WPI Tech Old Timers organization

Keeping WPI Connections Alive

Tech Old Timers organization combines social gatherings with learning
September 26, 2018

If you're a part of WPI, most likely learning is your thing.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a student, a professor, or a staff member—you like to dig deep and absorb everything there is to know about topics from quadratic equations and fashion to coding and comic books.

That curiosity and passion for learning—as well as the camaraderie that comes along with the WPI experience—never really goes away, and so it’s no surprise that once members of the WPI community have graduated or retired, they’re still interested in ways to keep that spark alive.

Enter Tech Old Timers, or TOTs.

Having recently celebrated its 60th anniversary, the social club for retired or nearly retired WPI alumni, faculty, staff (and their spouses), invites its members to come to campus and keep apprised of research, news, and other events. 

Members of the TOTs tour the new Foisie Innovation Studio.

“Part of the Magic of WPI”

About 40 to 50 TOTs attend the monthly meetings that feature speakers from all walks of life. Some are from WPI (several professors and student teams have stopped by to showcase their research and IQP work); others are visiting speakers and scholars—a professor from Brown University gave a presentation on Worcester’s position as "the diner capital of the world," complete with a diner-themed lunch by Chartwells. But regardless of where they’re from, they are just as eager to share their passions with the TOTs as the TOTs are to hear what they have to say.

“We call it a social club, but it’s also a learning club,” says Peter Thomas, executive director of the Office of Lifetime Engagement for Alumni, Parents, and Friends. “There’s a lifelong learning component to it. These are folks, many of whom have worked here their entire careers, and alumni who have kept in close touch with the university … it’s an active group of people who just want to stay connected to WPI.”

“There’s always something new to discover, and it’s rewarding to socialize with alumni, faculty, and staff who are as interested in WPI and continued learning as I am,” says Paula Delaney ’75, TOTs secretary, first alumna member, and—fittingly enough—a member of the first class recruited under the WPI Plan.

Some of the TOTs memorabilia on display at the recent 60th anniversary event.

TOTs president Neil Norum agrees, adding, “WPI is a dynamic community, and TOTs is one way to stay in touch with what was an important part of my life …. My favorite part of membership is keeping these relationships with people I worked with while at WPI.” Norum joined WPI in 1989 as the director of media and community relations before retiring in 2002, and has been president of TOTs since 2011.

“To me, this is part of the magic of WPI,” Thomas says. “There are so many incredibly smart people, there’s so much going on, you want to be here and be a part of it.”

The TOTs program committee meets during the summer to narrow down ideas for the year’s events, and 2019 is already shaping up to be a busy year. After capping off 2018 with a holiday music program and sing-along, the new year will begin with a meet-and-greet from WPI Police Officer Brian Lavallee and K-9 Bella; an introduction to the New England Jazz Alliance Hall of Fame from director of jazz studies at WPI Rich Falco,  an overview of spinach research being done by biomedical engineering professor Glenn Gaudette and his team; a walk-through on home computer security by computer science professor Craig Shue; and a May finale event with a General Ulysses S. Grant historical interpreter.

Those interested in joining may contact the Alumni Office (by email or 508-831-5600) for information on upcoming meetings. The TOTs are always ready and waiting to welcome new members into the fold and keep WPI traditions alive.

- By Allison Racicot