Category Archives: Academics

RIT/NTID Student Entrepreneurs, Hz Innovations, Are Part of RIT’s Saunders Summer Startup Program

Photo by: Keith Delk

Imagine secure software for cybercrime prevention, equipment with real-time feedback for weightlifters, a sound-recognition device for homeowners with hearing loss, or portable technology that brews Brazilian coffee and hot beverages on the go.

These are some of the jumpstart ventures at Saunders Summer Startup, a small-business launchpad at Rochester Institute of Technology where young innovators with bright ideas form interdisciplinary teams to start real companies. The 10-week crash course is sponsored by Saunders College of Business and the Albert J. Simone Center for Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

During the summer program, each of the eight startups below is offered a stipend, working space at the Simone Center, and receives support from RIT faculty, assigned mentors and community business leaders.

  • CASCADES: Acronym for Cyber Attack Scenario and Network Defense Simulator that streamlines the process of preventing cybercrime
  • Happy2c: A program to help people learn a new language from teachers and native speakers at a lower cost and at their own pace using a smartphone, tablet or computer
  • Hz Innovations: A sound recognition system to aid those with hearing loss that notifies the owner of a sound (doorbell, a child’s cry, alarm) through their software application on their smartphone, wearable device or laptop
  • LiftForce: Smart fitness sensor technology for gyms to provide weightlifters with real-time feedback that they can track, store and communicate to other lifters
  • A simplified tool for businesses to create and manage their social media content across multiple social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • SpynAlign: A postural control device for stroke patient rehabilitation that works by placing a smartphone on a specially designed vest worn by the patient that signals and alerts them when they need to align and correct their posture
  • UNA: A sustainable, smart and portable coffee maker that will allow users to brew their own coffee or tea on-the-go without any external power supply—complete with a coffee pod that delivers high quality Brazilian coffee beans
  • Wyvrn: The next generation of PawPrints, RIT’s website platform for students to create petitions for change; the education technology company is expanding their services to campuses across the U.S. to revolutionize the way student governments are run.

“Summer Startup is the most intensive entrepreneurial experience that we offer at RIT,” said Richard DeMartino, endowed chair and director of the Simone Center. “It’s both educational and developmental, and some of these businesses will actually become high growth businesses. In the past, we’ve had a couple that have raised a half million and a million dollars, and more.”

RIT/NTID Receives $4 Million Boost for Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing Education

The National Science Foundation has renewed its pledge to funding resources for deaf and hard-of-hearing education by awarding an additional $4 million to Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf to continue DeafTEC: Technological Education Center for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students, an Advanced Technological Education National Center of Excellence. The gift is the second largest NSF award in RIT history. The largest NSF grant awarded to RIT was given four years ago when the foundation pledged $4.45 million over four years to initially fund the center.

“DeafTEC’s goal has always been to successfully integrate more deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals into the workplace in highly-skilled technician jobs in which these individuals are currently underrepresented and underutilized,” said Donna Lange, NTID’s principal investigator on the project. “Although some progress has been made, people with disabilities, particularly Americans who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, continue to be employed at rates much lower than the rest of the population. This renewed funding will help DeafTEC to continue to reduce this inequity by increasing the access that deaf and hard-of-hearing students have to career information, to a technical education, and to unrestricted employment.”

DeafTEC is developing a model within targeted regions of the country, including California, Texas, Florida and multiple locations in the Midwest, through partnerships with high schools, community colleges and industry with the goal of building a professional community that will improve access to technological education and employment for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Partnership activities include professional development for educators, specifically related to best teaching practices and providing instructional materials and strategies for helping deaf and hard-of-hearing students develop skills in math and writing, and for employers on how to successfully integrate deaf and hard-of-hearing employees into the workplace. The program also works with community colleges to develop strategies for recruiting and retaining students in STEM programs, and introduces deaf and hard-of-hearing middle- and high-school students to STEM programs and careers via job shadowing, field trips and internships.

“This new NSF funding will help us to provide valuable online resources and curricular materials for students to develop job readiness skills and for secondary teachers to learn to address the needs of their deaf and hard-of hearing students, with all of it available online nationally,” added Lange. “We are also proud to work with our returning military veterans, many of whom have hearing impairments as a result of their active service. We are developing resources for community college instructors to address the academic challenges that student veterans with hearing loss face in STEM programs.”

According to Lange, through another DeafTEC program, RIT/NTID STEM courses are currently offered for credit to deaf and hard-of-hearing high school students across the country, and articulation agreements are being developed to help transition deaf and hard-of-hearing students form high school to college.

“We are pleased that the National Science Foundation has renewed its commitment to and funding for NTID’s innovative DeafTEC program,” said NTID President Gerry Buckley. “DeafTEC will broaden the participation in technical careers among deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals by providing them, as well as their teachers, counselors, employers and co-workers, with the resources that will help them succeed both in the classroom and on the job. The center’s emphasis on universal design and math and English resources can benefit students with language difficulties as well as students who are deaf and hard of hearing. The regional partnerships established in three different states can serve as a model that can be replicated in other regions as well as with other groups of underserved students.”

DeafTEC is housed at NTID, one of RIT’s nine colleges. NTID was established in 1965 to reverse the long history of under-employment and unemployment among our nation’s deaf and hard-of-hearing citizens. More than 1,300 deaf and hard-of-hearing students are fully mainstreamed on RIT’s campus with 17,000 hearing students.

RIT Part of Consortium that Wins Bid for Multi-Million Dollar Photonics Center

A New York-based consortium, led by SUNY Polytechnic, Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester, has been awarded a multimillion-dollar federal investment to create a national photonics center. The new institute will be called AIM, short for American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics.

Photonics is the use of light, more specifically photons, to do many of the things that now use electrical circuits. It’s a field closely related to optics which involves the generation, detection and modulation of light.

Ryne Raffaelle, RIT vice president for research and associate provost, said advanced developments in integrated photonics are essential to the nation’s manufacturing capabilities in such areas as high-speed data and telecommunications. He said technologies developed at this national center would allow for more information to be transmitted far more efficiently.

Raffaelle said RIT is expected to support the institute’s work through workforce development, including short continuing education courses that use the university’s laboratories as well as its undergraduate and graduate programs, including a bachelor’s and master’s programs in microelectronic engineering, master’s programs in manufacturing and mechanical systems integration, telecommunications engineering technology, electrical engineering, computer engineering and imaging sciences, as well as its Ph.D. in microsystems engineering. More

RIT Announces Investments in Magic Spell Studios

Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to RIT to announce that the state will contribute $12 million toward construction of MAGIC Spell Studios, adding to $3 million from Dell and $12.4 million from Cisco Systems for the project.

Rochester Institute of Technology is at the epicenter of a public-private partnership that could catapult the region as a leader in the rapidly growing digital media industry. The college announced $12 million in funding from New York state, $3 million from Dell and $12.4 million from Cisco Systems Inc. that will be used to grow MAGIC Spell Studios, a university program that will link RIT’s internationally ranked academic programs with high-tech facilities needed to commercialize computer gaming, film and animation, graphic design and imaging sciences projects. That money will be added to the $1.5 million RIT has already received through the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, which named MAGIC Spell Studios as a priority project. More.

RIT included in ‘Fiske Guide to Colleges 2016’

Once again Rochester Institute of Technology has been selected in the newest Fiske Guide to Colleges due, in part, to RIT’s successful co-op program and diverse campus.

The guide, compiled by former New York Times education editor Edward B. Fiske, is a selective, subjective and systematic look at more than 300 colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain. There are more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States. Those selected for the guide include the “best and most interesting” colleges and universities.

The 2016 edition of the guide says RIT students who are ready to find a career “will be happy to know that the school places more than 3,000 juniors and seniors in full-time paid positions through its co-op program.”

The guide credits RIT “in carving out niches for itself with unusual programs, and majors are offered in more than 200 fields, from basic electrical and mechanical engineering to packing science and bioinformatics.” More.

NTID’s Rosica Hall Wins 2015 Design Excellence Award

Photo by: Mark Benjamin

Sebastian and Lenore Rosica Hall at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf and HBT Architects—the firm responsible for the building’s design—were recognized by the American Institute of Architects’ Rochester chapter as a 2015 design award recipient. The AIA Design Excellence Awards—held June 12 at Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery—encourage excellence in architectural design, increase public awareness of the human-made environment and honor the architects, owners and builders of significant projects.

Rosica Hall, an $8 million, two-story, 23,000-square-foot building, officially opened in October 2013 and is devoted to innovation and research for students, faculty and staff of NTID and RIT. It was designed to be deaf-friendly, incorporating a maximum use of
 natural light, open line-of-sight paths, safety features such as strobe lights, and minimalizing vibrations from the building’s air conditioning and heating units.

At the building dedication in 2013, Mark Rosica, chair of NTID’s Counseling and Academic Advising Services and a son of Sebastian and Lenore Rosica, said, “The building was specially designed to enhance the learning and discovery of our deaf and hard-of-hearing students and is an outstanding facility that will help to level the playing field by providing a variety of research opportunities for our students.”

Added James DeCaro, NTID professor and dean emeritus: “Rosica Hall is aesthetically pleasing, with high functionality, and designed to meet the unique needs of learners who are deaf. HBT Architects have presented us an exquisite ‘research home’ at the pinnacle of understated elegance.”

Research centers and labs are active in the building, and the second floor of the building houses the Imaginarium, where faculty and students gather to develop creative and innovative ideas. A meditation garden is on the first floor, with native plants that provides a common area where people can sit and think.

The William G. McGowan Charitable Fund gave a $1.75 million grant, which included a $250,000 matching challenge, for the construction of the building.

To learn more about Rosica Hall, go to

RIT/NTID inducts students into new Epsilon Pi Tau national honor society

Nineteen students and eight faculty members from Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf were recently inducted into the college’s first national honor society, Epsilon Pi Tau.

Nineteen students and eight faculty members from Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf were recently inducted into the college’s first national honor society, Epsilon Pi Tau. This is the first EPT chapter in the nation dedicated to deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Newly inducted students, listed by major, are:

  • Computer integrated machining technology— Mohamed Ali (Lackawanna, N.Y.); Jonathan Cabrera (Lynn, Mass.); Keith Cahalane (Lindenhurst, N.Y.); Zachary Gery (North Wales, Pa.); Ivan Gonzalez (Louisville, Ky.); Johnny Rodriguez (Brooklyn, N.Y.); Rachel Viacava (Cincinnati, Ohio)
  • Art and imaging studies— Ashley Barone (Slatington, Pa.); Brittney Caldwell (Honolulu, Hawaii)
  • Business—Emily Berlin (Greenburg, Pa.); Mason Chronister (Red Lion, Pa.); Timothy Fitzgerald (Washington Crossing, Pa.); John Huang (Brooklyn, N.Y.); LaShonda Williams (Greenville, N.C.)
  • Applied computer technology— Timothy Bernardo (Norfolk, Va.); Mathew Mills (Gaithersburg, Md.)
  • Laboratory science technology—Elder Berroa (Hazleton, Pa.); Christine Kim (Centreville, Va.); Macie King (Columbia, Miss.)

Faculty inductees are: Gary Behm (engineering studies); Karen Beiter (information and computing studies); Bonnie Jacob (science and mathematics); Donna Lange (information and computing studies); Dino Laury (engineering studies); Elissa Olsen (information and computing studies); Mellissa Youngman (business studies); and Andrea Zuchegno (visual communication studies).

Stephen Aldersley, NTID’s associate vice president for academic affairs noted that, “Epsilon Pi Tau’s goals of promoting academic excellence and professional contributions to the advance of technology are a perfect fit for NTID. At RIT’s recent graduation ceremony, several of the inductees proudly sported the society’s blue, white and gold ribbon as they received their degrees. Membership in the society will be a significant addition to their résumés and I am confident that future students, aspiring also to become members, will strive to achieve commensurate academic success.”

Epsilon Pi Tau, the international honor society for professions in technology, was founded in 1928 as a Greek letter fraternity to recognize leaders and potential leaders in industrial arts and industrial vocational education. Today, Epsilon Pi Tau recognizes 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 and advancement activities to outstanding practitioners in the technology professions, scholars with exemplary research interests in technology in society and/or persons who have significantly supported or advanced technology professions.