Category Archives: Employment

Deaf entrepreneurs on the rise

Deaf entrepreneur Alec Satterly wearing a green shirt seated at a desk, working on a computer.

This article about the growth of Deaf entrepreneurship by W. Scott Atkins, a business studies professor at RIT/NTID and nationally recognized deaf entrepreneurship expert, originally appeared in the Rochester “Democrat & Chronicle” and is reprinted with permission. (Photo credit:  A. Sue Weisler, RIT)

Deaf entrepreneurs on the rise, locally, nationally 

There is a revolution happening in Rochester and all across the United States. The number of deaf people running their own businesses has grown by leaps and bounds. Technological advances have made it possible for these individuals to access networks, customers and suppliers. There are now growing networks of deaf entrepreneurs.

Last weekend, I attended an event for local deaf entrepreneurs sponsored by Convo, a deaf-owned video relay service (VRS), and run by CEO Jarrod Musano, a deaf graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. There were 30-35 deaf business owners at the event, and they were grateful for the opportunity to network. I overheard a deaf realtor say to a deaf business owner who owns several rental properties, “Contact me and let’s see if we can do business together.” Convo has coordinated these types of events in other cities and has invested in a “Deaf Business Ecosystem,” which includes the creation of an online directory that now contains information on more than 250 deaf-owned businesses from all over the country.

Last semester at RIT/NTID, I was involved with a student business competition called the Next Big Idea, sponsored by VRS provider ZVRS, which provided opportunities for students to work on cross-disciplinary teams to innovate new products and services. This year, 15 teams competed for the opportunity to win cash prizes. It is my hope that many of these concepts will develop into full-fledged businesses.

In a class that I teach at RIT/NTID, called Introduction to Entrepreneurship, deaf and hard-of-hearing students create their own business with less than $20 of their own money. One student, Alec Satterly, established a bike repair business and was able to earn $650 during his winter break. Over the next few years, Alec participated in several entrepreneurship efforts on the RIT/NTID campus and has been very successful.

In 2014, his team, Cenify, won the ZVRS Next Big Idea grand prize of $5,000, and that summer, he and his team gained entry into the Saunders Summer Start-up Program, an incubator program at RIT. Cenify has since moved into RIT’s Venture Creations business incubator, which helps companies move to the next phase of their businesses. This is just one illustration of how RIT/NTID fosters entrepreneurship on campus. In addition, RIT/NTID brings alumni who are business owners to campus to speak with students. Alumnus and RIT Trustee Rob Rice, owner and founder of the Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm BayFirst Solutions, presented last year. RIT/NTID also works closely with RIT’s Simone Center for Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship in an effort to boost the number of deaf entrepreneurs on campus. Currently, we have two all-deaf teams who are part of the Saunders Summer Start-up Program.

This is only the beginning. There are many deaf and hard-of-hearing people who want to create their own businesses, but they are not sure where to start. It is important that we invest in new infrastructures to make this happen. This requires a collaborative effort by universities, agencies, corporations and other entrepreneurs. With their support, I am optimistic that we will continue to see the growth of a new generation of deaf entrepreneurs, especially here in Rochester.

 

From co-op to career

Christopher Robinson wearing glasses, bright green golf shirt holding safety glasses standing with CNC machinery

Name:  Christopher Brown

Hometown

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Degree programs

A.O.S., Computer Integrated Machining Technology, 2016

Year of graduation

2016

Place of employment

Place of employment Cyromech, Syracuse, New York

Job Title

Computer numeric control (CNC) operator

Work Responsibilities

Some of my responsibilities were to use blueprints to create precision products on the CNC machine. I set controls; inspected machines; and scheduled maintenance and repair to ensure operation, quality standards and correct specifications.

How my career relates to my degree from RIT/NTID

I learned much about blueprints, following directions, working on several products at once and how to use a variety of other machines: HASS lathe, manual lathe and mill and turning machines. My co-op gave me relevant work experience and helped me develop my knowledge and skills. At RIT/NTID, I learned time management, assertiveness, persistence and to work with deadlines. These skills helped me to succeed on co-op and will help me succeed in life as well. I appreciate the experience I got on the CNC mill machine because that was really valuable on my co-op. And, I have accepted a full-time job with Cryomech for after graduation.

Advice

Be responsible, be prepared, be assertive, be persistent and don’t give up. Fight for what you believe in and don’t let anything or anyone get you down. Maintain a positive attitude and stay motivated. Stay safe and avoid risky behavior. Most of all, grab your opportunity.

Winners of the Next Big Idea 2-16

Winners of The Next Big Idea 2016

Update

On Wednesday, May 4, judges from ZVRS, sponsor of The Next Big Idea Competition, reviewed projects of the six finalists, asked questions and selected the folloing winners:

$5,000  First Place:      Team Ugyo; Ethan Young and Nicole Dugan

$3,000  Second Place   Team Dalmation; Adam Brodak, Keith Delk and Jefrey Spinale

$2,000  Third Place       Team ANOVA; Musab Al-Smadi, Michelle Chi, Steven McClusky, Radhika Mehra

 

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Six teams of deaf and hard-of-hearing students from Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf will go head-to-head May 4 during The Next Big Idea competition.

The contest—6:30 to 10 p.m. in NTID’s Panara Theatre, Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall—is an annual event where teams of students combine skills related to their individual majors to create products, technology or businesses that will be useful to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Teams work with mentors on their projects and compete before judges for cash prizes. The event is sponsored by ZVRS, a video relay company.

This year marks the fifth anniversary of The Next Big Idea.

Student teams are:

  • Anova— a voice-to-text translation system for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals that uses a mini processor and microphone.
  • Asymtotic—incorporates microphones, tactile feedback, pulsation and sound filters that vibrate to engage the wearer in important situations.
  • Dalmation—a software service that focuses on providing jobs, volunteering opportunities, networking and resources for the American Sign Language community.
  • Douror—a service app for deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons that helps with placing food orders.
  • Echo—a speech-therapy mobile app that allows users to practice speech and give instantaneous feedback to speech therapists.
  • Ugyo—an access-technology prototype for deaf-blind people with Usher Syndrome to improve communication with peers during meetings or other interactive settings.

“Every year the excitement around this competition builds,” said Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “Amazing projects are presented and some of them move quickly into the marketplace. We thank ZVRS for their support, and are grateful for the belief they have in our students.”

The event—free and open to the public—will be fully accessible for both deaf and hearing audiences. For more information, contact ntidoutreach@rit.edu.

RIT/NTID program encourages students to pursue doctoral degrees

Lorne Farovitch with lab coat, gloves and glasses holding bottle with other bottles around him.

A new program at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf is helping fill the gap that exists when it comes to deaf and hard-of-hearing students earning doctoral degrees in science disciplines.

The Rochester Bridges to the Doctorate program, in partnership with University of Rochester and funded by a grant from the National Institute for General Medical Science, helps eligible students enrolled in master’s programs at RIT prepare and apply for doctoral programs in behavioral or biomedical science.

Up to three graduate students are selected each year for entry into the Bridges program. Most of their tuition is paid, and they also gain experience—and earn a paycheck—working in laboratories at RIT and UR. Throughout the program, they meet regularly with mentors who help prepare them for the academic rigors of earning a doctorate, attend at least two professional conferences and complete three research rotations at UR laboratories. Currently, there are six students enrolled in the Bridges program, and potential students are encouraged to apply.

“This is an amazing opportunity for aspiring deaf and hard-of-hearing scholars who have long been underserved and under-recognized,” said Peter Hauser, principal investigator for RIT and director of the Deaf Studies Laboratory at NTID. “To date, this is the first educational program specifically tailored to deaf and hard-of-hearing scholars who want to pursue advanced degrees. We are proud to have started this program in Rochester, a community characterized by a well-educated and large deaf population, with a unique and collaborative atmosphere.”

Lorne Farovitch, an environmental science master’s degree candidate from Tucson, Ariz., is completing his second year in the Bridges program at RIT/NTID. While he always knew that he wanted to earn his Ph.D., he needed expert advice to help him home in on his specialty.

“Before I entered the Bridges program, I enjoyed internship experiences in polymer science, neuroscience and marine biology,” said Farovitch. “But I was able to find my passion for microbiology and immunology through the Bridges program. I worked with Professor Martin Zand at UR to study lymphocytes and their capability to migrate through the body. My research with Professor Jeff Lodge at RIT allowed me to analyze water samples from Lake Ontario to determine pollution levels from medications that are distributed through open water. I studied how pathogens in water help spread disease, and how these diseases impact our health. My eyes were opened to a variety of skills, all of my questions were answered, and I was able to determine the path that I wanted to take.”

Scott Smith is a research associate professor at NTID and the Bridges program science mentorship director.

“Our Bridges students realize that deaf scholars can be scientists and work successfully with their hearing counterparts,” said Smith. “From professional development and training opportunities to support-group discussions with their peers and mentors, this program provides a personalized education plan to lead them on the path to earning that coveted doctoral degree. We’re teaching them how to become professional scientists.”

For more information on the Rochester Bridges to the Doctorate program, visit: http://deafscientists.com

Providing cyber security training and job opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing RIT students

female student with glasses working on computer next to male student with other students and computers in background

While most RIT students are sleeping late and enjoying some free time during spring break, 23 deaf and hard-of-hearing students are participating in a rigorous, week-long training designed to provide them with experience in the rapidly growing field of computer forensics.

The first-of-its-kind Computer Forensics Boot Camp for deaf and hard-of-hearing students held March 21-24 at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, provides 32 hours of training toward EnCase certification – the standard in cyber forensics.

The boot camp is the brainchild of RIT/NTID alumnus Scott Van Nice, systems manager, Forensics Information Security, Cyber Security – Threat Intel at Procter & Gamble, who has been on campus throughout the week. Van Nice connected with fellow RIT alumnus and president and CEO of Guidance Software Patrick Dennis, whose company is providing the training and who visited campus Tuesday. Procter & Gamble, Guidance Software and Ernst & Young are major sponsors of the boot camp.

Students were selected based on their high GPAs and majors related to the cyber forensics area such as Networking and Systems Administration, Criminal Justice, Human Computer Interaction and Computer Science.

“We are incredibly grateful to Guidance Software, Procter & Gamble, Ernst & Young, and all of the companies involved in making this boot camp a reality for our students,” said Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “Patrick, Scott and their companies recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion in all phases of business. The students attending the boot camp represent some of RIT/NTID’s best and brightest, and they are eager to take advantage of this outstanding opportunity for training.”

Computer forensics, sometimes known as cyber forensics or cyber security, is a field that is becoming increasingly more important to companies of all sizes.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The proliferation of criminal activity on the Internet, such as identity theft, spamming, e-mail harassment and illegal downloading of copyrighted materials, will increase the demand for private investigators. Opportunities are expected to be excellent for computer forensic investigators.”

Throughout the week, students have been in classroom training from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., breaking for lunches and dinners featuring keynote presentations by Van Nice, Dennis and others. A career night for program participants Wednesday evening featured networking opportunities with representatives from companies including Prudential, JP Morgan Chase, the CIA, Cisco, Comcast, Procter & Gamble and Ernst & Young.  

Princeton Review ranks RIT as a top video game design school

David Schwartz, director of RIT’s School of Interactive Games and Media

Rochester Institute of Technology is one of the top schools in the world to study—and launch a career in—game design, according to new international rankings from The Princeton Review.

RIT’s game design and development program was ranked third at the undergraduate level and seventh at the graduate level for 2016. RIT ranked sixth at both levels in 2015. RIT’s program is housed in the School of Interactive Games and Media within the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. More.