Old Tech - Robert Goddard & Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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History / Heritage - Exhibit

Date & Time: Friday, May 16, 2008 - Sunday, December 21, 2008

Suggested Audiences: Elders, Adult, College, High School, Middle School, Elementary
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WPI: George C. Gordon Library
2nd Floor, Gladwin Gallery
100 Institute Road
Worcester, MA 01609-2280
Cost: Free
Description: The George C. Gordon Library is featuring a special exhibit of archival materials and photographs that document the connection between Robert Goddard and WPI.

Robert Goddard, often called the "Father of Modern Rocketry," graduated from WPI in 1908, a general science major. Even as an undergraduate student, Goddard dreamed of space flight, submitting an article, "Possibility of Investigating Interplanetary Space," to Scientific American in 1907. Also while an undergraduate, Goddard published an article in the WPI Journal, which at the time was devoted to technical literature. The article dealt with the use of the gyroscope in balancing and steering airplanes.

Despite his scientific interests, Goddard seems to have been popular among classmates, being elected class vice president and president, serving as editor of the class yearbook, and a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. He was also one of the first to be inducted into the newly established chapter of Sigma Xi.

After graduation, Goddard served on WPI's Physics Department faculty for two years, and then did advanced study at Clark University. During this time, he continued to use WPI facilities for his experiments. Legend has it that while using a lab in Salisbury, explosions caused some damage and he was then moved to the Magnetic Lab (now Skull Tomb). Even there, neighbors complained of hearing loud noises.

Goddard went on to lay the foundations for the development of long range rockets, missiles, satellites and spaceflight. He was the first to use liquid propellants as rocket fuel, with the first successful launch of a liquid-fueled rocket from Auburn, Massachusetts, March 16, 1926. After his teaching career at Clark ended in 1934, Goddard worked for the U.S. government on rocket research until his death in 1945.

More Information: E-mail: archives@wpi.edu
Entered by: WPI University Archives + Special Collections

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Created: May 16, 2008 at 4:34 PM
Last Modified: July 2, 2008 at 9:30 AM

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