Paul Lang ’67 was in over his head.
It wasn’t the first time and it wouldn’t be the last.
But he was fascinated.
“It was my senior year at RPI and I had taken the most challenging course of my career: Nonlinear Vibrations. Learning about Routh-Hurwitz stability criteria made my eyes spin, but I needed to pass.”
Paul showed up early and stayed late and even did extra credit, but going into his final exam, he only had an F+ average.
Needing to pass the final exam to pass the class, he just barely made it!
“I remember getting that news from the professor. He was tough but he appreciated my hard work and effort and willingness to try.”
That class opened the door to Paul working at Eastman Kodak, a job he believes he only got because he passed ‘Nonlinear Vibrations’ and listed it on his resume.
While at Eastman Kodak, Paul worked on several special projects: “They had satellite space cameras that were taking pictures in space, but the major problem they had was transporting the cameras on the ground in trucks without damaging them. Our project was to design a system that protected these delicate cameras as they were being driven up and down the east coast. And my coursework at RPI had directly trained me for this challenge.”
Throughout Paul’s time at Rensselaer and in his engineering career at Mobil Chemical that spanned the globe, Paul had no concept about where he was going next – only that he needed to be prepared and ready and willing to take risks and accept new challenges.
“RPI helped give me the knowledge, people skills, and relationships to be successful. Once I reached a degree of success, I felt the responsibility to give back and take a risk on the next generation of students.”
So in 2008, Paul did the math and with the help of Exxon Mobil’s matching gift program, he realized he could fund a Patroon Scholarship – a four year, $10,000/year scholarship designated to one student. That day, Paul signed his Patroon Scholars agreement and sent in his check. Nine gifts later, he has supported two students through college and just began his third, set to graduate in 2021.
“I choose to give back to RPI because I believe the Institute opened all kinds of doors for me, and I want those same doors opened for today’s students.”
Paul just celebrated his 50th Reunion from Rensselaer in 2017, along with his fraternity brothers and lifelong friends. He still continues to work, as well as support his church and youth focused organizations in his home in Connecticut. And he still doesn’t know where he’ll end up next. But he has no second thoughts on supporting scholarships at his alma mater.
“RPI’s motto is ‘Why not Change the World’ and that’s what I am doing. Why not?”