By Tracey Leibach

When it comes to getting the most out of a four-year undergraduate education, it’s hard to find anyone who packed more in than Ben Viner ’24. With a dual major in aeronautical and mechanical engineering and two minors in music performance and architectural acoustics, Viner took classes in four of RPI’s five schools. He also found time to take part in the Engineering Ambassadors group, served as the 157th Grand Marshal, and played in the Rensselaer Music Association. And, he was a member of Phalanx, RPI’s student honor society.

“What sets RPI apart is that all the classes I’ve taken from four different schools have worked together,” Viner said. “I’ve been able to apply the skills I learned in acoustics to my engineering courses, I’ve used engineering concepts in music, and the list goes on. RPI allows you to put a twist on your classes to create a program that truly interests you.”

With Commencement just around the corner, Viner reflects on his time here.

Some of his fondest memories come from his experiences as an Engineering Ambassador, bringing STEM presentations and hands-on activities to schools, afterschool programs, libraries, and community events to inspire the next generation of engineers. “It is unreal to see the impacts we have on the students we reach,” he said. “Students have told me that they want to become engineers after my presentations, and I’ve been recognized outside of school visits as ‘the cool engineering guy.’”

Viner’s undergraduate experience began at the height of the COVID pandemic. Having just moved here from Winchester, Virginia, he found the online classes and limited social interactions daunting. He also saw things that could be improved for the student experience, which prompted him to join student government to make an impact. In his senior year, he was elected Grand Marshal, the highest student government position. “It gave me a platform to advocate for my peers, but also to see projects from beginning to end,” he said. “It was incredibly rewarding to discover issues from within the student body and be able to solve them.”

In addition to his coursework and extracurriculars, Viner continued to pursue his passion for music. A saxophonist in the Rensselaer Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble, as well as a member of club performance groups, he said that staying involved in music helped him discover the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center on campus and the architectural acoustics program. “I didn’t know this was something you could study, but I was sold when I heard of it. Now, I’ve taken five courses and done undergraduate research in acoustics. And I will continue studying acoustics after graduation!”

Viner, who has been on the Deans’ List all eight semesters, is heading to John Hopkins, where he will pursue graduate education and work in the university’s Applied Physics Laboratory developing underwater acoustic systems.

He’s leaving RPI equipped with the confidence to take on whatever comes his way.

“I truly believe my education has equipped me to tackle anything in the world,” he said. “At RPI, we’re more than just engineers: we’re artists, musicians, scientists, writers, business leaders, and architects all at the same time.”