WPI Wire, Vol. 10, No. 2 - Summer 1996


To the editor:

Just a note to tell you that I appreciate your short section [WPI Wire, Winter 1995] about the WPI alumni that have built replicas of or those involved in the first autos in the U.S. I wish you had expanded on it. I will summarize my interest in it and show you how there were more WPI men indirectly involved then you may realize.

The first American auto was built in Springfield in my grandfather's machine shop with and for Frank Duryea. The first car was completed and pull-tested successfully in 1892. The original engine was only 1-1/2 hp and this was upgraded in 1893. The upgrade was about 1/2 hp and this was quite significant.

The auto was then readied for the first American automobile race in 1895 in Chicago. It won the race (quite a story) and collected $2,000. It went on to participate in the world's first track race in Providence in September 1896, winning all prizes for gasoline cars. It went on to England, where the first race was held between London and Brighton in November 1896. It won the first gold medal for speed. It went on for several other races.

The key contributors were Frank Duryea and my grandfather, William J. Russell. The development of the vehicle was quite a story. William Russell initiated considerable interest in science and engineering in his offspring, son John V. Russell '22; grandsons Clayton Roberts '50 (M.S. '51) and Dr. John P. Russell '54 and nephew Richard Mayer '40 .

Thought you might be interested.

Clayton Roberts '50, Syracuse, N.Y.

To the editor:

I am at a loss for words regarding the news in the Spring 1996 issue of the WPI Wire. We should all rejoice now that WPI has signed joint admission agreements with Suffolk University Law School and Franklin Pierce Law Center. Not only that, but according to the article, a "six-year, joint-degree program with closer ties between the faculties of all three institutions" is predicted for the "more distant future."

One can only imagine the glee with which the prospective lawyers of the Class of 2000 will greet the news that the path to litigation and confrontation has been made a tad bit easier in the short term. After all, law school prepares people to strut while sitting down. Just think what students of the future classes eligible for the six-year program will feel when they realize that they might not have to apply to law school and may be in a position to start their illustrious legal careers one year earlier than their less fortunate high school classmates. In fact, many lawyers are quick to point out that they are self-made (and they worship their creator). As a topnotch engineering college, I have faith that by the time the budding barristers begin the serious study of law, WPI will have ensured that they will be able to calculate one-third of virtually any amount faster than any other law student. I even imagine that this course will lend itself well to education though IPI. Kudos to WPI for its foresight in affiliating with the two law schools. I am not a lawyer, so I intend to strut about the news while lying prone.

Vlassios C. Danos '76, Phoenix, Ariz.

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Last modified: Thu Jun 10 10:21:02 EDT 1999