Kent Rissmiller completed studies in political science at Muhlenberg College (AB) and Syracuse University (PhD). Along the way, he also completed a JD at the University of New Hampshire Law School, where he worked in the Energy Law Institute. Professor Rissmiller also worked for three years as an attorney for the Public Service Commission of Nevada, where he was involved in setting rates and policies for electric and water utilities. At WPI, Professor Rissmiller teaches government, law, and public policy. He also directs the Pre-Law program and oversees the Law and Technology minor. One of his greatest joys has been seeing the success of his students who have gone on to graduate and law schools and become accomplished public policy and legal professionals. "WPI offers an excellent preparation for students interested in public service," he says. "Our student’s scientific and technical competency is highly valued in policy and legal settings, where too many professionals lack the technical background to excel. For example, lawyers with an understanding of biology and physical chemistry can communicate with environmental experts. That's important whether they are developing regulations or challenging the use of a potentially harmful pesticide. Currently, some of my students are trying to understand the chemistry and geology of hydrologic fracking--knowledge which is important to regulating that industry.
"Professor Rissmiller's own research is in energy policy, and he has advised many student IQPs in the area. Studies have addressed the restructuring of the electric industry, energy conservation in hospitals, and the Green Communities Program in Massachusetts, among others. Since 2006, Professor Rissmiller has also served as associate dean of Interdisciplinary and Global Studies. In that capacity, he is also director of the Washington Project Center. "The Global Program is one of the best features of a WPI education," he says. "It's a tremendous experience for students and faculty." Professor Rissmiller has advised students at project centers in Washington, London, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and Zurich.