Gerhardt speaks with Senate reps

Posted on October 30, 2013 by Nick Seguljic, Staff Reporter

At its weekly body general meeting on Monday, October 29, the Student Senate, as always, had a laundry list of items to discuss and debate. However, this time, it welcomed Lester Gerhardt, Vice President of the Faculty Senate to speak. Gerhardt is an active member of the Faculty Senate and professor of the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering.

Gerhardt has been at Rensselaer for over forty years and is still going strong. An avid intellectual, he has published extensive research in his field and he has mentored several students that have published meaningful work as well. His participation in the field is equally as impressive, as he aided in the creation of the visual simulation of the first moon landing of the Lunar Excursion Module.

More recently, he has set his sights on serving the student body. As mentioned before, he is an active member of the Faculty Senate. At the meeting, he stated that he wished for more involvement between the Student and Faculty Senates in upcoming events and organizing RPI’s academics, research, and wellbeing of students. He claims his door is always open for students to come and talk with him, and that all professors should be equally as welcoming. Given his position in the Faculty Senate, it may be reasonable to assume his more open policy to students may come into play for all professors at RPI.

Also discussed by Gerhardt was the fact that RPI is moving toward being exclusively a tenure track professor school while other universities are moving toward implementing professors just for the purpose of teaching. Some see this as an issue, as it could mean the majority of professors will only teach in order to receive funding for their research. It seemed that Gerhardt believed that it should not be a problem for students who seek a personal experience with an instructor, because RPI will be making sure they are as active in their teaching as they are in their research. He also believes that most professors working at RPI are like him, and want to be here to help students learn just as much as they want to research.

The last piece of business Gerhardt discussed was how he and the Faculty Senate were working on revising the Faculty Handbook. Not too many details were discussed about the exact changes, but he assured that the changes would benefit the students and would make professors more present in the lives of students. Given the way he spoke about an improving participation in student affairs, it is fair to say the changes should work. The plan is for the handbook to be completely modified by the end of the semester and Gerhardt seemed very optimistic about the changes.

At the end of his speech, the Senate seemed grateful for Gerhardt’s talk and his affable nature. His contributions to RPI and all of humanity have been and will continue to be at the forefront of technology and education. After his discourse, regular senate activities convened with nothing too monumental ensuing.

For more information about the Student Senate, contact the Senate via e-mail at JustAsk@rpi.edu.

Kevin Dai welcomes students to Institute

Note: This article was originally published as the Top Hat in The Rensselaer Polytechnic under the title Kevin Dai welcomes students to Institute on August 29th, 2012.

Welcome back to school, everyone! I hope you all had a great summer and are excited to be back. To our incoming freshmen, the Class of 2016, welcome to RPI!

A few things about this entering class: there are around 1,350 students this year, making it one of the larger classes we have had. These students have come from a tougher applicant pool as well; they are the cream of the crop. The Rensselaer family is proud to have them, and hopefully they will find their way here into a few of the many clubs, organizations, and activities we have here.

Now that we are back from vacation, it’s time for that tough transition between summer and school. For some, it might mean waking up much earlier than they have been for the past three months. For others, it may mean sleeping in much later!

The Student Senate is also excited to start working on projects and legislative items that hope to improve student life here at Rensselaer. Senate general body meetings are open to the public and will be in the Rensselaer Union 3202 at 7 pm on Mondays for those who would like to attend. We welcome new ideas and perspectives in the Senate and we hope to see some new faces.

As the new academic year and semester begins, I would like to recommend everyone to try new things, whether you have been here for four years, or if it is your first year here. One new thing that I personally tried was food from Flying Chicken, a great southern chicken restaurant located across from I Love NY Pizza on 4th Street. The atmosphere is great, and the wings were the best I have had. Doing new things on campus and in the city of Troy are great ways to expand your horizons.

Here are two opportunities to experience and try new things: the first is by attending the Union Activities Fair this Thursday, August 30 from 6–9 pm. There are over 200 clubs sponsored by the Student Union, and there are definitely a few that will interest you. The second is by attending the first annual Off-Campus Student Fair, from 12–3 pm in the Union. This is an event that will host Troy vendors, and will also give opportunities for students to win prizes, including two iPads.

The Senate is always looking for any ideas, and we’re constantly seeking input on ideas and plans. As always, feel free to contact me via e-mail at gm@rpi.edu or visit me in the GM/PU office in the Student Government Suite on the third floor of the Union.

GM wishes good luck for end of semester

Note: This article was originally published as the Top Hat in The Rensselaer Polytechnic under the title GM wishes good luck for end of semester on May 9th, 2012.

With this being the last Top Hat I will be writing for this academic year, I do not want to focus on anything Student Senate-related. This past week, the Student Handbook revisions have been a big topic we have been looking at. The discussion with Dean of Students Mark Smith was very productive, and we ended up getting some more time to collaborate on the issue. However, if you would like to learn more about that, please look to the RPI subreddit or other articles in this issue of The Poly.
More importantly, I would like to wish everyone good luck on finals, final projects or presentations, and other things that you may have during these last two weeks. I do want to encourage everyone to fully utilize the Red & White Study Days program at the Alumni House. It’s great to have free food, coffee, and be in a productive study environment. Some class councils are also doing some cool things, so look for those as well.
For those that are done with finals: I hope that you have a great summer and stay safe. Good luck with whatever you may be doing, whether it is an internship, job, or just staying home and relaxing for a couple months. It has been a long year, and having some time off from school and Troy can be refreshing.
And of course, to our beloved seniors: You are now entering the “real world.” You are going to be distinguished alumni of our alma mater. RPI has prepared you for your careers, and I hope that it will lead to successful futures. Whatever you may be pursuing post-graduation, I know you will make our school proud, and I hope that you plan to stay in touch with whatever organizations you were part of, friends, professors, and the Institute as a whole. What you will be receiving in a few weeks is a diploma symbolizing the years of frustration you have experienced over those long nights in the library you spent cramming for tests, those moments of extreme joy in seeing your projects succeed, and the times where you wondered how you were going to get through it all, but somehow it was all going to work out. It also symbolizes the friendships and lifelong relationships you’ve made, the skills you have learned, and the memories that will be with you forever.
So what were your best memories of this last academic year? Reflect on these past two semesters and try to remember all that has happened … we’ve all been through so much, both collectively and individually. This year has flown by, and for many of us, there is still more to come. Start thinking of things that you want to do next year; think of ways you can improve the student experience here for yourself and for your fellow students as well.
If you are interested in being involved in student government, as usual, e-mail me at gm@rpi.edu. Have a good summer everyone!

Grand Marshal shares first week experience

Note: This article was originally published as the Top Hat in The Rensselaer Polytechnic under the title Grand Marshal shares first week experience on May 2nd, 2012.

Week one is completed! After a long week of getting acquainted and situated with everything here, I feel that there have been a lot of things that have been accomplished. Every day has been full of surprises, with small things here and there that I have picked up on. For the most part, these are all issues that are necessary, but not as apparent to students. Unfortunately, in these last two weeks of school, it is quite impossible to start everything up without losing momentum into the next year.

With that being said, we are setting up to get big things done! Our first meeting was not too long ago, and it went extremely well. We defined the goals of the Student Senate, appointed positions, and went over some summer, pre-semester, and current, prevalent topics of interest. Of the items on the agenda, the biggest was the off-campus jurisdiction revisions to the Student Handbook. I am encouraging all students to voice their opinion on this issue … however, it is very easy to enter the whole debate with a bias. What I have encouraged all senators to do is to be objective about the issue, and try and consider all aspects of the argument; that is how we need to make decisions, with proper information and deliberateness. I invite all students to an open forum discussion with Dean of Students Mark Smith this Thursday at 6 pm in the Phalanx Room of the Rensselaer Union. We will be discussing anything related to the new revisions.

Besides this, we also appointed all of the officer positions which are: Vice Chair Chuck Carletta ’14, Secretary Stef FeKula ’14, Treasurer Greg Niguidula ’15, Parliamentarian Paul O’Neil ’14, and Chief Information Officer Kenley Cheung ’13. Two other significant appointments were also made, with the Finance, Facilities and Administration Committee being chaired by Russell Brown ’14, and the Communications Committee being headed by Tina Gilliland ’15.

I know that we have a strong group of leaders in the Senate, and everyone is committed and motivated to do great work. There is a mix of experienced and new faces, which is also great. I’ve been able to talk with both one-on-one, and it’s very reassuring to get the wisdom of all of the veterans, but equally great to hear the ideas and perspectives of new senators.

My main goal for the end of the semester is to pave the way for everything so that we can start strong next year. There are a lot of opportunities for everyone to get involved as well. Although we will not be having any committee meetings until next year, it doesn’t mean that you can’t start brainstorming with us! There have already been a few people who have started coming up with solutions to problems that committees can start to implement, which is great.

Overall, my first week as Grand Marshal was absolutely amazing. It reminds me of how great our school is, and with just a bit of collaboration and creativity, how much better it can be.

Feel free to e-mail me

New GM prepares for coming semester

Note: This article was originally published as the Top Hat in The Rensselaer Polytechnic under the title New GM prepares for coming semester on April 25th, 2012.

Hello, RPI. I am writing today as the 147th Grand Marshal. I am excited to start this next term off and am hoping to get started as soon as possible.

First off, about myself. I am a sophomore chemical engineering student. I was actually born in Troy and grew up in Niskayuna—not too far from here. I was previously the Class of 2014 president, and I intend to stay involved with my great class council. The reason why I have worked so hard to become the next Grand Marshal is because RPI truly has great potential to be one of the best schools out there. Student government is the best way to improve our student experience, and I hope that with my leadership and goals, the Student Senate will be able to accomplish many things this upcoming year.

As for my goals overall and what I plan to see from the Senate going onwards, I want to make it very clear to students that student government is open to everyone. This means that the recently elected senators will be open to everyone and proactively reaching out, engaging students, and inquiring about their opinions about RPI. Senate committees (the most important part of the Senate) are also open and available to any student. I hope that we can open up more pathways for communication, which will encourage students to get involved. By doing this, the Senate will have a voice. We will know what students are thinking, thereby being able to bring agendas to the administration.

Overall, I have my work cut out for me. I’ve already reached out to past senators, chairs, and faculty that work closely with the Grand Marshal. It is important to know where the past Senate left off, and even learn a few things about what to do and what not to do. There is a lot that will need to be done during these final weeks of school (mostly internal framework and appointments). We need to take care of this before we begin to tackle student issues and projects. Everyone has been so nice to me so far in offering me help, ensuring that we have a smooth transition between the terms.

Most importantly, I am extremely excited to begin working with the 43rd Student Senate! We have a great bunch of students, and a few new faces to Senate (including mine, of course). I consider myself very lucky to be able to work with them in the upcoming year, many of whom I’ve had previous experiences with. There is a lot to do these last few weeks, and I am fully confident that we will all work well together so that we can get everything done.

Those that are reading this article and feel like making a difference, let me know! My e-mail is GM at RPI. If you are driven to make a change here at RPI, then I encourage you to get involved. We need people that are dedicated to making a positive change based on the needs of the student body; that’s what Senate is all about.

My office will always be open to students, I will try to keep the door open whenever I am in. If you want to stop by and let me know what’s on your mind, raise questions, comments, and concerns, I will be available. Once I am more settled, I can say when exactly I’ll be in.

For now, I look forward to meeting everyone, and I am very excited to be your new GM.

Working in WebTech: Year 1

“How do I make a link? What’s [insert acronym]? I have no idea how this works? I forget how do I push my project in GitHub? What’s [insert different acronym]?”

These and many more questions characterize my meetings with the Web Tech Group, the brains behind Concerto and some of the other web phenomena done here at RPI. The thing is, I still have no idea how to do much of anything. It’s been what? Eight weeks since I’ve started learning HTML and CSS from w3schools.com? I still need at least eight tabs of tutorials still open at all times if I want to get anything done on making my own website. I thought this would all come to me in at least five weeks. I want to get onto building bigger projects, making cool layouts, and….. What do you mean I also need to learn JavaScript!?!?

But, it’s okay. Sometimes it seems like everyone around you is able to juggle six objects and can learn how to do ten more in five minutes while you’re still stuck at three. Or two. Or one, which it feels like most days. The fact is, learning takes time. Everything that should be done well takes time. If you want to get the most emotion out of a love novel, you read it slowly.

That’s what the Web Tech Group is teaching me. I can do the bigger projects and make the cool layouts. It just takes time. It took one member two years before he could finally contribute something to the group. Everyone in the group is patient and are good teachers. They aren’t pushing me to play “catch up”, which seems to happen in a lot of groups if you ever want to relate to what they’re doing.

<p>My advice?

<ol>

<li>Practice comes best from actually <em>doing</em> what you love to do.</br> <strong>Find a group that cares about teaching. Not only doing.</strong></li>

<li>Use what you learn wherever you go.</li>

<li>It’s okay if you don’t remember how to do everything. Even though classes seem to teach that you should remember everything, use your resources whenever you need to, like <a href=”http://www.google.com/”>Google</a>.</li>

</ol>

<\p>

 

….Ah nuts. Messed up the last tag.

 

More wireless in more places: Network improvements and policy changes

Next time in you’re in the Union, take a look at the new wireless networks available on your computer.  In addition to rpi_802.1x, you may have noticed wireless networks named rpi_wpa2, rpi_public_webauth, and rpi_gameconsoles_macreg that have popped up over the past couple of weeks.  If you haven’t read this week’s article in the Polytechnic or the discussion on the RPI subreddit, it’s all part of the wireless and wired network enhancements that DotCIO is rolling out to provide wireless network connectivity to more devices in more places.

DotCIO has been making a push to deploy more wireless access points in areas that have had traditionally poor wireless coverage in a push to improve wireless coverage on campus.  For example, wireless coverage in the Quad was improved with the installation of roughly 40 wireless access points.  We have been working with them in this mission by providing them with the results of question 11 (regarding wireless coverage), which has been used to improve wireless in places like the Folsom Library.  Next time you’re in the area, go check it out!

Without going into too many technical details, the rpi_wpa2 network uses a newer and more secure wireless encryption standard to secure your wireless connection that is compatible with  a wider variety of devices compared to the current rpi_802.1x network.  The days of downloading and running a special app on your Android device and hoping that it connects to RPI’s network are over since this new network works with Android out of the box.

In addition to rolling out a new network that works with more devices, the Web Technologies Group is collaborating with several members from DotCIO’s Information Technologies Infrastructure (ITI) group on getting video game consoles connected to RPI’s wireless network.  While nothing has been finalized yet, the rpi_public_webauth and rpi_gameconsoles_macreg networks are being used for testing wireless network connectivity for video game consoles.  Jonathan Goldszmidt from the Web Technologies Group has been personally testing several video game consoles with these networks and while we don’t want to promise anything just yet, the results have been extremely promising so far.

These improvements in wireless connectivity and coverage mean that the installation of personal wireless routers is no longer necessary to ensure proper wireless coverage and connectivity.  As a result, there is a proposed policy to ban the operation of wireless routers within residence halls.  With the increasing rollout of wireless access points to improve wireless coverage within residence halls, a common problem causes degradation of RPI’s own wireless networks in these areas.

Personally owned and operated wireless routers contribute to interference with RPI’s wireless network.  There have been numerous cases of wireless issues within residence halls that have been caused by misconfigured wireless routers that are essentially drowning out RPI’s wireless network.  While concerns have been brought up about this policy change, I hope that you evaluate the effect that personal wireless routers have on others.  If you have wireless coverage issues, they should be reported to the Help Desk where they will be promptly diagnosed and resolved.

In addition, DotCIO is blocking outbound DNS requests to third-party DNS resolvers starting next semester.  This week’s article in the Polytechnic provides a lot of detail regarding the rationale behind the policy, but for the majority of people on campus, there will be no noticeable change.  For those who are using third-party DNS servers such as OpenDNS or Google Public DNS, those services will no longer work beginning the next academic year.

How can you help improve RPI’s wireless?

DotCIO will be sending out a survey soon regarding network infrastructure.  Be sure to complete it!

Reports of wireless issues can be sent to the Help Desk.  They’re pretty good at resolving the issues promptly.

The Senate would like to hear your thoughts on these policy initiatives and changes by leaving a comment on this post or using JustAsk (via email at JustAsk@rpi.edu or our contact form).

Until next time,

Kenley Cheung
CSCI/EMAC 2013
Chief Information Officer, Student Senate

Senate Hosts Scoops with the Senate!

Reilly holds up election forms

Reilly Hamilton, RNE Chair, shows freshmen the GM Week 2012 Election forms.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by Barton Hall last night for some ice cream and information on Senate! There were some great discussions and the Senate hopes you learned more about motions, parliamentary procedure, and the committee structure. And don’t forget to get your candidate forms into the Rules and Election Committee if you are interested in running.

If you still have any remaining questions, Don’t hesitate to contact justask@rpi.edu to hear from a senator!

Thanks Again for your interest!

Christina Gilliland
Director of Senate Communications
Class of 2015 Senator

Web Technologies Group continues to innovate

Note: This article was originally published as the Top Hat in The Rensselaer Polytechnic under the title Web Tech Group digitally helps RPI campus on February 29th, 2012.

Hello RPI! Last week, the Student Senate approved the Union Annual Report. This report, compiled by the Union Annual Report Committee (a joint Senate/Executive Board Committee) details the Rensselaer Union finances and the activity fees for 2012–2013. I cannot encourage everyone enough to read this report as it details how every dollar is spent in the Union. Our Union is a great source of pride for our school, so please take this opportunity to read more about it. I would like to thank everyone involved in the creation of this report, especially the Union Annual Report Committee and its chair Jon Stack ’12.

This week I am pleased to present a Top Hat from Chief Information Officer Kenley Cheung ’13 regarding the Web Technologies Group and their projects. I hope that you find it informative and consider getting involved with this Senate group. As always, you may e-mail me anytime at gm@rpi.edu. I would love to hear from you!

My name is Kenley Cheung and I am the CIO of the RPI Student Senate. As the CIO, I chair the Web Technologies Group. The group supports the information technology infrastructure of the Senate, and more importantly, seeks to deliver solutions to student problems using web technologies. By utilizing the power of collaboration and open source, the group has delivered solutions that students use everyday.

The group’s most successful projects are Concerto Digital Signage and Shuttle Tracking. Concerto was launched in Spring 2008 to address the clutter associated with traditional paper signage. From its humble roots as a simple idea, Concerto has grown to a system of over 20 screens on-campus with the support of numerous departments at Rensselaer as well as an open-source project with a user base at CERN and several Fortune 500 companies. The entire history of Concerto can be found at http://concerto-signage.org/why-concerto/.

Shuttle Tracking at RPI is a smaller success story signifying the importance of collaboration here at Rensselaer. With the assistance of Jason Jones from Parking and Transportation Services and the support from Professor Mukkai Krishnamoorthy and fellow students from the Rensselaer Center for Open Source Software, Shuttle Tracking has become an easily accessible and innovative tool that many students use today.

Great problem solvers never stop innovating, and neither does this group. We are working on several upcoming projects. Inspired by the importance of communication on campus, a simple tool to route feedback to the appropriate administrators has been in the works for several months. This tool is set to launch along with the new Senate website in the near future. Also, the group’s deputy CIO, Jonathan Goldszmidt ’13, has been leading the development efforts behind an improved printer tracking application originally developed at the Voorhees Computing Center Help Desk. In addition to developing solutions, WTG is teaching new members web development skills by involving them in the development of new applications.

- Russell Brown, Grand Marshal & Kenley Cheung, Chief Information Officer

Senate communications looks to improve

Note: This article was originally published as the Top Hat in The Rensselaer Polytechnic under the title Senate communications looks to improve on February 22nd, 2012.

Hello RPI! I hope everyone’s semester is going well. The Senate Cabinet has been hard at work on a Spring Senate Survey. The information collected will assist us in planning projects that will have the greatest impact on students. We are aiming to get this survey out to students in the next two weeks.

You’ll notice that this week’s Top Hat is written by Tina Gilliland ’15, the Senate director of public relations. As mentioned below, this is part of an initiative to increase awareness of the projects of Senate committees. I hope that you will find these articles interesting, as they will offer you some more detailed information about what projects the Senate is working on.

My name is Christina Gilliland. I serve as a Class of 2015 senator on the Student Senate and chair the Senate Communications Group as director of public relations for the Student Senate. I am writing part of today’s Top Hat as part of a new Senate initiative. This new project will feature updates from the different Senate committee chairs in the weekly Top Hat. The idea is to provide the opportunity for the leaders of the Senate to more effectively and directly convey their active committee projects to the RPI student body. This idea has been proposed as one of many ways to increase the lines of communication between the RPI student body and the Senate.

Communication has become a top priority for the Student Senate this semester. The diversity of voices in the weekly Top Hat will not be the only project facilitating the exchange of information. This past Friday in the DCC Great Hall, the Student Senate held the first of several “Meet Your Senator” events. Throughout the day, students had the opportunity to express complaints and suggest ideas for the continued improvement of RPI. The ideas from Friday’s event will be researched by the relevant committees to determine the best plan for moving forward. Additional events will be held throughout the semester to provide more opportunities to interact face to face with your student senators. Next week, the Senate will be hosting the semesterly “State of the Union” on Wednesday, February 29, from 7– 8:30 pm in the Rensselaer Union McNeil room. The event will feature a brief presentation by the newly appointed Grand Marshal Russell Brown ’14, and the introduction of the committee chairs of the Senate. The event is intended to be an avenue for the Student Senate to answer student questions as well as gain feedback. The Student Senate will also be hosting Pizza with the Cabinet on Thursday, March 29. Pizza with the Cabinet is a unique event which will feature an open forum in which students have the opportunity to converse with various members of the Rensselaer Presidential Cabinet and the academic deans.

These events are all part of the Senate’s initiative to drastically increase student involvement. The Senate is a representative body and depends on the input of its constituents. Communication is a combination of both the Senate informing students and the Senate receiving and fostering the concerns of students. Help us to help you, and let your voice be heard by the Senate. Consider joining one of the several Senate or Institute committees open to the entire student body, attending a Senate event, or simply sending an e-mail to the Senate at JustAsk@rpi.edu with any questions, concerns, or suggestions. We look forward to hearing from you soon!