The Play's the Thing for Talented WPI Student

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass.-- N. Harrison Ripps, a senior majoring in technical communications at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, earned honorable mention in the 21st Century Playwrights Festival 1995 competition. Harrison was honored for Retrain (Protocol), which he wrote in 1995. The play follows a murder investigation with a sci-fi twist--the "star witness" is a highly advanced robot who has forgotten that she is not human.

The festival searches out and identifies the very best young playwrights from among the top college and university writing programs in the United States: the writers the judges feel will be making the most significant contribution to our national theater in the coming years.

Ripps, son of Dr. Ronald Allan Ripps of Bridgewater, Conn., and of Neville Holter of Herndon, Va., is a graduate of The Wooster School in Danbury, Conn. His Interactive Qualifying Project was the collaborative authorship the Aegis Space Conference and his Major Qualifying Project involved the production of a promotional video on WPI's technical, scientific and professional communication interdisciplinary major. Both the IQP and MQP are WPI degree requirements.

Ripps is a member of Alpha Psi Omega drama fraternity, a Student Government Association Senator, a member of the Social Committee, which he chaired in for two years, and a member and past secretary of Masque, the Institute's theater group.

"I chose WPI first for its location, and then for its reputation," says Ripps, who originally planned to become a mechanical engineer. "I first heard about technical writing (now technical, scientific and professional communication) during the spring of my freshman year. I had begun to become dissatisfied with his ME courses and thinking back at that point to the subjects I'd enjoyed the most in high school, I realized that my ideal course of study would incorporate both technological subject matter and writing, a passion I hope to turn into a profession.

"What has really kept me here has been the flexible curriculum ( I've dropped mechanical engineering and gone after a concentration in computer science) combined with a host of extracurricular activities. Ultimately, I don't believe that any other science and engineering school could have afforded me the opportunities and experiences I have had at WPI. I have been allowed to pursue technological issues and concepts without losing sight of the humanities as so many technical students seem to do."