From Our Readers

Applauding Art_X at Rensselaer

Students working at a large lightbox

I applaud the introduction of the new Art_X program at Rensselaer (“Crossroads of Creativity,” Spring 2018). It has been known for a long time that music and science had an affinity for each other, as witnessed by the fine musical productions at RPI in the past.

I hope that the program will at some point include pipe organ design as part of the curriculum. The pipe organ is essentially a mechanical instrument of considerable complexity, some components of which have remained unchanged for centuries. Maybe it’s time for fresh eyes to look at the way pipe organs are built—and played.

Susan LaGrande ’68,
Wappingers Falls, New York

Water Bottle Project Gathers Attention

Students finish building a shelter made from water bottles

Regarding the plastic water bottles project for disaster relief (“Recycling Plastic Bottles for Disaster Relief”): We at Friendship Bottles are getting quite a bit of wind in our sails after the Maker Faire in NYC last fall. CBS is wanting to discuss doing a story in spring, we’re talking to Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York about having a permanent exhibit on the bottle project next year, we heard from a STEM teacher who wants to do a project in his classroom, and a parent volunteer wants to include an exhibit at a science fair that their school is doing.

And it was so fun to watch the kids build with the bottles; the experience center that RPI came up with was fantastic and a huge hit! And it wasn’t just young kids; parents were building with their kids; kids in their early teens were building things. I overheard a couple different parents trying unsuccessfully to coax their kids into leaving the play area to go on to other exhibits.

We so appreciate the tremendous collaboration with RPI; it’s fueling tremendous opportunities for environmental and humanitarian impact.

Tim Carlson, Creator of the Interlocking Water Bottles,
Arlington, Virginia

Running for Autism Awareness

Young boy leaning against a wall

I was delighted to see the article about predicting autism from blood samples in the recent issue of the alumni magazine (“Success of Blood Test for Autism Affirmed,” Fall 2018). It is a great step forward in early detection of this disability. The recent article about Juergen Hahn’s research is encouraging.

I am the father of a 29-year-old with autism. I feel it is imperative we find the cause of autism before it becomes the disability of, not only a couple decades, but the century.

To this end I am in the process of running 3,000 miles to raise awareness and help fund research to find the cause of autism. I was in the Rensselaer Class of ’74 of the Hartford Graduate Center and am now 73 years old.

I am proud and delighted my alma mater is active in researching this disability. I hope Rensselaer continues significant research on early detection and eventually helping find the cause(s) of autism.

Please visit or my Facebook page for more information and to help achieve the goal of an autism-free world.

Robert “Nick” Nickerson ’74,
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Note: Opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute.