year Plan and semester course planning
  • Annual, required Student Advisor Meeting (SAM)
  • Major and minor declaration or changes
  • Registrar protocol and form approvals
  • The Arch and study abroad planning
  • HASS and other course requirements

Class of 2024, start here with The Hidden Curriculum!

Important Links! Check out these important links to support your curriculum planning and academics.

Why do I have a Hub Advisor and a Faculty Advisor?

The Advising Hub will offer academic support to students through their first year. At the start of their sophomore year, students will transition to a faculty advisor specific to the student’s major.  The faculty advisor will then contribute to the student’s academic success by offering valuable perspective on internships, research, graduate school and job prospects in addition to graduation requirements.

When can I come to the Hub?

Hours: Weekdays, 9 a.m. to noon, 1 to 4 p.m.

Appointments: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday

  • 20-minutes, one-on-one with your advisor

Walk-Ins: Walk-In Wednesdays

  • No appointment necessary
  • 5 to 10 minutes for quick questions


Meet the Team

Marie Dieffenbach

Marie Dieffenbach

Manager, Student Services
Advises Class of 2024: Aeronautical and Nuclear Engineering

Marie Dieffenbach has been advising undergraduate engineering students at RPI for the past 15 years. Originally from Staten Island NY, Marie came to the Capital District for college, met her husband on move-in day, and never looked back. She enjoys music, kayaking, and completely dominating her Tour de France Fantasy league. Marie and her husband Mark have a grown son and daughter-in-law who live in Seattle and they share their 1821 farmhouse in the Mohawk valley with their two cats, Bubs and Squeaks.

Phone: (518) 276-2255
E-mail: dieffm@rpi.edu

Kristin Bergene

Kristin Bergene

Senior Student Services Administrator
Advises Class of 2024: Undeclared Engineering

With a background in career counseling, Kristin brings the importance of professional development into her academic advising conversations. She earned an Master’s degree in London, where she lived and worked for nearly 2-years. After traveling to 13 countries, Kristin is now back in Central New York, close to family, and motivated by her advising career in higher education. At home with her two kittens, Axl and Gaia, Kristin relaxes with a pen in hand - writing and illustrating.

Phone: (518) 276-8137
E-mail: bergek@rpi.edu

Karen Lewis

Karen Lewis

Senior Student Services Administrator
Advises Class of 2024: Civil, Environmental, and Mechanical Engineering

Karen Lewis joined the SoE Hub in its inaugural year after advising the undergraduate students in the MANE department for 3 years. Previous to her ambitions in academia, she worked across the street at Samaritan Hospital as their pharmaceutical purchasing agent for over a decade. Originally from Long Island, Karen decided to switch things up by moving to rural Rensselaer county, where she enjoys gardening, cooking, hiking, and skiing with her husband and young daughter.

Phone: (518) 276-6995
E-mail: phelak@rpi.edu

Cara Elena Natale

Cara Leath

Senior Student Services Administrator
Advises Class of 2024: Electrical, Computer, and Systems, and Materials Engineering

Cara joined the Engineering Advising Hub after spending two years as a graduate student advising students in Clemson University's College of Business. During her time at Clemson, she completed her Master's degree in Student Affairs. After growing up in Westchester county, she is thrilled to be back in New York and living in downtown Troy with her husband. Cara loves to spend time with her husband, friends, and family by exploring new restaurants, playing board games and video games, and participating in trivia nights.

Phone: (518) 276-6669
E-mail: natalc2@rpi.edu

Valerie Swenson

Valerie Swenson

Senior Student Services Administrator
Advises Class of 2024: Biomedical, Chemical, and Industrial and Management Engineering

Valerie has been with Rensselaer since April 2016. Valerie worked in the Core Engineering office prior to her move across the hall to the SoE Hub 2.0. She holds a Master’s degree in Educational Administration and Policy Studies from the University at Albany. Valerie is originally from the Syracuse, New York area and is now a proud resident of Downtown Troy. Her interests include traveling, Troy, and coffee.

Phone: (518) 276-2683
E-mail: swensv@rpi.edu