RIT announces 2018-2019 theatrical season

NTID's stage production of

Four performances presenting an array of cultural, political and social issues are part of a new collaborative season by Rochester Institute of Technology's National Technical Institute for the Deaf Performing Arts program and RIT's College of Liberal Arts Theater Arts program. The productions will give students the opportunity to work in a deaf and hearing cast and crew that promotes diversity, inclusion and respect for different cultures and perspectives. All four productions are planned to be fully accessible for deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing audiences. More.

RIT recognized for diversity and inclusion efforts

Gold graduation cap with blue triangle. Text reads Insight into Diversity. Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award 2018.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s work to establish a diverse and inclusive environment earned two awards from national organizations this fall. For the second year in a row, RIT is being honored as an institution committed to diversity for 2018 by Minority Access, Inc. RIT also is receiving a Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from "INSIGHT into Diversity" magazine for the fifth consecutive year. More.

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.

Registration now open for Brick City Homecoming & Family Weekend, Oct. 19-21

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Brick City Homecoming & Family Weekend is RIT's annual tradition to celebrate alumni, students, parents and families, faculty, staff and friends of the University. RIT combines parents weekend and alumni reunions into one big event. The excitement will begin Friday, Oct. 19 and run through Sunday, Oct. 21. For a full list of activities and to register, visit https://www.rit.edu/gcr/brickcity/.

RIT’s newest students urged to dream and change the world

RIT faculty and staff cheer on and high-five new students to RIT during the annual Tiger Walk before convocation.

Get involved, know your fellow students and professors, and take advantage of as many opportunities as you can.

That was a main theme expressed during the Convocation for New Students at Rochester Institute of Technology today, as the university welcomed its most academically qualified first-year students, who had an average 1300 SAT score.

The new students also are expected to set a total RIT enrollment record at more than 19,000 for the first time. The new students come from 46 states and Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and 43 countries. Total international students come from 51 countries, with the most students coming from India, China, Saudi Arabia, Dominican Republic and Iran. More.

Rochester Fringe Festival to feature acts with RIT/NTID connections

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This year’s Key Bank Rochester Fringe Festival will feature a variety of performances and films with RIT/NTID connections. 

Since the festival’s debut in 2012, deaf and hard-of-hearing performers, as well as captioned performances have been highlighted. Many of those performers have been RIT/NTID students, alumni, faculty and staff.

The 2018 festival features the following:

  • A showing of the film “Baby Driver” featuring RIT/NTID alumnus CJ Jones
  • A one-person comedy show “Becoming Kat” from alumnus Keith Banks
  • Former and current RIT/NTID students in the performance group “Dangerous Signs” in a performance of their original production “Beyond Words”
  • Alumnus and current Performing Arts faculty Fred Michael Beam’s one-man show “Black Deaf Male: Who Am I?”
  • A documentary featuring Performing Arts faculty Thomas Warfield “On the Way to Oz”
  • Performances by RIT/NTID’s traveling troupe, Sunshine 2.0
  • Stand-up comedy by RIT/NTID alumnus Tom Willard

Numerous other festival productions are being ASL interpreted. For more information on interpreted performances, dates, times, locations and tickets, visit the Rochester Fringe Festival website.

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.

RIT/NTID alumni meet again, and love blossoms

Light skinned male and female hugging wearing winter coats on top of a snowy mountain.

RIT/NTID's Brianna Schlitt ’11, ’13 (psychology, professional studies) and Brynjar Leifsson ’11, ’13 (multidisciplinary studies, deaf education) thought it was love at first sight when they met on the RIT campus in 2009. But they later learned they had attended the same elementary school, shared some of the same teachers and even ate lunch together there.

“People don’t believe that we had met when we were little kids and then met again 15 years later,” said Schlitt. “It’s pretty surreal.”

Schlitt and Leifsson were married on July 13 on Long Island, N.Y.

Schlitt was in kindergarten when she went to a school in East Meadow, N.Y., and Leifsson was in second grade. The two were from different parts of Long Island but at that time, Schlitt said, some of the deaf and hard-of-hearing children attended one school.

They were only together for one year. After kindergarten, Schlitt transitioned to the public school in her district.

Fast forward to 2009 and Schlitt decided she wanted to transfer to RIT after attending James Madison University and Long Island University Post. Leifsson had been a student at RIT since 2005.

Schlitt was visiting RIT and attended a party with a friend. Leifsson was there.

“How do you like somebody after meeting them for an hour?” Schlitt said. But when she ran into Leifsson again two days later, she knew she was smitten. So was Leifsson.

“I first saw her and I thought she is the one,” he said. “But I didn’t think it was possible. I can’t get someone this beautiful.”

They exchanged numbers and kept in touch over the summer before they were both on campus.

A year later they attended a meeting about deaf and hard-of-hearing services on Long Island and they ran into an audiologist who knew them both.

“She was like, ‘How do you guys know each other. You were in the same school when you were little and I had both of you guys,’” Schlitt said. “She couldn’t believe how life brought us back together.”

The couple has been together ever since.

Leifsson works as an American Sign Language teacher on Long Island and Schlitt is a lawyer who will begin a job later this year as an attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Suffolk County.

Leifsson proposed on April 13, 2017, when they were visiting his native Iceland. He popped the question at the top of the Snaefellsjökull glacier overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

“I had to go over the top,” Leifsson said. “She had been waiting eight long years for me to propose. I had to make it amazing, and it’s my favorite place to be.”

“I was like, ‘Oh my God, is it really happening?’ Of course, I said, ‘Yes,’” Schlitt said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

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.”