Category Archives: Academics

RIT among the top universities in the nation

aerial shot of RIT brick and glass buildings in foreground with trees and blue sky in background.

Rochester Institute of Technology is among the top third “National Universities,” and among the top 50 choices of high school guidance counselors, according to "U.S. News & World Report" rankings. In this year's rankings, RIT also tied for 43rd among 145 national universities as a “best value school,” comparing the value of the education received to the price a student pays. More.

RIT named among the nation’s ‘Best 384 Colleges’

Rochester Institute of Technology is considered one of the nation’s best universities for undergraduate education, according to The Princeton Review. The education-services company features RIT in the just-published 2019 edition of its annual book "The Best 384 Colleges." Only about 15 percent of America’s 2,500 four-year colleges and only four colleges outside the U.S. are profiled in the book, which is one of The Princeton Review’s most popular guides.

Students cited RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf as “providing amazing accommodations for deaf and hard-of-hearing students who attend the university, including notetaking, interpreters and CPrint technology.” More.

RIT students learn value of entrepreneurship through Simone Center, Saunders College, NTID joint program

Manufacturing machine with small blue round disks.

Rochester Institute of Technology student Jim Heaney started his rapid manufacturing and prototyping business when he was just 14 years old. Five years later, and with the guidance of RIT’s Saunders Summer Startup Program, Heaney and his team are hoping a successful pitch to potential investors will take their business to the next level.

Heaney’s business, Venator Technologies, is among 15 student start-up companies in the program, which encourages multidisciplinary student teams to jumpstart their ventures at the small-business launch pad in hopes of kick starting real companies. It culminates with Investor Demo Night, which will be held at 6 p.m. on Aug. 8 in Ingle Auditorium, Student Alumni Union. A networking reception immediately follows. The event is free and open to the public.

Creating a backpack that suits the packing needs of today’s gamers, solving mass refrigeration concerns on Sub-Saharan farms, and developing a wearable device and mobile app that helps veterans transition into civilian life are a few of the uniquely innovative early-stage business ideas created by student teams during this year’s program.

The program is sponsored by Saunders College of Business and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, and is hosted by the Albert J. Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.          

Throughout the summer, each of the startups is offered a stipend, a team expense fund, working space in Institute Hall and support from RIT faculty, assigned mentors and community business leaders.

Heaney, a second-year industrial engineering major from Montgomery, N.Y., says that his experience with the Saunders Summer Startup Program has helped him develop confidence in his business and has moved his team ahead of the pack.

“Even though my business is somewhat established, this program has provided my team with details on the finer points of business including access to countless business contacts, information on marketing and research and development funding, and tips on effective public speaking and pitching to investors, which are all so invaluable to running a successful business,” said Heaney. “Thanks to the top-notch mentoring that we’ve received from our entrepreneurship coaches and the staff at The Construct at RIT, we have learned how to create a solid foundation for our business.”

This summer’s student teams are:

  • Sniffy: A mobile app that improves the relationship between humans and animals by providing incentives for dog walking, and information on pet stores, groomers and other dog owners.
  • Op-Sixx: A support network comprised of wearable devices and a mobile app that connects veterans and their families to help them transition into civilian life.  
  • OurDiet App: An easy-to-follow direct resource offering personalized information based off of an individual’s self-described disease database.
  • Phase Innovations LLC: Provides novel stack-based technologies for energy conversion and storage applications.
  • TERP (two student teams): Aims to become a central marketplace for sign language interpreting services, making it easier for deaf and hearing people to submit interpreter requests.
  • PAL: A wearable technology company that empowers the autism spectrum disorder community with early notification of triggered meltdowns.
  • QuickTix: Allows small, independent theaters and school districts to publish events, sell tickets and promote on social media. Immediate feedback is provided on sales numbers, money earned and seats filled. 
  • Project Object Tracker: Provides tracking software that enhances customer service by evaluating the position of customers in retail stores and calculating whether the customer has been waiting too long for service.
  • Venator Technologies: A multi-service manufacturing company utilizing 3D printing and laser cutting to serve small businesses and individual customers.
  • SerVu: Provides a platform that connects bar owners with potential bar employees that fit the culture and style of the establishments. 
  • Hive Refrigeration: Works to solve the issue of mass refrigeration and the reduction of food waste on Sub-Sharan farms for those lacking access to cold storage refrigeration.
  • Backpack for Gamers: Creates a backpack that suits the needs of modern-day gamers.
  • VeeTV: A video streaming service that offers programming with sign-language content
  • Tiger CGM: A glucose monitor designed to provide comfort, freedom, confidence, privacy and accuracy.

For more information on the Saunders Summer Startup, go to www.rit.edu/research/simonecenter/saunders-summer-start-program.

Study abroad experience highlight for hospitality student

Light skinned male with short brown hair wearing hoodie, tan jacket and backpack in front of a world map.

RIT/NTID's Connor Draughn wanted to get out of his comfort zone and try something new, so the hospitality and tourism management major decided to spend a semester studying at RIT Croatia.

“I learned a lot about myself,” said Draughn, who is from Raleigh, N.C. “For sure it is a highlight of my time at RIT.”

Draughn was helped by the Constellation Brands Study Abroad Fund, which supports hospitality students who want to study in Croatia.

Ginny Clark, senior vice president of Public Affairs for Constellation Brands, said given the importance of global learning, Constellation felt that this opportunity for RIT students would be a meaningful way to give back.

“Today’s business world is global—and the key to a successful global business is building strong, trusted relationships,” said Clark ’06, ’08 (hospitality and service management, service leadership and innovation). “Constellation believes that creating this scholarship opportunity for students to study abroad supports the experiential educational efforts that RIT sees as a critical component to a student’s education.”

Supporting hospitality students, Clark added, made sense for Constellation Brands, which is a global beverage alcohol company—but at its core is a hospitality company.

“It was quite natural that Constellation would see a strong connection with our philanthropy and the School of International Hospitality and Service Innovation,” she said.

Draughn, who got his associate degree in hospitality and services management from NTID in 2016, started pursuing a bachelor’s degree last year. He spent the fall semester of 2017 in Dubrovnik, Croatia, taking hospitality and tourism classes. He is minoring in history, he said, so he enjoyed living in the historic city and learning about the culture and the country.

After he graduates from RIT, Draughn said, he plans to pursue a master’s degree in hospitality and tourism. He hopes to one day become a travel coordinator for a professional sports team or for a Fortune 500 company.

The study abroad experience had such an impact on Draughn that after he returned, he got a job as a Global Ambassador coaching other RIT students about opportunities abroad.

“I like helping people,” Draughn said. “I like telling other students about my experience so they will think about doing something different while they are in school.”

RIT included in ‘Fiske Guide to Colleges’ 2019 edition

Blue and green oval with text that reads:

Rochester Institute of Technology is among the universities included in the 2019 edition of "Fiske Guide to Colleges."

The 2019 edition highlights RIT’s “big focus on connecting students with careers” and says RIT is “strong in anything related to computing, art and design and engineering.” The guide this year also cites RIT’s flexible general education program, which has added more than 80 academic minors within the past few years. More.

RIT/NTID earns international All Children Reading prize

Mel Chua (Co-PI), Stephen Jacobs (Senior Personnel), Tommie Sarchet (Senior Personnel), Kim Kurz (Co-PI) and Chris Kurz (PI)

Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf is one of five organizations from around the world that has earned a $250,000 grant to create literacy content for deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development announced the winners of the first phase of Sign On For Literacy, a global competition to source technology-based innovations that increase access to local sign languages and advance language and literacy outcomes among deaf children. Chosen by a panel of experts from a field of more than 100 applicants from 39 countries, each of the five phase-one winners will receive $25,000 in seed funding to pilot their innovations during the next phase of the competition.

RIT/NTID will develop open source software that enables communities to create literacy content in their country’s local and national sign languages to be shared via an open-content digital library of folktales. These digital libraries will be viewable from any web browser, can be hosted locally and remixed by individuals (including children) with simple text and video editing tools.

The RIT/NTID team, which includes Christopher Kurz, Mel Chua, Kim Brown Kurz, Tommie Sarchet and Stephen Jacobs, collaborated with the Philippine Federation of the Deaf and De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde to develop their proposal and will work together to bring folktales and sign language to deaf and hard-of-hearing Philippine children.

“Deaf and hard-of-hearing children around the world have limited access to literacy and deaf adults who use indigenous sign languages,” Christopher Kurz, one of the project leaders, said. “Our team’s innovation project includes folders of indigenous sign languages and folktales, so deaf children can learn the sign languages and read the stories with sign language support.

“We are firm believers in using technology to bridge indigenous sign languages to written languages, so deaf children can enjoy reading, thus broadening their access to language and learning.”

Launched in 2011 by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), World Vision and the Australian Government, All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development is a series of competitions that leverages science and technology to source, test, and disseminate scalable solutions to improve literacy skills of early grade learners in developing countries.

Rochester Institute of Technology is internationally recognized as a leader in computing, engineering, imaging technology, fine and applied arts, and for providing unparalleled support services for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. RIT is home to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

Established by the U.S. Congress in 1965, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf is the first and largest technological college in the world for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. NTID offers associate degree programs for deaf and hard-of-hearing students and provides support and access services for deaf and hard-of-hearing students who study in the other eight colleges of RIT. NTID also offers a bachelor’s degree program in sign language interpreting and a master’s degree program in secondary education for individuals interested in teaching deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Deaf and hard-of-hearing students come from all over the United States and around the world to take advantage of the opportunities available to them at RIT/NTID.

RIT is one of the nation’s top universities for NSF undergraduate research programs.

Blue globe with NSF in white letters across globe and gold spokes around the globe.

Rochester Institute of Technology is hosting seven federally funded research programs this summer, the most of any college in New York state. Summer Undergraduate Research for Students who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing in Applying Mathematical and Statistical Methods to Problems from the Sciences, led by Bonnie Jacob, assistant professor of mathematical modeling, is among the NSF undergraduate research programs happening at RIT this summer. More.

RIT/NTID travels to California to offer summer program for deaf teens

Brown background with green leaves and roots, and DATS in white at the bottom.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf is offering a free one-week summer program for college-bound deaf and hard-of-hearing students from the Central Valley California area to learn more about various careers related to agriculture and environmental science. This marks the first time RIT/NTID will offer a program on the West Coast.

Discovering Agriculture through STEM™, or DATS™, will run June 24-29 at Fresno State University for deaf and hard-of-hearing students entering grades 10, 11 and 12 in fall 2018.

Taught by deaf professors from RIT/NTID, the first and largest technological college in the world for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, located in Rochester, New York, students will discover what types of careers fit their interests; enjoy hands-on activities related to horticulture, solar energy, agriculture, food science and sustainable engineering; create their own solar USB charging device to take home; experience life on a college campus and meet other deaf and hard-of-hearing students with similar interests.

The program will have a mixture of career exploration and STEM workshops, including The Invisible World of Microbes; Curds, Whey, & Cones, Dirt… it’s good for you!; Solar Panel Charger; and Irrigation. Students also will be touring FSU’s Creamery, Solar Panel Facility, Planetarium and Water Irrigation Facility.

Since students and instructors will have various communication preferences, RIT/NTID is contracting with the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Service Center in Fresno to ensure interpreters are present for all courses and tours. 

RIT/NTID is receiving support from FSU’s Department of Communicative Sciences and Deaf Studies as well as the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Service Center and California’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.   

The program is open to students who are California residents residing in Central Valley, and financial support for travel is available.

For more information, visit http://www.ntid.rit.edu/dats

NTID-supported delegates offer wisdom to fellow graduates

Left, a dark-skinned female in glasses, grad cap, gown and cord; right a light-skinned female in cap gown and cords.

Among the 23 commencement delegates at Rochester Institute of Technology’s commencement ceremonies May 11 and 12 were two deaf students who shared their own stories of overcoming obstacles and imparted advice to their fellow graduates.

Paula MacDonald, the undergraduate delegate for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf from Cumberland, Ontario, Canada, graduated with an associate degree in computer aided drafting technology.

She completed a co-op with Fulcrum Engineering, where she prepared drawings and specifications for structural engineering projects. At RIT/NTID, she served as president of the Deaf International Student Association and was active with the Deaf Basketball Association and the Deaf Volleyball Association. MacDonald will be transferring to the bachelor’s degree program in civil engineering technology at RIT and plans to become a civil/structural engineer.

In her presentation, MacDonald encouraged her fellow graduates to follow their passions, be an inspiration to themselves and others and to become leaders in their families, communities and beyond.

“It’s such a wonderful honor to stand here and give my speech, to represent you all, as a deaf aboriginal woman in engineering,” she said.

Joan "Jo" Bempong, the undergraduate delegate for the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, is from Irving, Texas. She earned combined bachelor’s/master’s degrees in computer engineering with a minor in Deaf cultural studies.

She completed co-ops at Texas Instruments, Sandia National Laboratories, and VTCSecure. Bempong was a recipient of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, the Outstanding Undergraduate Scholarship Award, the Deep Learning Classification Challenge Award and the Machine Intelligence Best Project Presentation Award. She was a finalist in both the Digital Rochester GREAT Award for student achievement and the RIT Tiger Tank competition. She was invited to present her work at the 25th Anniversary Congress on Women’s Health, and has accepted a full-time position at Texas Instruments.

Bempong used her own story of refusing to accept limitations because of her deafness and advised fellow graduates to, “Be extraordinary! Be rebellious. Be different. Take a stab at something you believe in and go for it. Do not be afraid to fail. When you do fail, fail hard and fail fast. Learn from your mistakes and keep on learning. And remember to ask for help when you need it.”

RIT/NTID students among RIT’s 2018 Legacy Leaders

Group of female students, each holding a blue folder.

Three RIT/NTID graduating seniors were recognized as part of the Legacy Leadership program of RIT's Center for Women and Gender and the Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement. They are:

Brianna Conrad, an American Sign Language-English Interpretation major from Frederick, Maryland

Kaitlyn Shirey, an American Sign Language-English Interpretation major from Ambler, Pennsylvania

Britta Schwall, a business management major from Pflugerville, Texas

The Legacy Leadership program recognizes the achievements and leadership of RIT graduating women students. Students are self-nominated and must obtain two letters of support from the RIT or outside community detailing their civic responsibility and leadership. 

The selected Legacy Leaders attended the 2018 Women’s Career Achievement Dinner held on April 30, 2018, in the Gordon Field House as guests of the Center for Women and Gender and Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement.