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The University Magazine

The place for ideas is open for business (and innovation and creativity)

President Bill Destler and Web entrepreneur Steve Shapiro '04 at the grand opening of RIT's Center for Student Innovation.

In one area, you'll find RIT students working on vehicles harnessing alternative fuel. In an- other space, students create software content for children's educational games in developing nations around the globe. In yet another area, crafty students develop a sensor and software program to lock and unlock their dorm room doors from remote locations.

Welcome to our new Center for Student Innovation. The 10,000-square-foot space, dedicated this fall, will serve as a nexus of creativity and technology, a hub where teams of students from all corners of the university can develop and showcase innovative and entrepreneurial projects.

Every freshman - our largest class in RIT history - toured the Innovation Center this fall. We want to instill the entrepreneurial spirit right from the start of their college experience.

We also introduced our students to Steve Shapiro, a 2004 graduate of RIT's information technology program and current MBA student. Shapiro is the creator of Digsby, a product he developed and launched from Venture Creations, RIT's high-tech business incubator.

Digsby is a free, downloadable program that allows users to link their various e-mail ac- counts, social-networking sites and instant-messenger clients, creating easy management of all programs through a single desktop widget. Launched in March 2008, Digsby has found its way into the Wall Street Journal, Laptop magazine, and PC Magazine, which listed it among the "Best Free Software of 2009." Digsby has grown to more than 1.5 million users managing more than 4 million accounts and exchanging more than 25 million instant messages every day.

Steve tells me he took advantage of all RIT had to offer, from an entrepreneurship class to office space at Venture Creations, and even hiring co-op students as employees. And this was all before we had the new center.

In many ways, the center is for the next generation. It is important that we, at RIT, create the new jobs, start the new economy, on our own. We can't wait around for someone else to do it. The center will help youth think about ideas for 20 years down the line. It will be a signature structure that brings RIT closer to the vision of becoming a global leader in innovation and creativity.

We urge you to stop by and pay the students a visit - but be prepared to bring ideas!

Destler's Signature

Bill Destler