Category Archives: Academics

RIT now among the top 100 universities in the nation

Photo of Infinity Quad on RIT campus

Rochester Institute of Technology is now among the top 100 universities in the nation, having jumped 10 places in the "National Universities" category, according to "U.S. News & World Report" rankings.

RIT, which just last year moved into the top “National Universities” category due to its rapid increase in research and Ph.D. graduates, this year ranked 97th out of 311 universities in this prestigious category, which includes some of the nation’s best known colleges and universities. These top universities “offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master’s and Ph.D. programs, and emphasize faculty research,” according to "U.S. News." More.

RIT/NTID receives Motorola Solutions Foundation grant

Male teacher wtih light hair and glasses works with student with dark hair and skin on mini drone and mobile phone.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf today announced it has received a grant for $30,000 from the Motorola Solutions Foundation, the charitable arm of Motorola Solutions, Inc. Through the grant, RIT/NTID will support a new initiative to encourage students to enroll in NTID’s new mobile application development program.

The Motorola Solutions Foundation awards grants each year to organizations, such as RIT/NTID, which support and advance public safety programs and technology and engineering education initiatives. This year, programs that served underrepresented populations, including females, people with disabilities and veterans were prioritized.

“The generous gift from Motorola will be used to build foundational math, English and basic coding skills to help us prepare students who are interested, but not yet academically qualified for our mobile application development program,” said David Lawrence, instructional/support faculty member in RIT/NTID’s Information and Computing Studies Department. “With the grant, students will participate in engaging individual and team projects and competitions that require the use of math, reading, writing and coding skills.”

This year, Motorola Solutions Foundation grants will support programs that help more than two million students, teachers, first responders and community members across the United States. Each participant will receive an average of 186 programming hours from its partner non-profit organizations and institutions. Programs will support special populations including: females, underrepresented minorities, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, people with disabilities and veterans.

“Motorola Solutions Foundation is proud to support the work of RIT/NTID. As a leading technology company that supports the safety of communities worldwide, we know how important it is to educate tomorrow’s technology professionals as well as enlighten civilians and first responders on today’s safety needs,” said Matt Blakely, executive director of the Motorola Solutions Foundation.

For additional information on the Motorola Solutions Foundation grants program, visit: motorolasolutions.com/foundation, and for more information on RIT/NTID visit the website.

About RIT/NTID

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 master’s degree programs in health care interpretation and 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.

About Motorola Solutions Foundation

The Motorola Solutions Foundation is the charitable and philanthropic arm of Motorola Solutions. With employees located around the globe, Motorola Solutions seeks to benefit the communities where it operates. The foundation achieves this by making strategic grants, forging strong community partnerships and fostering innovation. The Motorola Solutions Foundation focuses its funding on public safety, disaster relief, employee programs and education, especially in science, technology, engineering and math. For more information on Motorola Solutions Corporate and Foundation giving, visit our website: www.motorolasolutions.com/foundation.

RIT/NTID awarded $2.6 million for first large-scale study of language outcomes in young deaf adults

Matthew Dye, in blue suit and pink tie wearing glasses w/male in blue shirt and dark tie w/electrode cap and female student.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf (RIT/NTID) in Rochester, New York, has received a $2.6 million, five-year award from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) to study the neurological, linguistic and behavioral outcomes for deaf individuals after childhood. It is the first study of its kind with college-age adults.

According to the latest data from the NIDCD, two to three out of every 1,000 children born in the United States are deaf or hard of hearing. For some of these children, being deaf can preclude typical acquisition of spoken language.

Some children use hearing aids, some learn sign language only, spoken language only, or a combination of sign and spoken language, with or without hearing aids. Still others use a cochlear implant (CI), an electronic medical device that replaces the function of the inner ear and can provide sound signals to the brain. Children with a CI may use sign language, spoken language or both. As of 2012, around 38,000 children in the United States had received a CI.

“For many of these children, a cochlear implant has permitted access to spoken language,” said Matthew Dye, an RIT/NTID researcher who is leading the grant. “However, what is perhaps most striking about spoken language outcomes following cochlear implantation is the variability.”

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, there is wide variation in individual outcomes following cochlear implantation, and some CI recipients never develop useable speech and oral language skills. The causes of this variation in outcomes are only partly understood at the present time. 

“Understanding this variability is the first step in developing effective interventions to move a greater number of children towards better communication outcomes,” Dye said.

The research will be one of the first large-scale studies to examine spoken language outcomes in young deaf adults who received their implants in childhood and now are enrolled at RIT/NTID. The majority of these students will vary in terms of whether or not they use their CI, the age at which they received their CI and their primary mode of communication (spoken English, sign language, or other). The unique sample of young adults at RIT/NTID, many of whom learned sign language in infancy and use a cochlear implant, affords the possibility of examining how early exposure to American Sign Language (ASL) influences spoken language outcomes.

Dye will collaborate with researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder to establish norms for hearing college students.

“The overall aim of this project is to examine the effects of auditory development, cognitive function and multimodal language outcomes in a large group of young deaf adults,” Dye said. “The results of this study will provide much-needed and timely answers regarding the possible benefits of early cochlear implantation and early intervention with sign language that parents and policy makers seek as they determine how best to intervene with the next generation of deaf infants who are cochlear implant recipients or candidates.”

NIH grants $1 million to RIT/NTID scientists-in-training program for deaf and hard-of-hearing undergraduates

Young man with red hair and beard wearing safety glasses and white lab coat works with lab instruments.

The National Institutes of Health's National Institute of General Medical Sciences has awarded a grant to Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf to provide $1.025 million in funding over five years to develop a scientists-in-training program for deaf and hard-of-hearing undergraduates. 

Funded through the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) program, the grant is designed to increase the number of underrepresented students who enter Ph.D. programs in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. The RIT-RISE program is the first RISE program to specifically serve deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

The program will offer a suite of scientific enrichment workshops, presentations, and activities that are tailored to the needs of deaf-and-hard of hearing scientists and open to the entire university. These events are expected to attract students who wish to enrich their research skills, stay abreast of hot topics in biomedical and behavioral fields, sharpen their presentation skills, or get help applying to graduate schools. RIT-RISE also will provide faculty workshops to share best practices for promoting effective communication between hearing and deaf researchers in lab settings.   

Selected RISE scholars will receive intensive training and wage support for working in research laboratories with RIT researchers and, eventually, in the laboratory of a mentor from another institution.  The RIT-RISE leadership team will help match supported scholars with participating research mentors in their fields of interest. Scholars also will attend local and national conferences, present papers and posters and publish or co-publish their work. 

Scott R. Smith, a medical doctor, health scientist and research faculty member at RIT/NTID, who is deaf, will lead this program assisted by Paul Craig, a chemistry professor and the head of RIT’s School of Chemistry and Material Science, and Vincent Samar, an RIT/NTID cognitive science professor with many years of experience working with deaf and hard-of-hearing students. In addition, more than 40 deaf and hearing members of the RIT faculty have volunteered to serve as science mentors, and 15 deaf and hearing external mentors have already been identified for the summer research experiences that will take place after scholars complete their junior year.

RISE scholars will be selected from deaf and hard-of-hearing students in RIT baccalaureate programs that include biochemistry, bioinformatics, biology, biomedical engineering, biomedical sciences, biotechnology & molecular bioscience, chemistry, computing and information technologies, computer science, computing security, game design & development, human-centered computing, new media interactive development, psychology, and web and mobile computing.

RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf is leading the RIT-RISE cross-college partnership that includes RIT’s College of Science, College of Health Science and Technology, College of Liberal Arts, Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, and the Kate Gleason College of Engineering. 

Smith cited the partnership among RIT colleges as one of the keys to receiving NIH support. 

“The strength of the mentor pool helped to distinguish the RIT application, and we are very grateful for faculty enthusiasm for this program,” he said. “We expect the RIT-RISE program to provide even greater opportunities so that deaf and hard-of-hearing students can engage in robust undergraduate research experiences that will enable them to become successful scientists.”  

Gerard Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean, praised RIT’s commitment to the program. 

“This is a historic development for deaf and hard-of-hearing scholars and for RIT,” said Buckley. “RIT is becoming known as the destination school for deaf and hard-of-hearing scholars who want to prepare for careers in biomedical and behavioral research.”    

The RIT-RISE program expands the Rochester training pipeline for deaf and hard-of-hearing scientists by connecting undergraduate research training with preexisting NTID-supported ‘Explore Your Future’ and ‘Health Care Career Exploration’ camps for high school students, the Rochester Bridges to the Doctorate Program for graduate students, and the Rochester Postdoctoral Partnership Program for postdoctoral fellows.