Undergraduate research will shine at summer symposium

Follow RITNEWS on Twitter

Elizabeth Lamark/ETC Photo

Cory Ilo, a third-year computer engineering major, demonstrates the 3-D imaging platform he developed as part of a summer research experience in 2011. He presented his results at last year’s Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium. The 2012 the symposium will be held Aug. 10.

Over the past year, research conducted at RIT has produced cutting-edge results, including one of the first studies on child abuse in the deaf community, a report on the use of social networks to spread computer viruses and the creation of novel 3-D interfaces. And, undergraduate students were the brains behind all of them.

According to Ryne Raffaele, RIT vice president for research and associate provost, undergraduate research is an important component of the university’s educational and scholarship mission, and work being conducted by students mimics the increasingly diverse and relevant research portfolio. The breadth and depth of these efforts across RIT’s 9 colleges and institutes will be celebrated at the 21st annual Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium on Aug. 10.

The daylong event will include presentations, posters and exhibits featuring research and creativity in disciplines such as engineering, science, computing, psychology, history, photography and fine art. Participants will work with faculty and staff mentors to review their results and prepare their symposium contributions. The event is designed to model an academic conference or art exhibit and seeks to give students a better understanding of how to prepare and present research findings, business plans and artistic works.

“The Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium is often the first opportunity students have to present their research in public, in the process learning how to weave very technical details into a compelling and comprehensive narrative,” notes Scott Franklin, professor of physics and chair of the symposium’s program committee. “In addition to gaining valuable communication skills, students find this ‘sense-making’ step can often cement their knowledge of the research itself.”

Cory Ilo, a third-year computer engineering major, participated in the 2011 symposium. He discussed his research in mobile 3-D interfaces that he conducted as part of a student team mentored by computer science professors Hans Peter Bishoff and Reynold Bailey. The software program allows for easier manipulation of 3-D images, similar to those depicted in movies such as Minority Report, that could ultimately be used to assist doctors in conducting remote surgeries or used by directors to create 3-D films.

“The project not only involved significant programming work but also mathematical modeling of various human gestures and research into how people perceive computer generated images,” says Ilo, who conducted the work through a Research Experience for Undergraduates grant from the National Science Foundation.

Franklin says this is just one example of the unique experiences undergraduate researchers receive on campus, and he hopes the summer symposium continues to serve as a means for highlighting the tremendous accomplishments of student researchers and their faculty mentors.

“RIT has long recognized the pedagogical value of hands-on undergraduate research,” Franklin adds. “There are more opportunities than ever for students at RIT to take leading roles in the frontiers of their chosen disciplines, whether that be laboratory or clinical research, expression of artistic creativity or other innovative works.”

For more information, go to www.rit.edu/research/symposium.