The Dyer Arts Center is proud to be celebrating 50 years of artists at NTID. Since the pilot group of 70 students enrolled in 1968, RIT/NTID has seen thousands of talented deaf and hard-of-hearing artists. In conjunction with NTID’s 50th anniversary this summer, the Dyer Arts Center is celebrating 50 of those artists by displaying their works in 50 Artists, 50 Years. This exhibition contains over one hundred works, including paintings, sculptures, photography, mixed media, videos, and textiles. 50 Artists, 50 Years opens Friday, June 22, 2018 and will run until Saturday, October 20, 2018.
Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf inducted 26 new members into the Delta Xi chapter of the Epsilon Pi Tau honor society at a ceremony May 1.
Epsilon Pi Tau recognizes the academic excellence of students in fields devoted to the study of technology and the preparation of practitioners for the technology professions. Epsilon Pi Tau also extends the honor of membership to outstanding practitioners in the technology professions, to scholars, and/or to persons who have significantly supported or advanced technology professions.
With support from DeafTEC, an NSF-sponsored center at RIT/NTID providing resources for high schools and community colleges that educate deaf and hard-of-hearing students in STEM-related programs, the Delta Xi chapter of the honor society was established at RIT in 2015 for deaf and hard-of-hearing students in associate-level NTID technology programs. This chapter is the only chapter of Epsilon Pi Tau specifically for deaf and hard-of-hearing students and the first NTID honor society.
“It is one of the highlights of the academic year to welcome our talented, hard-working students into the EPT honor society,” said Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “It is a validation of their hours of studying and academic endeavors in and out of the classroom. They make their families and RIT/NTID proud.”
Student honorees include:
- Miko A. Arayata of Quezon City, Philippines; arts and imaging studies
- Megan L. Armstrong of Webster, New York; laboratory science technology
- Cassandra Banania of Chino Hills, California; arts and imaging studies
- Courtney S. Boyer of Decatur, Georgia; computer-aided drafting technology
- Taher A Chowdhury of Ozone Park, New York; accounting technology
- Gabriella L. Ertle of Aliso Viejo, California; management information systems
- Demeisha A. Heath of Brooklyn, New York; business technology
- Macee R. Helmick of West Henrietta, New York; business technology
- Phillip Ho of San Jose, California; computer-aided drafting technology
- Israelle S. Johnson of Baltimore, Ohio; laboratory science technology
- Otto Kingstedt of Washington, D.C. and Stockholm, Sweden; arts and imaging sciences
- Abbigail J. Kolar of Kearney, Nebraska; business
- Ping Liu of Harbin, China; applied computer technology
- Dulce Mireles of Enigma, Georgia; arts and imaging sciences
- Aaron Parker of Lakewood, Ohio; mobile application development
- Philip Pham of San Jose, California; 3D graphics technology
- Victoria Pon of Queens, New York; arts and imaging studies
- Mark L. Redekas of Manchester, Connecticut; applied computer technology
- Kathryn Richer of North Syracuse, New York, computer-aided drafting technology
- Sabrina L. Serna of Lake View Terrace, California; laboratory science technology
- Signe Tarmey of Charlestown, New Hampshire; laboratory science technology
- Michael Wentland of Lynnwood, Washington; applied mechanical technology
- Mia C. White of Littleton, Colorado; business accounting
Faculty honorees include:
- Mitchell R. Bacot, instructional/support faculty, NTID Science and Mathematics Department
- Edward Mineck, interim chairperson, NTID Visual Communication Studies Department
- Mark J. Pfuntner, chairperson, NTID Business Studies Department
Eric Kunsman, a lecturer for the Visual Communications Studies Department in RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf and an adjunct professor for the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences (CIAS), is the fifth recipient of the Edline M. Chun Award for Outstanding Teaching and Service.
Named in honor of the late RIT adjunct professor Edline Chun, the award has been given annually since 2014 to a CIAS adjunct faculty member who exemplifies excellence and dedication in teaching and who has given outstanding service to a CIAS-affiliated school and to the college.
“This award means a lot to me since I knew and admired Edline, and I know what it represents,” said Kunsman, who also owns Booksmart Studio, a fine art digital printing studio in Rochester, N.Y., specializing in innovative techniques and services for photographers and book artists. “Owning my own business, I know the importance of staying relevant and passionate in the industry, and I try to bring that excitement to the classroom.”
Before coming to RIT in 2000, Kunsman, a native of Bethlehem, Pa., was an assistant professor at Mercer County Community College, where he also served as the coordinator of the photography program. He has led national workshops on photography and digital printing. He holds an MFA in book arts/printmaking from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and an MS in electronic publishing/graphic arts media, a BS in biomedical photography and BFA in fine art photography, all from RIT.
In addition, Kunsman’s photographs and books have been exhibited internationally and can be seen on display in several prominent collections throughout the United States.
“Eric is a dedicated and passionate member of the SPAS team who exemplifies all of the qualities of an outstanding faculty member,” said Therese Mulligan, administrative chair of SPAS. “Whether he’s teaching students or playing a key role in SPAS initiatives such as the signature RIT Big Shot, Eric brings real-world industry knowledge to the classroom combined with a sincere interest in helping students learn the material and succeed in their careers.”
Ms. Chun was a well-respected and beloved faculty member who taught in CIAS for nearly two decades. Her colleagues in RIT’s School of Media Sciences described her as someone who “always went above and beyond to serve the students and the school with passion, integrity and the utmost class.”
Five teams of deaf and hard-of-hearing students from Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf went head-to-head April 25 during The Next Big Idea Competition, a Shark Tank-style business competition. Small World That, a central hub that connects the international deaf community through a website and app, took home the $5,000 first prize.
Judges from the competition’s sponsor, ZVRS, a video-relay service headquartered in Clearwater, Fla., reviewed projects of the team finalists, asked questions and selected first-, second- and third-place winners.
First place: Small World That (Sarah Stanislow, international and global studies major from Pittsford, N.Y.; Lauren Putz, international and global studies major from Naperville, Ill.; Rachel Soudakoff, MBA student from Burbank, Calif.; and Priyanka Patil, computer science graduate student from Mumbai, India) Through the Small World That platform, users can locate other deaf and hard-of-hearing people and signers around the world. According to the team, “the hope is for deaf people to take advantage of the small community we have and form new connections with each another in a convenient way.”
Second place: VeeTV (Andrew Cho, administrative support technology major from Hayward, Calif.; Vincent Venutolo, mobile and app development major from Bensalem, Pa.; and Sami Williamson, political science major from Hampton Bays, N.Y.) VeeTV is a media and entertainment company specializing in delivering media content to the deaf community. By bringing sign language to mass media on a streaming platform, the company enables the deaf community around the globe to enjoy their favorite movies, television shows, music videos, social media videos and more. VeeTV took home the $3,000 second-place prize.
Third place: BodyEasy (Tony Nguyen, industrial design major from Pennsauken, N.J.; John Huang, graduate business student from Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Evans Seraphin, applied computing major from Brooklyn, N.Y.) BodyEasy is a wearable assistive device that enables users to reduce the pressure on the back when lifting heavy objects. BodyEasy won the $2,000 third-place prize.
Other finalists included Yovato (Joseph Ruggieri, finance major from Hopewell, N.J., and Michael Wentland, mechanical engineering technology major from Lynnwood, Wash.), who hopes to revitalize the sports industry by preventing knee injuries, and ASL Ripple (Emmanuel Perrodin-Njoku, biomedical sciences major from Washington, D.C.; Kaytlyn Johnson, Master of Architecture major from Fargo, N.D.; and Dara Levy, nutrition management major from Carmel, Ind.), an American Sign Language consulting firm serving interpreting programs within universities and organizations that focus on providing ASL interpreting services.
The Next Big Idea competition is an annual event where teams of students combine skills related to their individual majors to create innovative products, technology or businesses. Teams work with mentors on their projects and compete before judges for cash prizes. This year marks the seventh anniversary of the competition.
“The Next Big Idea competition is the culmination of a tremendous amount of hard work, creativity and innovation on the part of these student inventors and entrepreneurs,” said Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “It’s evident that many of these projects contain the perfect blend of technology, art and design, while also providing a much-needed benefit to the community. I look forward to one day seeing some of these products move forward to production and sold in the marketplace.”
As part of Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival, researchers at NTID’s Center on Access Technology will demonstrate an accessible rower that enables deaf and hard-of-hearing rowers to follow verbal coxswain instructions during competitions. Festival visitors can sit in a canoe and test their reflex response times by using a game pad to reply to visual cues displayed on a smartphone.
The idea for the accessible rower came about in 2016, with the addition of a deaf rower to the RIT men’s rowing team roster, with the possibility of other deaf and hard-of-hearing athletes joining the squad. In rowing competitions, rowers are required to follow commands from the coxswain, who determines the speed of the boat.
According to Wendy Dannels, a research faculty member in NTID’s Center on Access Technology and one of the project coordinators, the solution provides a visual display showing transcription and/or illustration of the coxswain’s commands. The application was developed to help the athletes synchronize with the coxswain by using a custom Automatic Speech Recognition engine. The engine is offline so the deaf and hard-of-hearing athletes can utilize the technology without internet connection.
In addition to Dannels, project team members are Steven McClusky, a fourth-year software engineering student from Blue Springs, Mo.; Joseph Stanislow, instructional/support faculty member, NTID Information and Computing Studies; and Brian Trager, associate director of the NTID Center on Access Technology.
Performances continue April 27 and 28 for the Performing Arts Department at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf production of The Wonderful World of Oz. Encore performances will take place June 28–July 1 in celebration of NTID’s 50th anniversary alumni reunion. The production will be held in the Robert F. Panara Theatre, Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall, on the RIT/NTID campus.
Adapted and directed by RIT/NTID alumnus and former performing arts faculty member Jim Orr, the production provides a fully accessible American Sign Language/spoken English rendition of L. Frank Baum’s classic tale of adventure and discovery. Set design is by RIT/NTID alumnus Ethan Sinnott.
Several other NTID alumni are participating in the production and the incorporated video segments, and there will be several surprises for the audience.
The production is co-sponsored by MSM Productions Ltd. Special keepsake playbills will be distributed to attendees at both the April and June performances.
Matthew S. Moore, RIT/NTID alumnus and president of MSM Productions Ltd. and founder and chairperson of the NTID Performing Arts Advisory Committee, is providing sponsorship and in-kind support for the production.
“This is a major milestone for our theater program,” said Moore. “NTID has produced many exciting plays during its first 50 years. In the next 50 years, we will be doing more large-scale productions where students and community members will have an opportunity to participate.”
Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 27–28. Tickets are $12 for general audiences; $10 for alumni, faculty, staff and children age 12 and older; and $5 for students, seniors (60+) and children under age 12.
There will be four benefit performances, 2 p.m. June 28–July 1 and 7:30 p.m. June 29–30. Tickets for the benefit performances will be $35 each, with proceeds going toward renovation costs associated with the performing arts program.
Tickets may be purchased through the RIT box office online at https://rittickets.com or by phone at 585-475-4121. Tickets also will be available on performance days two hours prior to curtain.
For more information, contact Joseph Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A record 438 exhibits will be on display at this year’s Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival. The projects, displayed throughout the Rochester Institute of Technology campus, not only motivate students to produce an innovative and creative idea, in many cases, they yield something good for the community, humankind and the planet.
The festival takes place 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. on the RIT campus. The event is free and the public is invited.
For more information on exhibits visit www.rit.edu/imagine.
For eight weeks this summer, Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf will be home to the first all-deaf cohort of the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), bringing deaf and hard-of-hearing students from across the country together to do research.
The cohort of three RIT/NTID students, and one student each from the University of California, Berkeley; Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida; Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.; Ohlone College in Freemont, California; Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio and Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Oregon, includes six women and three men, all of whom are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
“Students were selected in a competitive process on the basis of who showed strong potential for research and fit in well with our current projects,” said Bonnie Jacob, assistant professor in the mathematical modeling program. “The projects are all from science and math, and include graph theory, astrophysics, biochemistry and analytical chemistry this year. There have been other REUs that invite one, two or a few deaf students each year, but we are the first REU to host a full cohort of students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.”
A Research Experience for Undergraduates program generally runs in the summer for eight to 10 weeks. Undergraduate students come from different universities, along with some from the home university, to be immersed in a research experience with guidance from a faculty mentor.
This particular REU is a three-year award from the NSF, and will run for three summers, with the grant totaling $303,000. Students are paid a stipend, receive housing and some meal support and travel. They also have an opportunity to present their research at a conference. In addition to the research experience, RIT/NTID is adding writing coaching, a research boot camp that involves mathematical and scientific training and professional development sessions tailored specifically to students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. They also will have presentations by invited guests.
“REUs are exciting programs because faculty mentors and students work side-by-side on original research,” Jacob said. “The opportunity to simultaneously make scientific discoveries while watching the students transform themselves into researchers is awesome. A full-time research experience over the summer often is a critical part of an undergraduate student’s preparation to go to graduate school or enter a career in a scientific or mathematical field. We are very excited about our group of students this year: they come from all over the country, have a diverse set of backgrounds, and also have a variety of career goals. They will come together this summer with the common thread of being undergraduate students who are deaf or hard of hearing and are eager to do science and math research. Several students have told me that they’re excited about the program. I know I am!”
For more on the project, visit the RIT/NTID REU website: https://people.rit.edu/bcjntm/REU.html.
Joan Bempong, a fifth-year BS/MS computer engineering student from Irving, Texas, believes that deaf women who use American Sign Language exhibit disparities in health literacy when compared to hearing women. She says limited health literacy may be caused by inaccessibility of mainstream information and healthcare services, as well as family communication difficulties. As a result, ineffective dissemination of health information also may have a significant impact upon deaf women’s mental and physical health. She hopes that her research will help develop a comprehensive framework for understanding how such health disparities occur and what steps can be taken to improve quality of life.
Abraham Glasser, a third-year computer science student from Rochester, N.Y., and Emily Lederman, a second-year computer science student from Morgantown, W.V., are using mathematical equations to determine worst-case scenarios for monitoring electric power networks. They hope one day their research will save power companies and consumers a lot of money.
On April 13, Bempong, Glasser and Lederman joined 61 other deaf and hard-of-hearing student researchers at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf’s Student Research Fair in Rosica Hall. The event gives undergraduate and graduate students, in partnership with faculty mentors, the opportunity to present posters or give demonstrations on topics related to health science, communication studies, access technology and environmental research, among others.
Todd Pagano, associate dean for teaching and scholarship excellence and founding director of NTID’s Laboratory Science Technology program, is among the coordinators of the research fair. Pagano said the research fair is unique because of the training that is offered to students ahead of time on writing and editing abstracts, designing research posters and presenting research to audiences.
“The projects we’re seeing are very sophisticated and diverse with a good mix of high-level science, math, healthcare and access technology research,” said Pagano. “We send many of our students to professional conferences to present their work, but the pinnacle of the experience for students often is having their research published. And a lot of what is seen here at the research fair has already been published.”
Musab Al-Smadi, a fourth-year software engineering student from Jordan, also presented his research. He is working on an inclusive mobile app using Near Field Communication that will enable deaf and hard-of-hearing museumgoers to fully explore their surroundings without facing barriers having to do with obtaining information about exhibits. For example, according to Al-Smadi, many museums offer visitors paper transcripts with exhibit descriptions. However, using transcripts can be inconvenient for patrons with varying levels of vision ability, or frustrating for those for whom English is a second language. The new app can be used on Android and iOS platforms and includes a keypad where users can type in the ID number of the exhibit to get the information or use their devices to hover over QR codes.
“Being able to work with faculty on relevant research has been a very positive experience,” said Al-Smadi. “We’re taking concepts that we’ve learned in the classroom and developing them even further for applications like this.”
Heather Smith, director of the NTID Motion Lab and senior lecturer in the 3D graphics technology program, creates and applies innovative projects using motion-capture technologies for product development, research and scholarship. She is working with a team of students to use motion capture to build an interactive, visual storytelling app with 360-degree views, animation, bilingual literacy and gaming. The app, Deaf Pioneer, teaches history dating back to the late 1800s and allows users to fully immerse themselves in the story.
“I am very fortunate to be a faculty member who works closely with deaf, hard of hearing and hearing students on their research projects,” said Smith. “I feel honored being part of their research journey as I share my wealth of knowledge and fuel them to fly higher and discover what is in store for them in the future. I try to become their mentor and their ally."
Bempong emphasized the quality of her research experience. “It has been a phenomenal experience. Given that I am a computer engineering student graduating with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, this research was fascinating in that it was completely different from my field of study. Because of the mentorship of Professor Deirdre Schlehofer, I was able to gain qualitative research skills, as well as more awareness about my own community and recognize the need to improve health literacy among us.”
The Student Research Fair is funded by the NTID Office of the President and jointly sponsored by the Associate Dean for Teaching and Scholarship Excellence and the Associate Dean of Research.
Rochester Institute of Technology honored researchers who served as principal investigators on active grant awards in fiscal year 2017 at an April 18 reception.
Among those honored were three RIT/NTID researchers:
- Matthew Dye, assistant professor and director of the Deaf x Lab, was recognized as a member of the new class of PI Millionaires, a designation given to RIT researchers who have achieved funding of $1 million or more since 2000. Focusing on how the deaf experience shapes cognition, including attention and the executive functions, Dye’s research is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
- Jessica Trussel, assistant professor, who participated in a National Institutes of Health advanced grant writing boot camp and was awarded $9,000 for a project entitled “Assessing DHH Students English Skills for Placement and Planning.” Trussell will analyze the results of NTID English Placement Tests to determine if those assessments can be used to identify underprepared deaf and hard-of-hearing learners who would benefit from intensive language instruction.
- Wendy Dannels, research associate professor in NTID's Center on Access Technology, who received a 2018 Seed Fund grant of $5,000 for her project “Accessible Dynamic Informal STEM Learning Using Mixed Reality for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing.” Dannels will collect baseline data that documents access issues for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals who visit the Rochester Museum and Science Center. Analysis of the data will yield comparison data for a follow-up project that uses mixed reality technology to improve access to the exhibits at RMSC.
Seed funding awards are $5,000 grants for proposals written over the fall semester and refined over the course of a two-day Grant Writers’ Boot Camp. Proposals are reviewed by teams of peers and revised to better position awardees for external funding.
In addition to the Grant Writers’ Boot Camp, RIT offered an advanced boot camp focused on the National Institutes of Health. Participants in the NIH Boot Camp submitted proposals for seed funding to help develop competitive proposals or revise proposals to specific NIH programs in the coming year.
RIT investigator efforts led to $60 million in research funding in the 2017 fiscal year.
The celebration event, in RIT’s Fireside Lounge, was hosted by Sponsored Research Services, which has recognized 127 PI Millionaire researchers since 2001.
For more information on research at RIT, go to https://www.rit.edu/research/.