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2005-2006

WPI Alumnus and Father of Modern Rocketry Robert Goddard Honored with Memorial

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/December 15, 2005
Contact: WPI Media Relations, +1-508-831-5609

Robert H. Goddard, depicted in his 1908 graduation portrait.

WORCESTER, Mass., December 15, 2005 -- Worcester Polytechnic Institute's most famous graduate, rocket pioneer Robert H. Goddard, has been honored for his groundbreaking achievements with a memorial in Worcester, the city where he was born and conducted his early experiments in liquid-fueled rockets. Located at the corner of Goddard Memorial Drive and Apricot Street, the monument was developed by the Goddard Memorial Association (GMA) and designed by local artist Joseph Miglionico. A public dedication ceremony is scheduled for spring 2006, and will include remarks from WPI President Dennis D. Berkey and other civic leaders.

Commonly known as the "father of modern rocketry," Goddard received a B.S. degree in physics in 1908 from WPI, where he was the first undergraduate to be initiated into Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Society. He served on the WPI faculty for two years while pursuing advanced degrees at Clark, where he also taught for many years.

Goddard completed some of his early experiments on rocketry at WPI. In particular, his work on the bazooka, sponsored by the U.S. Army Signal Corps and Ordnance Department, was begun in WPI's Magnetics Laboratory (now Skull Tomb). On March 16, 1926, Goddard launched the world's first successful liquid-fueled rocket on a farm in nearby Auburn, an event as significant in the history of the Space Age as Wilbur and Orville Wright's first powered flight at Kitty Hawk was to the history of aviation.

The new monument joins many honors that were bestowed on Goddard (most following his death in 1945), including NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and WPI's Goddard Hall. The monument features eight panels, made from porcelainized enamel on steel, on which are recorded highlights of Goddard's career. The panels surround a 10-foot-tall stylized stainless steel rocket and tower.

The text on the monument was researched and written by Barbara S. Berka, president of the GMA and wife of Ladislav H. Berka, research professor in WPI's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. At the entrance to the memorial site are two informational kiosks that were donated by WPI and Clark University. The dedication of the monument, which forms the centerpiece of the landscaped site, fulfills the GMA's mission to "bring honor and recognition to Worcester native and rocket pioneer Robert H. Goddard, and to recognize Worcester as the 'Birthplace of the Space Age.'"

For more information, please visit the Goddard Memorial Association Web site.

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., Worcester Polytechnic Institute was one of the first engineering and technological universities in the nation. WPI's 18 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, management, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to the B.S., M.S., M.E., MBA and Ph.D. WPI's world-class faculty work with students in a number of cutting-edge research areas, leading to breakthroughs and innovations in such fields as biotechnology, fuel cells, nanotechnology, and information security. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through our innovative Global Perspectives program. There are over 20 WPI project centers throughout North America and Central America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe.