Monthly Archives: May 2017

Balancing Act

Smiling female student with long brown hair and glasses standing in fron of a wall

Knowledge of Excel and general ledger skills allow Natalya Dmitriyeva to accomplish her monthly goal of balancing the books. Dmitriyeva, from Odessa, Ukraine, graduated May 2017 with a bachelor's degree in accounting. She already is working full time as an accounting specialist at Visions Hotels, a hotel management company in Rochester, New York. More






Deaf RIT graduate defines strength in the face of adversity

Amie Sankoh in a long-sleeved light color top, jeans and ankle boots sits w/sculpture of a roaring tiger with trees behind her.

Amie Sankoh has overcome many obstacles in her life—and her walk across the stage during this weekend’s commencement ceremony for RIT’s College of Science will mark the beginning of a new chapter.

The biochemistry student, who is deaf and supported by the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, will begin studying in August for her Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. One day she hopes to use her expertise to conduct groundbreaking research on vaccine development and disease prevention.

As a young student in the west African country of Sierra Leone, Sankoh struggled due to her deafness and a lack of resources. Her parents, refusing to accept failure, made the bold decision to send their 12-year-old daughter to the United States where she would live with her father’s best friend and his family, attend better schools and ultimately gain more opportunities.

Sankoh’s breakthrough came in high school, where her love for mathematics and chemistry flourished. She also learned sign language, which enabled her to break down communication barriers with other deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

“Once I discovered my love for math, which was very visual, I knew that I could do anything with my life,” she said. “My mind was set on attending RIT/NTID because I knew that it was the right fit for me.”

Throughout her academic career, Sankoh participated in internships at top companies like Dow Chemical Co. in Pennsylvania and credits NTID faculty and staff for teaching her how to strengthen her communication skills, advocate for herself and develop her love for Deaf culture.

“My parents have always had very high expectations of their children, and they greatly value education,” she said. “NTID has given me the confidence to believe in myself and affirm that I can make it, especially in a tough science field. I’ve learned how to work with people who are hearing and deaf, study alongside faculty researchers and sharpen my interview skills. I just know that I’m going to make it. I work really hard.”

At NTID, Sankoh was a member of the Organization of African Students (OAS), Ebony Club, the Student Life Team and supported Spectrum, the LGBTIQ and straight alliance. And in March, Sankoh also become a U.S. citizen.

“Amie is an amazing person who exemplifies how to grow oneself,” said Joseph Johnston, director of RIT’s Center for Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution. “Amie’s resiliency and optimistic attitude provided such benefits to herself and the RIT community. She is a very special human being and is one of my favorite students I have ever had the pleasure to work with.”

Sankoh added, “Life is hard and we all have challenges. I’ve fallen and have gotten back up every time. I’m proof that there is always a way to overcome challenges.”

At the University of Tennessee, Sankoh will have 24/7 access to interpreting and notetaking services and will also receive a stipend to conduct her research. She said although her father is somewhat shocked and surprised at her achievements, she knew, deep down, that he expected nothing less.

“My father is so impressed by everything that I’ve been able to accomplish. And I’m so proud that he will be able to watch me cross that stage and move one step closer to my achieving my dream.”

RIT business programs noted for excellence

Students with orange backpacks stand in front of brick building with metal awning and flanked with a wooden bench and plantings.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s graduate business programs continue to be noted for academic excellence globally among colleges and universities.

Eduniversal Masters Rankings 2017 cited six graduate business degree programs at RIT’s Saunders College of Business. The survey ranked the top universities within nine geographical zones. More.


Animation Career Review has named RIT the top game design school on the East Coast

Two people working on computer screens with animation on the screens and keyboards in front of them.

Animation Career Review has named Rochester Institute of Technology the top game design school on the East Coast. RIT also ranked third on the list of Top 50 Game Design Schools in the U.S.

The 2017 rankings were created by Animation Career Review, an online resource for aspiring animation, game design and development, graphic design and digital art professionals. The annual list also named RIT the top game design school in New York state and second best private school nationally.

“It’s great to be recognized for the hard work we put into our outstanding programs in games,” said David Schwartz, director of RIT’s School of Interactive Games and Media (IGM). “RIT stands out as a game design school because we provide opportunities for students and faculty to collaborate with others across the university—including RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences—and professionals in the industry.”

Animation Career Review noted that RIT offers several programs for aspiring game designers, including two bachelor’s degrees and one master’s. In fact, any student studying computing in RIT’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences has the opportunity to minor in game design and development.

RIT’s Bachelor of Science in game design and development provides a broad-based undergraduate education in computing while exposing students to the breadth of game design and development processes. The bachelor’s program in new media interactive development also explores casual games, in addition to new technologies and experiences with web, wearable and mobile computing.

Students who pursue a master’s degree in game design and development at RIT focus on the technical roots in the computing and information sciences disciplines, while simultaneously covering the breadth of the development landscape through involvement in topics, including computer graphics, game engines, interactive narrative and game world design. The degree culminates with a capstone project in which students create their own games.

RIT game design students can also work with RIT’s MAGIC Center, a nonprofit university-wide research and development laboratory and a for-profit production studio that assists in efforts to bring digital media creations up to marketplace standards and commercialization. RIT’s MAGIC Spell Studios, which officially launched in November and will move into a new building in 2018, focuses on nurturing and growing new companies and publishing and distributing their projects.

The ranking also highlights RIT’s emphasis on cooperative education—full-time paid work experiences that provide students with an opportunity to learn on the job in real-world industry settings. With help from the co-op program, graduates of RIT’s game design and development programs go on to work at companies including Microsoft, Rockstar Games, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Valve Corp. and Walt Disney Interactive.

For the full game design school rankings, go to

RIT is featured among ‘Colleges that Create Futures’

Logo of The Princeton Review in black with red curved arrow pointing up and right.

Rochester Institute of Technology is featured in the 2017 edition of The Princeton Review’s Colleges That Create Futures: 50 Schools That Launch Careers by Going Beyond the Classroom.

Out of nearly 1,000 colleges that The Princeton Review considered for this book, the 50 schools that made the cut comprise only about 2 percent of the nation’s approximately 3,000 four-year colleges. The Princeton Review said it chose the 50 schools based on data from its surveys of administrators and students at hundreds of universities between 2015 and 2017. Specifically, The Princeton Review editors weighed information about the colleges’ career center services; internship, externship, cooperative learning and collaborative research opportunities; and student engagement in community service and study abroad programs.

“RIT and the other colleges showcased in this book offer superb academics,” said the book’s author, Robert Franek, Senior VP-Publisher at The Princeton Review. “But what makes them stand out are the programs and services they offer outside the classroom which offer their students real-world experience, collaborative opportunities with faculty and networking opportunities with alumni, allowing them to graduate with outstanding job opportunities or acceptance to post-graduate studies at first-rate institutions.”

“RIT’s reputation among employers has bloomed over the past few decades, especially in Silicon Valley,” RIT alumnus Tad Hunt said in the book. “RIT graduates are known as something of a ‘secret weapon.’ I’ve been in Silicon Valley since 2000, and the reputation of RIT has grown immensely. When I first moved here, hardly [anybody] had heard of RIT. Now there is a huge number of alumni here working at all sizes of tech companies, and the RIT name is synonymous with folks that just ‘Get Stuff Done.’”

In its profile on RIT, the book says, “With 90 undergraduate programs in areas such as engineering, computing, information technology, engineering technology, business, hospitality, art, design, science, psychology, public policy, game design, photography, film and animation, health sciences, and biomedical sciences, RIT is laser-focused on creating students that are more than prepared to enter the job force. In fact, the RIT Class of 2015 boasts an enviable 95 percent undergraduate outcomes rate—the percentage of graduates who have entered the workforce, enrolled in further study, or are pursuing alternative plans (like military or volunteer service).”

In the book, RIT is cited for:

  • Excellence in its cooperative education program: “Cooperative education ensures that grads have relevant work experience to bring with them into a job interview right out of college... But beyond the security of employment after college, the students we surveyed said that they ultimately chose RIT because job satisfaction and working in a field they found interesting was important to them.”
  • Special interest housing: “If you are inspired by art, curious about computers, or passionate about photography, you may decide to live in one of RIT’s special-interest houses. Designed for students with shared interests, these seven self-governing houses offer a specific academic focus to residence-hall life. Here you’ll find programs and initiatives that range from the whimsical to the practical.”
  • The Construct, a makerspace on the fourth floor of Institute Hall, that provides materials and machinery in a workshop setting that students can use at no cost: “Designed from student feedback, The Construct serves the needs of innovative students seeking to create new products, inventions and applications… The makerspace also seeks to gain the involvement of a larger group of technologists and designers who emphasize general product design and development.”
  • Simone Center for Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship: “This program allows students to bring their entrepreneurial minds to the table and to potentially grow into something they can make a life on. Because the program enlists an equal number of technology, creative, and business students, participants can develop effective, well-rounded teams within their cohorts to develop and advance new business and technology ideas.”
  • MAGIC Spell Studios: “As part of a historical, first-of-its-kind venture, RIT’s MAGIC Spell Studios is a multi-disciplinary launchpad for digital products, including games, apps, animation, film and interactive art installations. RIT will be launching its new facility in 2018 in an effort to further link RIT’s internationally ranked academic programs with high-tech facilities needed to commercialize computer gaming, film and animation, and digital media projects.”
  • Leadership Institute and Community Service Center: “Understanding that students have busy schedules, the Center offers drop-in workshops, flexible programing and weekend retreats. It also offers certificate programs that can be completed in one to two years totally free of charge to RIT students…Coursework gives students a grounding in the theory and practice of leadership and a concrete vocabulary of experiences to share with potential employers during job interviews. It also gets students in touch with the practical concerns of the community through service work.”
  • RIT Alumni Network: Because of its extensive co-op programs, RIT sits atop a vast professional network of friends, alumni, and corporate partners, together providing students with career development support, counsel, friendship, reinforcement and constructive examples. A number of different online mentoring networks make it easy for students to connect with someone in their field who can offer advice and support.”

Schools included in the book are profiled in alphabetical order and are not ranked. Each college profile has general information about the school, plus sections on its distinctive programs and institutes, career center services, and unique hands-on, experiential learning opportunities.


Pawtucket Red Sox to hold Deaf Awareness Night Thursday, May 11

Poster for Pawtucket Red Sox Deaf Awareness Night.

On Thursday, May 11, the Pawtucket Red Sox will host their first-ever Deaf Awareness Night at McCoy Stadium, as the team hosts the Rochester Red Wings.  

Designed to bring more recognition and awareness of deaf and hard-of-hearing members of the New England community, Deaf Awareness Night expects to bring together more than 100 area deaf and hard-of-hearing young people and adults, including students, faculty, staff, alumni and administrators of Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, the world’s first and largest technological college for deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

The event will include RIT mascot RITchie along with PawSox mascots PAWS and SOX to teach ASL signs prior to the game. The national anthem will be performed in American Sign Language, and handouts with the ASL alphabet and highlights of deaf baseball great William “Dummy” Hoy's contribution to major league baseball will be distributed.  

Music videos for popular songs "Centerfield" and "Happy" created in sign language by Camp Mark 7 Deaf Film Camp participants will be viewed on the Jumbotron, and trivia questions will be shown between innings to help raise awareness of deafness and Deaf culture.  

For tickets, visit

RIT/NTID exhibit sheds light on deaf pioneers through interactive app

Screen shot of a computer game scene from the Civil War with tents and barrels, fire pit and pitcher w/trees in the background.

A draw for young people or anyone interested in American Sign Language and history, “Deaf Pioneers Adventure App Development” is sure to captivate guests at Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival. The exhibit, located in the Student Alumni Union’s Fireside Lounge, takes viewers on an interactive journey alongside Laura Redden Searing, a deaf 19th-century journalist and poet. Through unique storytelling, exhibit creators will present a historically accurate portrayal of the woman who has become an inspiration to deaf people around the country. The single mother was a Civil War correspondent, world traveler and adventurer, and learned four languages and interviewed Abraham Lincoln at the White House using pen and paper.

“Traditionally, stories like these are taught using books, but we wanted to use technology so viewers can read and see the story in American Sign Language. It was exciting to think about what this might look like as an app,” said Chris Kurz, associate professor in the master's degree program in secondary education of students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. “While traditional modes of learning are still valuable, we thought it would be fascinating to tell historically accurate stories of some amazing deaf pioneers using animation and 3D modeling, and virtual reality with 360-degree views. And non-ASL users can also learn about these pioneers in English. This is a new approach in which the user really has a sense of involvement in the story.”

Guests to the exhibit will be able to use tablets or a desktop computer to see Redden Searing in a classroom at the Missouri School for the Deaf in 1855 and also on the battlefield where she often met with Gen. Ulysses Grant during the Civil War. Users can also play a telegram-based game and a drag-and-drop train game where users arrange puzzle pieces to “travel” from St. Louis to Washington, D.C., a route often taken by Redden Searing.

The team—three faculty members and seven students enrolled in different majors, including game design and development, film and animation, and the Master of Science in secondary education major, all from NTID—began working on the project last summer and hope to complete the animated story and 13 games in the app by the end of this summer. Then, development to incorporate other deaf pioneers into the app will begin.

“This has been a truly unique experience for all of the students and faculty members involved,” added Kurz. “We are happy to help different kinds of people learn in different ways. And we think that our exhibit will appeal to many different audiences, including deaf and hearing children, those interested in learning about American Sign Language, techies who like app development and history buffs. There is something for everyone.”