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“I Really Believe In The Fraternity Experience”

Some of Clyde Richard’s '63 most memorable experiences happened while at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. One of which was joining The Rensselaer Society of Engineers. “I joined RSE for three reasons.  First, it was obvious to me almost from my first day on campus in 1959 that you really needed to be in a fraternity—the upper classmen housing was not the best. Second, a fellow baseball player from my high school team who was a year ahead of me was in RSE.  Third, it was obvious to me that being close to campus and not needing to lay around on the floor of the student union between classes would be a real plus.”

Although he joined for very practical reasons, Richard gained a brotherhood that taught him many valuable lessons, “We learned to confront a problem, maybe disagree on a solution but come together to eventually solve the problem.  This is life and the RSE experience just started it for me a little earlier than it starts for some people.”

Around Christmas of his senior year at RPI, Richard married his high school sweetheart. After graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Richard went on to pursue his masters while working for Pratt & Whitney in Connecticut. Afterwards, Richard jumped at the chance to pursue his doctorate while teaching at UConn. At the time Richard and his wife had two children, and were expecting their third.

Since then, Richard and his wife have moved around a bit. Richard spent two years at Northeast Utilities working as a PhD. “I always wanted to be a teacher but there was nothing around when I left UConn in 1971.  After two years at Northeast, my wife and I decided we needed an adventure.  We were living in our hometown of Manchester and just wanted to try something else.  I took a short term consulting assignment in Denmark then moved to Germany for 3 ½ years.”

After returning to the U.S., Richard took a job as a professor with the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. During his time working for the Academy, he also took on various consulting jobs. He worked on forensic engineering projects, which began to see wider use in the 1980’s. In 1987, he used this experience to start his own forensic company in the basement of his home. The company that he built continued to grow until Richard reached a point where he had to leave his role with the Academy to pursue his company. “Today have 45 employees operating out of five offices doing about 1200 cases a year.  At almost 77 years old, I am still doing some cases, but a lot fewer than I did ten years ago.”

“To this day I am proud to say I went to RPI,” Richard says. “As hard as it was, it made my career.  I have never heard anyone say that RPI was anything other than the best.  55 years out the door, I still have fond memories of marching through the cold and snow on my way to the Sage building to work myself silly for a C in Heat Transfer.”

This past Christmas season, Richard and Joanne celebrated their 55th anniversary. Looking back on his time at RPI, Richard is still a big advocate for fraternity life, “I really believe in the fraternity experience.  Both my daughter at Duke and son at Denison were involved in sorority and fraternity life.  I think being in a place where 40 young guys lived in a house, making and obeying rules, having differences but resolving them, helping each other study and pass classes add a level of maturity that could be found in no other place.”