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Remembering Arthur C. Clarke's Two WPI Visits

03/19/2008

Arthur C. Clarke, one of the most prolific and visionary authors of the modern age, died on March 19. Known for his science fiction, his collaboration with director Stanley Kubrick on the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, and his invention of the geosynchronous communications satellite, Clark made two appearances on the WPI campus over the years.

In 1969, the year after 2001 made its debut, he came to campus to deliver a lecture about the future of science, technology, and space exploration. Years later he recalled fondly that Esther Goddard, widow of Robert H. Goddard, a member of WPI’s Class of 1908 and the father of modern rocketry, was in the front row.

Thirty-two years later, in the year in which his famous film was set, WPI invited Clarke to be a participant in "Imagining the Future," a special event in the newly opened Rubin Campus Center in which visionaries offered their view of the future of technology and society. Clarke joined the event by telephone from his home in Sri Lanka and also sent a brief video filmed specifically for the event in which he offered his predictions about the future. Clarke received the WPI Presidential Medal during the event.