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The Park Bench eNews is published bi-weekly by the Rensselaer Technology Park Campus.The eNews features articles and press releases involving Park companies and organizations, RPI in the news, special offers, invites and general information of interest to the Technology Park community.

April 28, 2016                                                                              Vol 3  Issue 3

In The News
Winners Announced for Spring 2016 and “Best of the Best” in the Change the World Challenge 

Extraordinary achievements in student innovation at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) were recognized recently with several hallmark entrepreneurship awards—the 10 winning ideas for spring 2016 and the overall “Best of the Best” in the Change the World Challenge, and the Rensselaer Class of 1951 Student Entrepreneurship Awards.

Team “Amparo” earned the honor and a $5,000 grand prize of “Best of the Best” award with their technology that addresses the user-focused design of prosthetic devices that will help amputees around the world. The Amparo socket can be quickly molded and fit to an amputee’s unique geometry and shape—allowing their prosthetic device to be adjusted at home when needed instead of at the doctor’s office, which may not always be easily accessible in developing countries. The technology was created by Matthew Dion ’17, a Rensselaer biomedical engineering student. 
Fear Not, AI (Artificial Intelligence) May Be Our New Best Partners in Creative Solutions – A Conversation with Dr. James Hendler

Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking are arguably some of the greatest minds of the 21st century, so when one or the other or especially both express a strong opinion, people sit up and pay attention. Such was the case with the now famous (some might say infamous) statements about the threat of AI to the future of the human race. But some researchers closer to the inner-workings of the AI field aren’t so sure that AI poses such a threat, now, in the next two decades, or ever.

James Hendler has been in the field since 1977, and he’s had front row seats to the evolution of the AI field, which in his words has shifted from critics saying, “this stuff isn’t possible, it’s never going to work,” to the present-day “this stuff is starting to work, we’re scared.”

How Tailored Lighting Improves Quality of Life for Persons Wtih Alzheimer's Disease

Older adults in long-term care facilities often spend their days and nights in dimly lit rooms with minimal time spent outdoors. The constant, unvarying dim light found in many long-term care facilities means that older adults are not experiencing the robust daily patterns of light and dark that synchronize the body’s circadian clock to local sunrise and sunset. Disruption of this 24-hour rhythm of light and dark affects every one of our biological systems, from DNA repair in single cells to melatonin production by the pineal gland in the brain. Circadian disruption is most obviously linked with disruption of the sleep-wake cycle—feeling sleepy during the day and experiencing sleep problems such as insomnia at night—but is also linked with increased risk for diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

Lighting tailored to the needs of an individual can improve sleep and reduce depression and agitation in persons with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a recent study led by Mariana Figueiro, light and health program director at the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer.


RPI Commencement Speaker and Honorands Announced

President Shirley Ann Jackson has announced that Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, will address Rensselaer graduates on May 28, during the 210th Commencement Ceremony. Cousin will receive an honorary degree at the ceremony for her contributions as leader of the world’s largest humanitarian organization and her role in raising awareness of food insecurity and chronic malnutrition.

“At Rensselaer, we prepare our students to solve the greatest challenges of our global society,” said President Jackson. “These challenges are complex and interconnected; they require solutions based in deep scientific understanding and cutting-edge technology. We are delighted that the Rensselaer community will benefit from the insights and experiences of Ertharin Cousin, who employs multicultural, multinational, multidimensional, technologically based strategies at the World Food Programme, with the ultimate goal of ending hunger worldwide.”


Using Magnetic Forces To Control Neurons, Study Finds the Brain Plays Key Role in Glucose Metabolism 

To learn what different cells do, scientists switch them on and off and observe the effects. There are many methods that do this, but they all have problems: too invasive, too slow, or not precise enough. Now, a new method to control the activity of neurons in mice, devised by scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and Rockefeller University, avoids these downfalls by using magnetic forces to remotely control the flow of ions into specifically targeted cells.

Jonathan Dordick, Howard P. Isermann ‘42 Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and a member of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies at Rensselaer, and colleagues successfully employed this system to study the role of the central nervous system in glucose metabolism. Published online in Nature, the findings suggest that a group of neurons in the hypothalamus plays a vital role in maintaining blood glucose levels. Glucose metabolism is fundamental to human health, and a mechanism for controlling metabolism through remote activation of specific regions of the brain may provide new routes to therapies for a range of important diseases.


Tech Connect

How 19 U.S. Cities Are Re-imagining Their Communities

Innovation is happening in cities across the country. From Akron, Ohio, to St. Paul, Minnesota, entrepreneurs, activists and designers are quietly collaborating on ways to reimagine the places where they live and work.

Keith's Quiz Corner

The Rensselaer Technology Park Campus consists of 1250 acres of land which RPI began purchasing from farm families back in the 1940's. The land was ultimately used for the Tech Park, but for what reason was the land originally purchased?

A)   For a real estate / money-raising venture
B)   To establish a new village
C)   To move the main Institute Campus
D)   To build a golf course

***The answer will be in the next issue of the The Park Bench eNewsletter.

Quiz question from the last edition. (See the answer highlighted below.)

PlayNET, a former Rensselaer Technology Park company, licensed their software to a company called Control Video Corporation (CVC) in 1985. CVC later changed its name to which company listed below and became a global mass media corporation, still using some of Play Net’s original communication protocols today?***

  2. AOL
  3. YAHOO
Keith VanAmburgh, Project Coordinator for the Rensselaer Technology Park

Upcoming Events

Literacy Volunteers of Rensselaer County 5K

Sunday, May 1st 

Where: Rensselaer Technology Park Campus

$25 preregistration from 3/1/16 through 4/30/16
$30 race day registration. In-person preregistration: Rensselaer Tech Park, Saturday, April 30th, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

Description: Race Day Schedule: 8:00 A.M. Registration, 9:00 A.M. Children’s Fun Run 9:30 A.M. Youth Mile, 10:00 A.M. 5K Run/Walk, 11:15 A.M. Awards Ceremony

Register Here!


   April 29th and 30th 

GameFest at Rensselaer is an annual celebration of creativity and innovation in digital games, with a student showcase and competition, music performances, and presentations from veteran game designers, critics, scholars, and indie developers.

Nicole Anuszewski is the publisher of the Park Bench eNews. If your organization has any news or upcoming events to share in the newsletter, please respond directly to this email or email Nicole at
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