Navigating the World and Beyond presents the first Rensselaer Last Lecture series


Patterned off the Last Lecture Series made famous by Dr. Randy Pausch, Rensselaer's Class of 2019 will celebrate their last lecture at Rensselaer with three lectures on diverse topics. Each lecture will be 50 minutes with a reception to follow. Lucky attendees will leave with a copy of Dr. Pausch's book, "The Last Lecture".

Nearly 400 graduating seniors helped to choose who they would like to hear from one last time. The Rensselaer community is welcome to attend. 


We ask that attendees RSVP for the event.


May 7, Center for Biotechnology & Interdisciplinary Studies, Isermann Auditorium

11:00 a.m. - Noon            David Goldschmidt

Noon – 12:30 p.m.           Reception to follow David’s lecture

12:30 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.    Ronald Hedden

1:20 p.m. – 1:40 p.m.      Reception to follow Ron’s lecture

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.      Holly Traver

2:30 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.      Reception to follow Holly’s lecture


Lecture Title: "Computer Ethics: What We're Not Teaching in Computer Science"

Dr. David Goldschmidt


David Goldschmidt


David Goldschmidt has served as the Executive Officer for the Computer Science Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute since January 2012.  In this role, he teaches primarily systems-based courses at all levels for the department, in particular Operating Systems, which is a C/Linux-focused course required of all computer science majors.  He is also involved with the Rensselaer Center for Open Source (RCOS) [], a large group of students working on open source projects as part of the Undergraduate Research Program (URP).

Administratively in the department, David is responsible for overseeing undergraduate advising, handling course scheduling, managing curriculum changes, and serving as the department's degree clearance officer.  He is also very good at Scrabble and crossword puzzles.  And his favorite cereal is Cocoa Puffs (with Trix as a close second).




Lecture Title: “Envisioning the Impact of Your Career”

Dr. Ronald Hedden


Prof. Hedden joined the faculty at RPI in January of 2017 after serving as an Associate Professor in the Dept. of Chemical Engineering at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX from 2009-2017.  Dr. Hedden's past research and teaching interests covered both Chemical Engineering and Polymer Science, with emphasis on soft materials and nanomaterials in engineering applications.

In his role as Professor of Practice at RPI, Prof. Hedden teaches both Chemical Engineering courses and Core Engineering courses.  His research interests recently turned to innovations in undergraduate education, especially the use of Virtual Reality in the classroom. 

Prof. Hedden and his students recently began developing a Virtual Chemical Plant (VCP) simulation environment to provide students virtual access to chemical process equipment that is otherwise too dangerous, too expensive, or too large to bring into the classroom.  The VCP environment is expected enable innovations in teaching process safety, process dynamics and control, chemical reaction engineering, and plant design.



Lecture Title: “Mangoes Make Me Happy”

Dr. Holly Traver


Dr. Holly A. Traver received her B.A. and Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University at Albany, State University of New York. While she has published and presented in various journals and at conferences, her passion lies in interacting with and educating the bright and talented students at Rensselaer. Dr. Traver’s broad academic experience includes teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels at the University at Albany and Rensselaer. In addition, she has served as a consultant for the New York State Police, Academy of Certified Archivists, and Snowslip Equine Center. In 2010, Dr. Traver was a guest lecturer for a Leadership Course at the National Academy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Quantico, VA. She has also been recognized as an Honorary Member of the Patroon Chapter of the National Residence Hall Honorary.

Dr. Traver currently teaches Positive Psychology, Psychology of Mindfulness, and Industrial/Organizational Psychology.  She considers herself quite fortunate to share her knowledge about how to live life full of meaning, gratitude, and positivity, simply by considering how to think about what happens in life, how to be more mindful of life around us, and the importance of having others in our lives, helping those around us, and of course laughing more.