Category Archives: Academics

RIT again named among the nation’s leading ‘green colleges’ in Princeton Review

Woman with long dark hair wearing black short-sleeved top and silver earring.

Rochester Institute of Technology is one of the most environmentally responsible colleges, according to The Princeton ReviewThe education services company, known for its test prep and tutoring services, books and college rankings, features RIT in the 2016 edition of its free downloadable book, The Princeton Review Guide to 361 Green Colleges.

The Princeton Review chose schools for this seventh-annual edition of its “green guide” based on data from the company’s 2015-2016 survey of hundreds of four-year colleges concerning the schools’ commitments to the environment and sustainability.

“I am pleased that RIT has once again been recognized by The Princeton Review for our commitment to sustainability,” said Enid Cardinal, senior sustainability adviser to the president. “We lead through example as shown by sustainability through our research, academics and operations here at RIT.”

“We strongly recommend Rochester Institute of Technology and the other fine colleges in this guide to the many environmentally minded students who seeks to study and live at green colleges,” said Robert Franek, senior VP and publisher, The Princeton Review.

Franek noted the growing interest the company has seen among college-bound students in green colleges. “Among more than 10,000 teens and parents who participated in our 2016 College Hopes & Worries Survey, 61 percent told us that having information about a school’s commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to attend the college.”

The profiles in The Princeton Review’s Guide to 361 Green Colleges provide information about each school’s admission requirements, cost and financial aid, and student body stats. They also include “Green Facts” about the schools with details on the availability of transportation alternatives and the percentage of the school food budgets spent on local/organic food.

RIT was recognized for the university’s availability of transportation alternatives, including bike storage, shower facilities and lockers for bicycle commuters as well as a telecommuting program for employees and a carpool/vanpool matching program. RIT also received high marks for programs encouraging employees to live close to campus.

The Princeton Review first published the guide in 2010. It chose schools based on “Green Rating” scores (from 60 to 99) that the company tallied this summer for 640 colleges using data from its 2015-16 survey of school administrators. The survey asked them to report on their school’s sustainability-related policies, practices and programs. More than 25 data points were weighted in the assessment. Schools with Green Ratings scores of 80 or higher made it into the guide. Most of the schools (350) are in the United States, while 10 are in Canada and one in Egypt.

The guide can be downloaded at

Enjoying a Challenge

A student in a white shirt with beard and glasses sits by a computer with the screen off and other equipment.

Benjamin Polstra from Noblesville, Indiana, completed a summer co-op at GEICO in Chevy Chase, Maryland, that turned into a fulltime job. Polstra, who will graduate in sping 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in information technology, worked as a GEICO summer intern.

Polstra was responsible for a significant information technology (IT) business project—bigger than any project he had ever worked on before, and to complete it, he had to learn different tools and concepts along the way. He used his information technology skills on individual assignments and team projects, attended meetings and gave presentations. He was able to reach out to and receive mentoring from  team members and members of the IT management team. By the end of the summer, Polstra felt he had become a better developer with the increased confidence that came from handling a project of that size. He also learned how an insurance company runs and how they practice customer service.

He says that taking courses that taught the fundamental and advanced level of object-oriented programming, such as Java or C#, was valuable. The courses he took that teach client and server programming were necessary as well. The software design, principles and patterns, organizational behavior and apps development practices courses all were greatly helpful in his summer responsibilities, and taking on a leadership role gave him valuable experience in how to work with a team. He also learned that no matter where you work, asking a lot of questions is a must-have skill.

Polstra believes his degree will open doors to many opportunities. The coursework associated with it has prepared the fundamental bedrock, which he can use to demonstrate his knowledge of the IT field, and to work confidently with new concepts and ideas. He says that GEICO is the manifestation of how he’s been preparing himself; it has been changing, abandoning old traditions and embracing new ideas. The company has expanded its IT department rapidly to enable their growth spurt. That’s how he sees himself—growing rapidly to become not only a better IT person, but a more accomplished software developer.

Polstra offers the following advice for other students. “Don’t just work hard; play with what you like to do. If you are majoring in photography, play around with a camera.If computer science is your major, play around with a computer. Share with your friends and find mentors who can help you grow. You shouldn’t be discouraged by a challenge. Just try hard, and when you are successful, you will end up enjoying your success a lot more. Don’t think about grades so much because you will already excel at what you do, if you enjoy whatever you are doing.”

RIT ranked among top national universities by ‘U.S. News & World Report’

Male in white labcoat stands and holds a cable, 2nd male in red tshirt and shorts wears headphones and virtual reality eyemask.

Rochester Institute of Technology is being recognized as a top tier national university for the first time in the 34-year history of “U.S. News & World Report” rankings. The change is a result of the university’s reclassification in becoming a “doctoral university” this year due to its rapid increase in research and Ph.D. graduates.

The 2017 edition ofU.S. News & World Report Best Colleges” ranked RIT 107th in the “National Universities” category. These top universities—a grouping of 310 schools— “offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master’s and Ph.D. programs, and emphasize faculty research,” according to “U.S. News.” RIT had previously been listed among “Regional Universities.” Overall, “U.S. News” cites 1,374 four-year colleges and universities in various categories.

“The movement of RIT into the ranks of the nation’s finest colleges and universities is a remarkable story,” said RIT President Bill Destler. “We are not trying to emulate some of the nation’s great universities. We will do what RIT does so well, and that is by being different and capitalizing on that difference to make a truly unique experience for our students and for our communities. We have nearly a dozen programs that are ranked in the top 10 nationally,beyond U.S News. And these programs are in non-traditional academic areas such as interactive games and media, industrial design, imaging science, sustainable manufacturing and packaging science.”

RIT also ranked 33rd among best value schools—“Great Schools, Great Prices.” The calculation compares a school’s academic quality to the net cost of attendance for a student who receives the average level of financial aid. “The higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal,” according to “U.S. News.” In other rankings, RIT also was recognized for excellence in its business and engineering colleges, its cooperative education program, and its benefits for military veterans.

The move to the top tier national category was triggered earlier this year when RIT was listed as a “doctoral university” by the leading classification of U.S. colleges and universities. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education changed RIT from “Masters – Comprehensive” to “Doctoral University” This change occurs when a university graduates more than 20 Ph.D. degrees per year, a figure that RIT has exceeded in recent years. In May, RIT awarded 35 doctoral degrees in seven Ph.D. programs, the most in its history.

RIT has seven doctoral programs: astrophysics, color science, computing and information sciences, engineering, microsystems engineering, imaging science and sustainability. A Ph.D. in mathematical modeling begins in fall 2017.

“In previous ‘U.S. News’ rankings, RIT historically received high marks in peer review with other universities,” Destler noted. “We are extremely pleased to see our peer assessment scores did well with other presidents, provosts, deans of admissions and high school counselors in the top tier research grouping.” Here, RIT rated 66th among its peer universities and 49th with the counselors.

In further rankings:

  • RIT was among 22 universities recognized for excellent cooperative learning and internship programs.
  • RIT ranked 69th among “Best Colleges for Veterans.” “U.S. News” aims to provide military veterans and active duty service members with data on which top-ranked schools offer benefits that can help make a college education affordable.
  • RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering ranked No. 65 nationally for undergraduate engineering programs among universities where the highest degree is a doctorate.
  • RIT’s Saunders College of Business was ranked No. 77 nationally among best programs for undergraduate business education.

Go to for a list of frequently asked questions about the rankings and RIT’s reclassification.

RIT to become first university to publish video game on Xbox One platform

Rochester Institute of Technology will become the first university to publish a video game on the Xbox One gaming platform when Hack, Slash & Backstab is officially launched on Wednesday, Aug. 31. The game, which will be available for purchase, will also debut simultaneously on the Steam platform and be available for sale through the digital storefront Humble.

Hack, Slash & Backstab was produced in residence at RIT in a studio course offered through RIT’s internationally ranked School of Interactive Games and Media, and the RIT Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction and Creativity (MAGIC).

The game won third place in the Best Visual Quality category of the 2016 Intel University Games Showcase in March as part of the 2016 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

RIT’s game design and development program was recently ranked third at the undergraduate level and seventh at the graduate level according to the new 2016 international rankings from “The Princeton Review.” More.

RIT/NTID team wins National Association of the Deaf College Bowl for the sixth time

Gerry Buckley in orange RIT golf shirt cheering w/four team members and two coaches in black RIT shirts holding trophy.

A student team from Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf has won the National Association of the Deaf College Bowl academic competition for the third consecutive year, and earned its sixth victory overall.

Held at the biennial NAD conference since 1988, the College Bowl is a four-day question-and-answer academic competition with topics as varied as literature, science, mathematics, history and current events. The event, which brings together deaf contestants from top colleges and universities serving deaf and hard-of-hearing students, regularly draws more than 1,000 audience members to the finals.

Teams of four students from each school vie for the trophy and scholarships for their respective colleges. In addition to RIT/NTID, teams at this year’s competition held in Phoenix were from California State University-Northridge, Gallaudet University and the University of Minnesota.

The winning RIT/NTID team members are Lauren Berger, a psychology major from Rochester, N.Y.; Eric Epstein, a software engineering major from Tucson, Ariz.; Asher Kirschbaum, a mechanical engineering major from Washington Grove, Md.; and Emmanuel Perrodin-Njoku, a biomedical sciences major from Washington, D.C.

“The weekly practice throughout the year paid off big time,” said Epstein. “I am so proud of my teammates for their yearlong efforts in studying. I look forward to the next generation of Tigers who will undoubtedly defend the bowl.”

The team worked with co-coaches and RIT/NTID faculty members Christopher Kurz and Gary Behm to prepare for the competition.

“The entire RIT/NTID community is so proud of our College Bowl team for bringing the trophy back to campus for another two years,” said Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “Lauren, Eric, Asher and Emmanuel did an extraordinary job against fierce competition. They are carrying on a great tradition, and it was wonderful to have so many of our students, faculty, staff and alumni in the audience cheering on our students.”

Cool Co-op: Benjamin Polstra

BenPolstra with glasses and a white shirt and striped tie standly proudly, just got a job offer for after graduation with GEICO

Benjamin Polstra, an information technology major from Noblesville, Indiana, spent the summer on co-op at GEICO in Chevy Chase, Maryland. He used his information technology skills to work on business projects and other assignments, both individually and as a part of a team, and was pleased to discover that he and GEICO have something in common—both are interested in casting aside old traditions and embracing new ideas. He was offered and has accepted a full-time job at GEICO and will be starting work there as part of their Technology Development Program.

RIT/NTID, Xamarin Inc. collaboration to provide opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing students in mobile app development

Brian Trager in blue button down shirt gesturing in front of white board with writing on the board and overhead image display.

When faculty members at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf were creating a new degree program in mobile application development, they looked to cross-platform developer Xamarin Inc. for guidance and expertise. The result of this collaboration is the fall launch of a new academic program, which recently received approval by the New York State Education Department and earned a grant from the National Science Foundation of more than $820,000.

Funding from the three-year NSF grant, “RoadMaPPs to Careers: A New Approach to Mobile Apps Education featuring a Mapp for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students,” will train and equip students in RIT/NTID’s Information and Computing Studies Department where the new program will be housed, and is based on the Xamarin cross-platform approach to mobile application development.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Xamarin assisted in the development of the new associate degree program, and company representatives serve on the advisory board for curriculum review. The company recently was acquired by Microsoft.

“Xamarin has given us access to their ‘Xamarin University’ curriculum materials, provided data we needed for our program and grant proposals, came to campus to carefully review our plans and gave us invaluable guidance,” said Elissa Olsen, chairperson of RIT/NTID’s Information and Computing Studies Department. “We are so pleased that they have agreed to serve on our program advisory board and continue to guide the program in the future based on industry trends.”

The company also will support student-learning activities such as career awareness events and will hire students for co-op and full-time employment.

“We are proud that Xamarin will play a major role in the overall success of the mobile app development program, not only because the curriculum uses the Xamarin platform, but also because our experts will advise and assist the team on all aspects of the program,” said Bryan Costanich, vice president of education services at Xamarin Inc. “This is a unique opportunity to work with the deaf community to provide training and employment in one of the fastest growing industry segments.”

Cool Co-op: La Shea Murray

Female student sitting and working at computer desk.

La Shea Murray from Feasterville, Pennsylvania is a design and imaging technology major working her co-op at RMS Graphics in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania. In her position as a graphic design technician intern, she works with the art director to make, modify and produce designs for various commercial printed materials using Adobe software, and assists with putting together custom fulfillment kits.