NOTE: This event has been postponed due to illness. It will be rescheduled for the spring semester.
The Friends of the Folsom Library have announced the second Carl A. Westerdahl Forum, which will take place Wednesday, Sept. 30, on campus. The program, titled “Aerospace and Rensselaer: Then, Now, and Tomorrow,” will highlight the role Rensselaer people and programs have played in the aerospace industry, from 1930s aeronautics to the space shuttle and beyond.
The featured speaker will be Lester Gerhardt, Rensselaer professor emeritus of electrical, computer, and systems engineering. Prior to his academic career, Gerhardt worked at Bell Aerospace on the Apollo Mission, including the visual simulation for the first moon landing of the lunar excursion module, which was used to train Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. He will focus on the early years of aeronautical engineering at Rensselaer, the careers of many of the outstanding graduates of the program, including visionary NASA administrator and former Rensselaer president George M. Low ’48, and Rensselaer-related research.
Joining him as panelists are Rensselaer Provost Prabhat Hajela and Jennifer (Parker) Keyes ’02, operations research analyst at NASA’s Langley Research Center, who will examine the post-Shuttle era, changes in the aerospace industry, and the continued preparation of Rensselaer graduates for careers in space. The host for the evening will be Institute Trustee Paula L. Simon ’68.
The forum will take place in the Russell Sage Dining Hall at 6 p.m., preceded by an hors d’oeuvres reception, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Immediately following the forum, participants may tour the George M. Low Gallery in the Low Center for Industrial Innovation.
The Carl A. Westerdahl Forum was established in October 2013 by the board of directors of the Friends of the Folsom Library in honor of Westerdahl, a longtime member of the Friends’ board who passed away in April 2013. In his long career at Rensselaer, Westerdahl served the Institute as dean of students, director of alumni and community relations, and director of constituent programs. Upon retirement in 1998, he volunteered as Institute historian. He was co-author of the history book, Rensselaer: Where Imagination Achieves the Impossible, and as a member of the Friends, had presented a popular series of luncheon presentations on Rensselaer history.
The Westerdahl Forum presents programs that explore education, history, art, architecture, engineering, and science as they relate to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In collaboration with community organizations and Rensselaer alumni, the forum presents experts who share their insights on these topics as speakers or panel members.
There is no cost for the event, but RSVPs are requested. For more information about the program, or to RSVP, contact Adrienne Birchler, Folsom Library, (518) 276-8329, firstname.lastname@example.org.