Media Contact
December 17, 2008

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WORCESTER, Mass.– December 17, 2008 -- Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has received a $100,000 pledge from Chicago-based Rolf Jensen & Associates (RJA) to help fund a new, state-of-the-art fire sciences laboratory. RJA has committed to a five-year endowment to support the project and has volunteered to spearhead fundraising.

Although plans for the laboratory are in the conceptual phase, the facility ultimately will be used to support teaching and research programs in fire protection engineering (FPE), said Kathy A. Notarianni, associate professor and head of WPI’s Fire Protection Engineering Department. RJA’s donation is the anchor gift for the laboratory.

“We recognize the integral role WPI plays in educating and training the future leaders of our profession,” said George Toth, chief operating officer of The RJA Group and chairman of WPI’s Fire Protection Engineering Advisory Board. “Their programs, professors and students are first-rate, and we couldn’t be more excited to be involved at the beginning stages of this new development.”

RJA founder Rolf Jensen was an emeritus member of the WPI FPE advisory board, where he provided counsel during the development of the university’s FPE degree program, which was launched in 1979. After his death in 2002, RJA established theRolf Jensen Memorial Fund Endowment at WPI to support the FPE program. Martin Reiss, president and CEO of The RJA Group, has also chaired the WPI FPE advisory board.

For several years, WPI has delivered graduate programs to RJA employees in Chicago and at other offices around the world through distance learning. A one-year, five-course graduate certificate program, offered through WPI’s Corporate and Professional Education Division, enables the company to hire local engineering graduates and then provide them on-the-job training in fire protection engineering. RJA employees may also complete the requirements for a master’s degree in FPE from WPI, also through distance learning. In addition, WPI is a sponsor of the RJA Academy, which provides ongoing technical and professional learning programs in fire topics to RJA employees worldwide.

WPI is home to the world's leading graduate program in fire protection engineering, which incorporates elements of civil, structural, electrical, and chemical engineering to make structures, vehicles, clothing, and people safer from fire. In addition to offering the nation's first master's degree program in the field, the university was the first to provide a graduate-level program in fire protection engineering via distance learning in 1993, and it grants the world's only formal PhD program in fire protection engineering. WPI has conferred more than 350 master’s and doctoral degrees in fire protection engineering and currently delivers programs to students hailing from more than 30 countries.

“By stepping out front on this project, RJA has shown it is a strong believer in the strength and excellence of WPI’s fire protection engineering program,” said Dexter Bailey, vice president for development and alumni relations. “We are extremely grateful for their financial and volunteer support, and look forward to working with them to create a world-class facility.”