The Bicentennial Colloquy

Join us on May 17 for Building Bridges to the Future, our Bicentennial Colloquy featuring Reid Wiseman ’97 and Liz Wisan as Emily Warren Roebling.

Doors open at 3 p.m. Colloquy begins at 3:30 p.m. in the EMPAC Concert Hall followed by a reception at Evelyn’s Café. Free and open to the public.


Reid WisemanReid Wiseman
Reid Wiseman lives in Houston, Texas, with his two daughters. Reid began his career as a Navy pilot and test pilot. At NASA, he served aboard the International Space Station for 165 days completing over 300 scientific experiments alongside his crew and conducted two spacewalks as the lead spacewalker in 2014. Reid commanded an undersea expedition for eight days in 2016 studying coral reefs and analog mission capabilities for future human exploration of the Moon and Mars. The Baltimore native earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer and Systems Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Master of Science in Systems Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University. He previously served as the Chief Astronaut and is currently assigned as Commander of NASA's Artemis II mission around the moon.

Liz WisanLiz Wisan
Liz Wisan is an actor and educator living in Brooklyn, New York. Her acting credits include stage performances of both new and classical work on and off Broadway, and at many of the great regional theaters across the US. She has also worked in TV and film, most recently appearing on HBO’s The Gilded Age as Emily Roebling, an important albeit overlooked historical figure who she is delighted to play again. She has taught at The David Geffen School of Drama at Yale (formerly Yale School of Drama), NYU, City College, and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, among others. With extensive training in Clown, Commedia dell’Arte, and Improv, she enjoys bringing elements of curiosity, pleasure and play to her work. Liz received her MFA in Acting from Yale School of Drama, and her BA in Music and Theater from Skidmore College.

Emily Warren Roebling
Photograph courtesy of 
Collection of the New-York 
Historical Society.

Emily Warren Roebling
Emily Warren Roebling, wife of Washington Roebling, Class of 1857, is best known as the person who led the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge. Emily and Washington Roebling married in 1865, and then traveled to Europe to study the use of caissons for bridge construction. Emily’s father-in-law, John Roebling, was a world-famous civil engineer who designed the Brooklyn Bridge, and his son, Washington, who graduated from RPI with a degree in civil engineering, became the chief engineer in 1869 after his father died from an injury. Emily took over much of Washington’s duties after his health declined. 

In 1881, RPI alumni held a gathering to praise Emily for her contributions to the Brooklyn Bridge construction. When the Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883, she was given the honor of being the first person to cross the bridge and did so in a carriage, with a rooster on her lap to symbolize victory and prosperity. In an opening speech by politician Abram Stevens Hewitt, he praised Emily and her efforts, saying, “it is thus an everlasting monument to the self-sacrificing devotion of a woman, and of her capacity for that higher education from which has been too long debarred.” Emily was inducted into the first class of the Rensselaer Alumni Hall of Fame in 1998.

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