Monthly Archives: February 2015

RIT/NTID Alumna Brandi Rarus Presentation and Book Signing

RIT/NTID alumna Brandi Rarus will give a presentation and book signing from 7-9 p.m. Thurs., March 12 in the CSD-Student Development Center, rooms 1300/1310. Rarus is an author and a former Miss Deaf America. She is married Tim Rarus, an advocate for deaf people whose work inspired the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act. They live in Austin, Texas, with their four children: three hearing boys and the youngest, Zoe, a deaf girl they adopted. Today, she and her family are tirelessly dedicated to ensuring all children find their rightful place in our world. 

David Nelson ’81, ’85 Named RIT/NTID Distinguished Alumnus

David Nelson is senior community outreach specialist in Government Affairs at the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (“Amtrak”). He is responsible for providing accessibility information, managing outreach activities by Amtrak to the disability community and overseeing internal projects to ensure accessible compliance. Prior to joining Amtrak, David worked for the Honorable Tony Coelho (D-CA), who was one of the authors of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which marks its 25th anniversary in July 2015.

David is an active member of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and in 2004 received NAD’s prestigious Frederick C. Schreiber Distinguished Service Award. He now represents NAD on issues concerning telecommunication and transportation. David served as president of the District of Columbia Association of the Deaf and the Florida School for the Deaf Alumni Association, and gives presentations on Deaf culture and how to best serve deaf and hard-of-hearing customers to various groups and companies.

An NTID community reception honoring David will be held on Thursday, April 16, and he will be honored along with Distinguished Alumni Award winners from RIT’s other colleges at a ceremony at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 17 in Webb Auditorium. Both events will be open to all faculty, staff, students, and alumni. 

RIT/NTID Professor Named to Distinguished Fulbright Specialist Roster

Adding to his remarkable achievements in and out of the classroom, Todd Pagano, associate professor of chemistry and director of the Laboratory Science Technology program at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, has been named to the Fulbright Specialist Program. The program, which provides Fulbright Specialists two- to six-week grants, promotes linkages between U.S. scholars and professionals in select disciplines and their counterparts at host institutions in more than 140 countries around the world. Pagano is still waiting for word on where he might be placed.

“The globalization of science is upon us,” said Pagano in his Fulbright application. “Today, scientists and corporations work across borders and diverse cultures. U.S. professors are increasingly involved with students from diverse cultures, while attempting to teach all students to be ‘global citizens.’ My goal is to develop ways to improve the teaching of chemistry while substantially broadening opportunities in the field for traditionally underserved students in an effort to narrow gaps in the attainment of education and employment in the field. I would like to work with host institutions to develop chemistry curricula and establish sustainable programs, interventions, and research opportunities for disadvantaged students.”

At NTID, Pagano developed the Laboratory Science Technology program, the world’s only chemical technology program for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. In 2012, he was named U.S. Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He has also received the American Chemical Society Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences, sponsored by The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, and the Stanley Israel Medal for Diversity in Chemistry from the American Chemical Society. He is an American Chemical Society Fellow and was named to Rochester Business Journal’s ‘Forty Under 40’ list of professionals who have made significant community contributions. He has also earned two faculty humanitarian awards as well as RIT’s Richard and Virginia Eisenhart Award for Excellence in Teaching.

“As a scientist, my hypothesis is that my interactions abroad would uncover fundamental differences in approaches to serving students in educational science programs, but also deep-rooted similarities in the innate care and desire for populations to help those who are less fortunate,” added Pagano. “I am excited about the prospect of extending my quest to broaden educational and research opportunities for underserved students overseas, and believe the Fulbright Specialist program is the ideal vehicle to do so.”

Technology Innovation: Impact of 3D Printing on Drone Technology

The use of 3D printing technology to create human body parts has been widely reported in the news lately, but what impact does this technology have on creating and improving drone “body” parts?

Steven Forney, a research associate for the Systems Management and Production Center at University of Alabama in Huntsville, presented “Technology Innovation: 3D Printing and Multi-rotors Drone Technology” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, in the CSD Student Development Center, National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Rochester Institute of Technology. A question-and-answer session follows the free presentation, which is part of this year’s Edmund Lyon Memorial Lectureship Series.

Forney, who is deaf and earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical and electrical engineering from RIT in 2012, will explore the rise of 3D printing and how it benefits innovation and drone technology. According to Forney, 3D printing is playing a significant role in helping with the drones’ continuous field maintenance and repair, as well as increasing innovation, improving communication, reducing development costs and garnering interest from clients and contractors. Forney is also an expert in reverse engineering and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in human-computer interaction from RIT.

He will be using American Sign Language. Interpreters and captioning services will be available.

The purpose of the lectureship series is to bring distinguished speakers to NTID to share expertise and scholarly contributions that stand on the cutting edge of advancement in the education and career success of deaf persons.

All His World’s a Stage

For nearly 20 years, Joe Hamilton has been behind the scenes of more than 100 productions at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. But he’s not only behind the scenes, he and his theater practicum students have also designed and constructed those scenes.

Each year, 300 to 600 RIT/NTID students are involved in NTID Performing Arts, whether they perform, design and construct sets, paint, learn about lighting, apply theatrical make-up or work in the costume shop. About 20 or 30 students each semester work with Hamilton, spending much of their time measuring, hammering, drilling or painting in a workshop behind the Robert F. Panara Theatre.

Hamilton, a fourth-generation deaf individual who graduated from RIT/NTID in 1990 with a degree in manufacturing process, started work at NTID in 1996. As stage manager, he fulfills all technical director duties for NTID’s cultural and creative studies program, and this fall completed work on his 100th production. He keeps a log of notes from each production in his office, and when he can, he’ll slip the number of his current production into the set, such as “102” as the house number on a set during the NTID Holiday Show.

“I am a handyman. I enjoy building anything from blueprints,” Hamilton said. “I enjoy working with the students, and working with my hands, combining creativity, artistry and mechanics.”

Two of his most challenging productions were Peter Pan in 2002, in which characters had to go airborne, and The Diary of Anne Frank in 2001, where a 20-by-20-foot window was built and lifted in the air to reveal the characters who appeared to be hiding in a basement.

“He’s always finding a new solution and solving problems,” said Aaron Kelstone, program director for NTID’s Performing Arts. “I’m surprised how patient he is. He’s got 20 to 30 people all day around him asking him what’s next, and he has to make sure they aren’t getting hurt and aren’t doing something wrong.”

Chris Brucker, an architecture major from Schenectady, N.Y., joined Hamilton’s classes because he loved woodshop in high school.

“He is always very patient when it comes to teaching students who are inexperienced in woodshop,” Brucker said. “He always uses visual teaching instead of giving a lecture since the majority of deaf students depend on visual learning, so students always learn something new every day.”

Brucker said he learned skills in Hamilton’s shop that he’ll use after college. “I can remodel a house, fix electrical things, even build an entire house, and I owe it all to technical theater.”

Hamilton says making a difference in his students’ lives and seeing their work come to life on the stage is his main reward.

“I love working here,” Hamilton said. “It’s a very challenging job that keeps me going.”

Web extra

For a closer look at Joe Hamilton’s work, go to