History of RSE

History of RSE

History of RSE

The Rensselaer Society of Engineers was founded as the Pantotherian Society or The Pi Eta Scientific Society in 1866. The society was subsequently incorporated under the laws of the state of New York in 1873. Under society's constitution, candidates for membership were nominated by members of the society. After one’s proposal for membership there was a minimum of a one-week waiting period during which their candidacy was considered. After the prescribed waiting period their membership was decided by a vote of a society. Initially, any potential member receiving a black ball during the vote was declined membership, the constitution was later amended to permit two black balls before a member was declined. Upon initiation new members were expected to pay a $3 initiation fee. In addition to students being eligible for membership in Pi Eta, honorary membership was also extended to any graduate or officer of Rensselaer or any person who had distinguished themselves in their scientific endeavors. Membership could also be revoked by a two thirds majority vote of the membership. At its first officer election held on May 24, 1867 the following officers were elected:

  • President: Pompeyo Sariol of Puerto Principe, Cuba
  • Recording Secretary: Albert H. Millet of Paris, France
  • Corresponding Secretary: Palmer H. Baerman of Troy, New York
  • Treasurer: Max L. Goldstein of New York City

In 1867 the society created a library to collect scientific and engineering publications in addition to original works by members. Today the library continues to be housed in the society's clubhouse. A model of diversity, the society counted among its members students from across the United States and Central and South America. By 1880 Pi Eta's membership included two Japanese students and one of five Chinese students enrolled at Rensselaer.

In 1883, the Pi Eta scientific society became the Rensselaer Society Of Engineers. The reason for this was to distinguish themselves from the other fraternities in the region as well as to show their close ties with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Prior to occupying its current location the Rensselaer Society of Engineers have met in several locations in the city of Troy. Prior to the present headquarters location, a house on Burdett Avenue in Troy was used for approximately four-years between 1920 and 1924. The previous locations were used mainly for meeting and study purposes.

In chronological order, these locations were:

  • Prior to April 1868: Rented rooms belonging to a Dr. Watkins
  • April 1868 – 1870: Unknown Location
  • After 1870: Hannibal Green Building, Broadway, Troy NY
  • Before 1881: 4th Street, Troy, NY
  • 1881 - 1908: 219 River Street, Troy, NY
  • 1908 - 1920: 257 Broadway, Troy, NY (second floor above a bank - three rented rooms)
  • 1920 - 1924: Burdett Ave., Troy, NY
  • 1924 through Present: 1501 Sage Ave, Troy, NY