students vie for a high rank in their class, with ambitious parents
urging them on. But colleges and universities? At RIT the university's
vision is to be First in Class when local, national and international
companies and government agencies go looking for project partners
and for new employees. First in Class is more than a catchy
title. It is an attitude and mindset for a program that aims to
put RIT in the forefront among institutions that collaborate with
industry and government in applied research, in product development
and in educating students in areas relevant to their current needs.
"We will be first in that class of universities that forms real,
effective and meaningful partnerships with industry and government,"
said President Albert Simone, when he announced his intentions.
Nabil Nasr and three members of his remanufacturing group meet
to discus the Navy ship project, a First in Class undertaking.
Clockwise, from bottom left, are Tara Grimes, Scott Valentine,
Nasr and Jeff Heintz.
the needs of business and government agencies and partnering with
them to fill those needs isn't a new process at RIT. The university
regularly designs academic programs to educate students to create
and manage new projects in forward-moving industries. "In the
past, companies that related to RIT did so through the narrow
window of the department with which they were working," says President
Simone. "Through this First in Class Initiative, we will
bring together the resources of many university wide departments
to focus on the needs and objectives of each partnership. This
is a logical extension of RIT's historical strengths as a university
that is responsive, timely and progressive.
if we are to continue to succeed and to graduate students who
will move to the top of their companies, then we have to be bold,"
Simone adds. "First in Class is bold. It is an initiative
that will propel us into the future. It will make our university
the first choice for partners looking for cutting edge research,
technology transfer and training in our areas of expertise, and
it will also make our students their first choice as new employees
who can help the company grow."
in Class makes the collaborative process a planned part of
RIT's mission, not an operation left to chance. RIT will deliver
talent, technology and solutions to help industry and government
partners increase their effectiveness and reach their goals. Industry
and government partners will have a greater stake in RIT, with
input into curriculum development; access to students via named
scholarships, internships and problem-solving teams; preferred
access to RIT facilities; and guidance in setting RIT's research
great university always distinguishes itself by having areas of
excellence. We want to continue to go in this direction, and First
in Class will take us there," says Bruce James '64, an RIT
trustee. RIT will focus at first on three areas of excellence.
Donald Boyd, former president of the RIT Research Corpora-tion
and RIT's newly appointed associate provost for outreach programs,
will manage the overall First in Class Initiative and head
the Information Technology area of First in Class. Frank
Cost, associate dean of the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences,
is leading the Imaging and Publishing area and Paul Petersen,
former dean of the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, is heading
the Design, Development, Manufacturing (D2M) team.
Paul Rispin, fourth from the left, on a tour of RIT.
research is what RIT does," says Boyd. "We are the perfect choice
to find solutions to problems and participate in new product development."
indeed. A number of projects are already under way, providing
solutions to clients and illustrating RIT's First in Class
National Center for Remanufacturing and Resource Recovery (NCR3)
is now applying its resource recovery methods to Navy problems and,
in the process, could save the Navy (and taxpayers) many millions
of dollars. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) asked NCR3 to expand
the scope of its methodology to include Navy systems. The program
was initiated with a congressional appropriation secured byRep.
Louise Slaughter in the 1997-98 federal budget. In total, NCR3 has
received $5 million for the project, including $2 million secured
by Slaughter and Sen. Charles Schumer in this year's federal budget.
As a pilot program, ONR suggested that NCR3 investigate how an old
Navy Surface Effect Ship 200B could be redesigned to take advantage
of the NCR3 methodology. Using these funds, NCR3 has come up with
redesigns for ship hulls, propulsion systems and other configurations
that not only remanufacture retired vessels, but also help increase
the range and speed of the ships, and make them more stable than
conventional designs and more useful for research activities. Starting
less than two years ago, the redesign activities have taken place
in RIT's Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies (CIMS) and
at Pacific Marine, Honolulu. The redesign developed by NCR3 has
other significant commercial applications, says Nabil Nasr, director
of the three-year-old NCR3. For example, the Department of Transportation
has called to learn about findings from the ship conversion project
and its applications to fast ferries and other potential uses across
the nation. "The ONR ship project has already helped agencies to
see what remanufacturing can do," says Nasr.
model of the remanufactured Navy ship.
going very well, says Dr. Paul Rispin, ONR's program manager,
Industrial And Corporate Programs Department, about the NCR3 collaboration.
"This will provide us with a lot of options for our advanced hull
form for Navy research craft. I'm putting NCR3 in touch with other
users of technology and programs inside the Navy. We're trying
to expand the usefulness of what NCR3 has done.
are very pleased with the caliber of the work that NCR3 has done
on this pilot project," Rispin adds. "The process and methodology
developed by Dr. Nasr and his team have been of the highest quality
and will prove extremely useful for our collaborative work with
our university and industrial partners."
aging ships an ongoing concern, Rispin says, "it's good for my
program--I don't have to come up with the dollars to go buy a
about RIT? "The benefit to the College of Engineering and RIT
is that we will ratchet our reputation up yet another notch,"
says Petersen. "We'll be better known worldwide."
the Navy project is the largest one to date for the NCR3, the
center has established itself in just a few short years as a national
and international leader in the field of remanufacturing. To date,
more than 276 companies, as well as the Environmental Protection
Agency and other state and federal agencies, have called upon
types of projects undertaken by NCR3 are great examples of how
our teams of staff, faculty and students can deliver results to
industry and government that make a real difference," says William
Sheeran, assistant vice president for academic affairs and director
already has a market position in the area of imaging and publishing.
Two key fields of opportunity--integrated publishing systems and
imaging devices and materials--offer the potential for several
business lines that would become the focus of research, applications
and innovations, and training and education.
the combination of disciplines that we can offer that makes RIT
unique in meeting industry's needs," says Cost. "The whole point
of First in Class is to make ėsuper disciplines' or cross-discipline
focuses, and then promote those as the new themes for RIT. We're
much bigger than our singular core strengths. And we can offer
more to both industry and students by realizing what tremendous
cross-over applications exist from program to program."
companies used to relate to RIT in terms of very specific schools
or programs; many knew RIT only through a single department,"
Cost adds. "A good example is Heidelberg--it probably never thought
of RIT in terms of anything except ėthe place with the school
of printing.' Now, Heidelberg has a much broader view of RIT as
a comprehensive school."
another example, John R. Schott, the Frederick and Anna B. Wiedman
Professor of Imaging Science, is one of 14 researchers selected
for the federal government's Landsat Science Team and is director
of RIT's Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing (DIRS) Laboratory.
(See the Gallery, page 16 for images from his work.) His systems
combine software systems and imaging science and printing capabilities
to offer government agencies and industries information on global
DIRS team has designed, constructed and extensively tested a device
called the Modular Imaging Spectrometer Instrument (MISI), described
by Schott as "an exotic, hyperspectral system" capable of capturing
information well beyond the visible spectrum. The device will
be loaded onto an airplane that will fly under Landsat 7, essentially
"seeing" what Landsat sees. Comparisons of the readings from the
two sources will be used to calibrate the satellite's imaging
administrator Daniel Goldin, on a visit to RIT this past year,
called RIT a "key player" in the fast growing Earth imaging technology.
7 is equipped with a much more sophisticated instrument than previously
available," says Schott. "We expect the new data will give us
a much better understanding of what goes on in the Great Lakes."
Landsat 7 will make practical use of RIT imaging science research,
and provide new information for RIT researchers to put to use.
First in Class Initiative in information technology (IT)
has also adopted the super discipline concept by creating the IT
Lab. The lab, a new multidisciplinary resource, will acquire emerging
IT technologies and apply them in novel ways to issues of interest
to RIT industry and government partners.
Pilots such as this one benefit from RIT First in Class testing
IT Lab's initial project is supported by a cash and equipment
grant from Sun Microsystems. The project focuses on helping Sun
explore the potential of distributing information simultaneously
to large numbers of people who are connected to the Internet.
Multicast is a technology that supports this type of information
distribution. Sun asked the IT Lab to use Sun's newly developed
multicast technology to explore technical issues related to improving
the technology's reliability.Another aspect of the Sun Microsystems
project is to demonstrate the feasibility of information multicasting
to mobile computing platforms, such as the Palm Pilot and cellular
telephones. Here, the challenge is to slim down the software so
that it fits in the small memory typically found in mobile devices.
Sun developed a slimmed down version of their core software technology,
the Java Virtual Machine, and provided the software to the IT
team of faculty and students headed by computer science professor
James Heliotis used the Sun software in the Palm Pilot VII to
show that multicast technology could transmit information to wireless
devices. "Sun already developed the technology," says Heliotis.
"Our goal is to take their cutting-edge research and come up with
ideas for using it."
has funded research at leading universities all over the world,
including MIT and Harvard. But the RIT project is fundamentally
different, says Phil Rosenzweig '77, director, Sun Microsystems
Laboratories Boston Center for Networking. "This is advanced development
...[and] we're asking RIT to take the technology that we've done
the research on and make it practical."
says he's impressed with the high level of commitment and the
motivation provided by the new First in Class program.
benefits to students are as clear as the benefits to partners.
Jeffrey Lasky, professor and director of the new IT Lab, emphasizes
that an important aspect of the First in Class effort is the creation
of "an enriched academic environment for our students. It's a
win-win-win situation. Our students will gain invaluable experience,
faculty will have exciting research opportunities, and our industry
partners will benefit from access to our resources--both in terms
of people and facilities."
McKenzie, provost and vice president for academic affairs, emphasizes
that although First in Class will focus on three specific areas
to start, the benefits of the initiative will be felt throughout
the university. "We've selected these three areas strategically.
They not only capitalize on RIT's existing strengths, but also
provide for a broad range of interdisciplinary collaborations
across the university," he says. "RIT already has a strong reputation
among students and our industry and government partners; this
initiative will take us to the next level, one that we are well
positioned to achieve."