Multidisciplinary team of RIT students organizes design conference this weekend

Social media, word-of-mouth marketing draws top designers, hundreds of attendees

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A team of nearly 50 Rochester Institute of Technology students from wide-ranging majors has organized a conference that will draw some of the industry’s hottest designers and hundreds of college design students from across the nation to the Henrietta campus this weekend.

Thought at Work, taking place Oct. 18 to 20 at several venues around RIT’s campus, will provide nearly 400 graduate and undergraduate students at RIT and throughout the Northeast with an opportunity to network with peers and industry professionals while actively engaging in discussions about current design topics.

“Our mission is to provide a platform for interesting people to talk about their passions by creating a dynamic experience for students and industry professionals to network, share and learn,” says John Leavitt, a fourth-year industrial design major from Tully, N.Y. “This design conference is entirely student driven.”

In only its second year, Thought at Work organizers are expecting to nearly double the number of students and colleges that attended last year. According to Leavitt, some students are traveling more than 11 hours to attend. Among attending schools are Columbus College of Art and Design, Carnegie Mellon, Ohio State, Penn State and Syracuse.

In yet another testament to the power of social media, nearly all of the publicity surrounding the conference, and even some of the speaker invites, has taken place on social media—primarily through the conference’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

The list of keynote speakers and presenters schedule to attend is a veritable “Who’s Who” in the design industry today, including Bradley “GMUNK” Munkowitz, RIT alumna Patti Moore (’74, industrial design) and Spencer Nugent.

GMUNK is a design director for the motion graphics industry, including work on films such as TRON: Legacy and Oblivion. More recently he served as design director for the Bot and Dolly/Autofuss collective, including the short film Box, which has revolutionized the way people view projection-mapping content.

Moore, a 2012 inductee into RIT’s Innovation Hall of Fame, is an internationally renowned gerontologist and designer who has served as a leading authority on consumer lifespan behaviors and requirements.

Nugent’s project has become wildly popular after what started as a personal project for self-improvement has inspired the drive to sketch daily among budding new artists as well as seasoned designers and illustrators alike.

In addition to presentations, workshops, panel discussions and a drawing competition, students will have the opportunity to receive portfolio reviews from many of the designers in attendance. Sponsors of the conference include Microsoft, Autodesk, Keyshot, Modko, Roc. Brewing and CURE restaurant.

Registration is only $30 and walk-in registrations are welcome. For a complete conference schedule, go to