Category Archives: Academics

RIT/NTID one of three finalists for global literacy competition

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Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf is one of three finalists in a global competition to source technology solutions that increase access to local sign languages and advance language and literacy outcomes for deaf children in developing countries.

The “Sign On For Literacy” global competition announced today that RIT/NTID will receive $150,000 (in addition to the $25,000 in seed funding they were awarded as semifinalists in 2018) to pilot their World Around You platform in the Philippines. Collaborating with the Philippine Federation of the Deaf and De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, World Around You documents, collects and shares local sign and written languages through an open-content digital library of folktales offered in an interactive bilingual format.

“Sign On For Literacy” is a program of All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development—a partnership of USAID, World Vision and the Australian Government, and will enable RIT/NTID to work with Second Avenue Learning, a local company in Rochester, N.Y., to develop technology that enables the creation and implementation of stories and language games. RIT/NTID will continue working with the Deaf community and partners in the Philippines on story creation, demonstration and testing.

“We are looking forward to working with different communities—Filipino deaf, deaf students, teachers of the deaf, parents of deaf children, and technical experts—while we develop and field test World Around You,” said Dr. Christopher Kurz, an instructional/support faculty member in RIT/NTID’s master of science program in secondary education of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. “The goal of our project is to provide access to literacy for deaf children in their own sign languages in the Philippines, and eventually all around the world.”

The other finalists include Manos Unidas, working with students in Nicaragua, and eKitabu’s Studio, based in Nairobi, Kenya.

 

RIT moves up a classification among research universities

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Rochester Institute of Technology is now listed as a “high research activity institution” or “R2” under the updated Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning.

The R2 designation, the second-highest classification, puts RIT among the top 6 percent of colleges and universities in the nation, those conferring at least 20 research/scholarship doctorates annually and spending a minimum $5 million a year on research. Carnegie surveys more than 4,000 universities and puts 139 in this classification, with an additional 122 in the top “very high research” group.

“This change in designation reflects RIT’s continued emphasis on growing our research capabilities and incorporating research as an element of the education we’re providing across a broad spectrum of academic disciplines,” said Ellen Granberg, RIT provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “Through research, RIT students and faculty are collaborating to push the boundaries of creativity and innovation.”

Ryne Raffaelle, RIT’s vice president for research and associate provost, said research expenditures have been an upward trajectory for the last several years as RIT and reflect a growing research portfolio. In fiscal year 2017, RIT had a record $51 million in expenditures.

 

RIT/NTID astrophysicist develops technique to locate undiscovered planets, celestial bodies

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A revolutionary technique developed by an astrophysicist at Rochester Institute of Technologycould allow for a better understanding of the fates of solar systems when their stars cease to shine.

Jason Nordhaus, an NTID assistant professor of physics and a faculty member in RIT's PhD program in astrophysical sciences and technology, has developed a system of complex 3D super-computer algorithms able to pinpoint the existence of previously undiscovered planets and celestial bodies associated with dying stars. His research is partially funded by a three-year grant from the NASA/Space Telescope Science Institute.

“The deaths of ordinary stars are marked by extraordinary transitions,” explains Nordhaus. “Iconic high-resolution images of dying stars have transformed our understanding of these events. In the past decade, we have discovered that this process of death that produces these spectacular images is linked to the presence of another star or planet in the system. However, large amounts of dust that mask these companions make them difficult to directly detect. We will continue to uncover the nature of these hidden companions and pin down where they orbit in these systems.”

Nordhaus explains that when a star dies, its physical size drastically increases and changes its shape. In fact, Nordhaus predicts that when our sun dies—billions of years from now—it will expand, reaching Earth, and will interact with other nearby planets, such as Jupiter.

Nordhaus’ technique was previously used to infer the presence of a hidden planet in the dying star L2 Puppis, which was later detected by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, a collection of radio telescopes in northern Chile that observe electromagnetic radiation.

This summer, Nordhaus will work with several deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing students at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf to study four systems for which Nordhaus has comprehensive data obtained over the past two decades. They are hoping that their 3D computer simulations will help determine which planets survive the death of their parent stars and which are ultimately destroyed.

“This helps us understand the fate of our own solar system, the fates of other star systems in the galaxy, and improve our understanding of how stars and planets interact,” said Nordhaus.

In addition to performing this groundbreaking research, Nordhaus is a member of RIT’s Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation, whose simulations of merging black hole binaries were used by the LIGO Project to confirm the breakthrough detection of gravitational waves from binary black holes in space.

RIT’s online programs ranked among best in the nation

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Rochester Institute of Technology has been recognized for having some of the best online programs in the nation.

The 2019 U.S. News & World Report Best Online Programs rankings, released today, featured RIT on its lists for business, computing, engineering and undergraduate online education. RIT ranked:

  • 26th in the nation for “Best Online MBA Programs,” for the online executive MBA program offered by Saunders College of Business
  • 41st for “Best Online Information Technology Programs,” offered by the Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences
  • 63rd for “Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs,” offered by the Kate Gleason College of Engineering
  • 217th for “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs”

The biggest gain was RIT’s online executive MBA program, which jumped 10 spots on the list since last year.

“It is an honor to again be recognized on a national level, amongst a growing collection of online education providers,” said Jacqueline Mozrall, dean of RIT’s Saunders College of Business. “What makes our executive MBA program so unique is the fusion of business, technology and leadership that we are able to offer here at RIT, deployed using a highly interactive, cohort-based, online pedagogy.”

U.S. News chose factors that weigh how these programs are being delivered and their effectiveness at awarding affordable degrees in a reasonable amount of time.

The rankings are based on data collected from the nation’s colleges and universities, which are then weighted by certain criteria, including engagement, faculty credentials and training, expert opinion, student excellence, and student services and technologies. Altogether, 1,545 online degree programs are cataloged in the usnews.com searchable directory—55 more than the previous year. All programs are required to be more than a year old with at least 10 students enrolled.

While these rankings only pertain to full degree programs, RIT also offers a wide variety of online education opportunities designed around industry standards, employer demand and the perspectives of our global network through RIT Online. For more information, contact RIT Online or the Offices of Graduate & Part-time Enrollment Services.

The full U.S. News rankings are available online at http://www.usnews.com/online.

New York backs RIT’s life science initiative to upgrade Genomics Research Lab Cluster

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Rochester Institute of Technology has received $1.5 million from New York state to equip its Genomics Research Lab Cluster, a suite of laboratories aimed at expanding industrial partnerships, commercialization and entrepreneurship activities, talent development and academic programs in the life sciences.

The funding was included in the $86.5 million awarded to the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. The award is part of the eighth annual round in which 10 regional councils competed for $763 million in state funding.

The $1.5 million in Empire State Development grant to upgrade RIT’s Genomics Research Lab Cluster will support and strengthen the growing life sciences industry sector in the Finger Lakes region by enabling RIT to expand its research, technology transfer and talent development capabilities in this field.

“We are thankful to the Council and Governor Andrew Cuomo for this significant support and for recognizing the contribution that the Genomics Lab Cluster will make to the state’s assets in the life sciences,” said RIT President David Munson. “Research and tech transfer in the life sciences represent a significant segment of the regional and state economy, spanning applications in multiple medical, energy, environmental and agricultural fields.”

The grant will help increase faculty research in the life sciences and enrollment capacity in RIT’s life sciences academic degree programs, producing graduates skilled in genomic data acquisition and analytics. The state award will support RIT’s $10 million investment in life sciences equipment. Matching funds will come from a combination of RIT resources and industry funding.

Access to sophisticated analytical and modeling tools will enhance research addressing antibiotic resistant bacterial strains and regional agricultural challenges related to crop development and production techniques and remediation of contaminated soil and water. The Genomics Research Lab Cluster will also promote on-site research collaborations with industrial partners. 

The lab cluster will occupy 8,000 square feet within the Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences in Gosnell Hall on the RIT campus.

RIT officially opens new MAGIC Spell Studios building

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Rochester Institute of Technology opened the newest building on campus—the 52,000-square-foot MAGIC Spell Studios. The building brings together RIT’s academic strengths in game design and development, film and animation, and digital media. The new facility—the only one of its kind in the Northeast—boasts the latest in technology and design, rivaling media production studios in New York City and Hollywood. More.

RIT/NTID earns National Science Foundation funding to explore augmented reality technology

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Using augmented reality to make science, technology, engineering and math content more accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing learners in live presentation settings is the goal of a $258,000 grant from the National Science Foundation awarded to Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Researchers and developers at RIT/NTID’s Center on Access Technology Laboratory will focus on hands-on learning and comprehension at science centers and museums.

According to researchers, prior work on augmented reality in education has shown positive results, however, this work has largely overlooked the deaf and hard-of-hearing population. This project represents the first step in a partnership between RIT/NTID and the Rochester Museum & Science Center, which includes the Rochester Challenger Learning Center.

The proposed project involves developing an AR platform that will allow deaf and hard-of-hearing visitors to receive signed or captioned instruction while still looking at and/or interacting with exhibits. The platform will allow for transmission of live and spontaneous (not only scripted or pre-recorded) instruction at museums and planetariums nationwide.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing learners, ages 11 to 14 from around the United States, will serve as a test audience for the pilot implementation. The team will collect data on the use of this technology to help set future directions for additional research and development.

This project focuses on broadening participation and promoting innovation in informal STEM learning, which is crucial for deaf and hard-of-hearing youth, who are frequently excluded from informal and incidental learning STEM experiences and subsequently enter STEM professions at significantly lower rates than the hearing population,” said Wendy Dannels, RIT/NTID research associate professor and principal investigator on the project.

Dannels says the development team working on these AR technologies will be composed primarily of deaf and hard-of-hearing students and faculty, framing the community as a source of technical innovation rather than simply being recipients of these solutions.

“This project represents a first step in setting future directions for research and development and to make educational materials more accessible to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community,” she added.

RIT among schools to receive $1 million for clean energy project

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Rochester Institute of Technology has won $1 million as part of the Energy to Lead Competition, which challenges New York colleges and universities to develop plans for local clean energy projects on campus and in their communities as the state seeks innovative solutions to combat climate change.

RIT will create a platform that integrates multiple data sources to enable a building’s existing automation system to manage operation schedules, adjust ventilation rates in classrooms and respond to peak demand days, according to Enid Cardinal, senior sustainability adviser to the president. Cardinal will serve as lead principal investigator on the project.

The platform, once tested and deployed at RIT, will be tested at Monroe Community College’s downtown campus and then made publicly available free of charge for other institutions to leverage. The project is expected to result in the avoidance of 108 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

“Through the ‘Energy to Lead’ competition, New York is fostering clean energy innovation to help fight climate change and protect our environment,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “I commend the students and faculty for their steadfast commitment to improving their campus and community, helping to create a cleaner, greener New York for all.”

The Energy to Lead Competition, announced by Gov. Cuomo in 2015, is part of the REV Campus Challenge, which recognizes and supports colleges and universities across New York state that strive to meet their financial, environmental, academic and community goals through clean energy solutions.

As a signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and member of the REV Campus Challenge, RIT has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030.

“This project leverages many of RIT’s strengths, including our innovative spirit, the cutting-edge nature of our academic programs, and the way our campus serves as a laboratory for experiential learning,” RIT President David Munson said during yesterday’s announcement of the Energy to Lead grant inside RIT’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability. “We applaud Gov. Cuomo for investing in research that addresses solutions to global challenges and for recognizing the important role of higher education in working toward these solutions.”

Applicant schools were required to submit projects which demonstrate innovation in one or more of the following areas: project design, business model, partnerships, and/or curriculum integration. Schools and universities were also required to describe the project’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions, how they would measure success and how they would use the funding to advance the project. These projects are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2,125 metric tons over the next five years.

The competition is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and open to two- or four-year public or private colleges or universities. The competition challenges schools to develop ideas for innovative projects in energy efficiency, renewable energy or greenhouse gas emission reduction on campus, in the classroom and in surrounding communities.   

This round of Energy to Lead included 24 project submissions from 21 different public and private colleges and universities across the state. Applications were reviewed by an evaluation panel and winners were chosen based on project cost effectiveness, innovativeness, energy efficiency and clean energy measures, the impact on greenhouse gas emissions and how funding would be used to advance the project on campus and in the community.

For more information on Energy to Lead, go to NYSERDA’s website.