RIT leadership embarks on ‘Silicon Valley Engagement Initiative’

University establishes strategic meetings with 24 high-tech companies and startups next week




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Christine Whitman and Kevin Surace

A 90-member delegation from Rochester Institute of Technology is holding strategic meetings with 24 global high-tech companies and organizations in Silicon Valley, July 20 to 23. Discussions during the “Silicon Valley Engagement Initiative,” based in San Jose, Calif., will center on innovation, entrepreneurship, corporate research and development, and more.

“This is a great opportunity for RIT to engage our stakeholders within the Silicon Valley area – alumni, corporations, prospective students – about our strategic direction,” said Christine Whitman, chair of the RIT Board of Trustees. “The university leadership visited in 2008 and incorporated many of the recommendations provided by the tech community into our curriculum. Since then, RIT’s momentum in research, innovation, entrepreneurship, sustainability and online education has produced impressive results. We look forward to receiving feedback on our recently completed 2025 Strategic Plan, ‘Greatness Through Difference.’”

RIT’s presence in California continues to grow. For example, one of the hallmarks of an RIT education is the cooperative education program, where RIT students receive hands-on experience in their fields working with companies across the globe. More than 700 RIT co-op students complete 1,200 work assignments each year in California, mostly in Silicon Valley. RIT will also use the West Coast trip to connect with more than 4,000 alumni who live in the San Francisco Bay region.

“RIT aspires to be more engaged with the West Coast, particularly in Silicon Valley,” said RIT President Bill Destler. “We’d like to build deeper relationships with companies and businesses, interact meaningfully with our alumni, and cultivate relationships with other individuals, foundations, and companies. We are exploring what key opportunities there are for RIT to become more aligned with this incredibly enterprising region.”

Kevin Surace, the 2009 Inc. magazine “Entrepreneur of the Year,” is a lead organizer for the initiative.

“I am so excited to welcome the RIT leadership and trustees to Silicon Valley,” said Surace, an RIT trustee and 1985 alumnus (electrical engineering technology). “RIT is a leading producer of world-class graduates who end up in technology companies, thousands landing in Silicon Valley. Our engagement with local technology companies is critical to our leadership and trustees as they guide the university to deliver students with the skills they require in the coming decades.”

RIT leadership will meet with the following companies and organizations during the university’s Silicon Valley Engagement Initiative:

  • Adobe
  • Advanced Micro Devices
  • AutoDesk
  • Cisco
  • Cisco Meraki
  • Dolby
  • Electronic Arts
  • Facebook
  • Fluidigm
  • GE Digital
  • Google
  • GoPro
  • HP Inc.
  • IBM
  • Intuit
  • Juniper Networks
  • Linked In
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Oracle
  • Plug & Play
  • Qualcomm
  • Silicon Valley Community Foundation
  • Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Sunnyvale Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • Tesla Motors
201607/whitmansurace.jpg

Christine Whitman and Kevin Surace