Category Archives: Student Life

Winners of RIT/NTID’s Next Big Idea announced

Chris Wagner, Wade Keller, Hans Khols and Gerry Buckley together in front of brick wall with a check.

BAGMAG, a hands-free solution for making skateboards more easily portable on the back of a backpack, took home the $5,000 first prize in the 2017 Next Big Idea competition at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

Judges from the competition’s sponsor, ZVRS, a video relay service headquartered in Clearwater, Florida, reviewed the projects of the four team finalists, asked questions and selected first, second and third place winners:

$5,000 First Place: BAGMAG, uses a strong magnet inserted on the backpack that connects to a strong magnet affixed to the bottom of the skateboard and eliminates the need to remove the backpack and use straps to affix the skateboard.

$3,000 Second Place: ASL Storyteller, an interactive app that offers sign language to babies, both hearing and deaf, to help with language development and creates a richer environment for signing babies.

$2,000 Third Place: Expect Zone, a rear-view mirror with three flashing lights that lets deaf or hard-of-hearing drivers know when an ambulance, police car or fire engine is coming near. It flashes more quickly as the emergency vehicle gets closer.     

Four teams of deaf and hard-of-hearing students from Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf went head-to-head April 26 during The Next Big Idea Competition, a ”Shark Tank” style business competition.

The contest is an annual event where teams of students combine skills related to their individual majors to create innovative products, technology or businesses. Teams work with mentors on their projects and compete before judges for cash prizes. This year marks the sixth anniversary of The Next Big Idea competition.

Team members are:

ASL Storyteller—Julie Love, a Graphic Design major from Riverside , California, and Logan Lugo, an International Business major from Columbus, Ohio.

BAGMAG—Hans Khols , an Industrial Design major from Boston, Massachusetts, and Wade Kellard, a Mechanical Engineering Technology major from Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Expect Zone— Amelia Hamilton, a New Media Marketing major from Austin, Texas, and Tanner Ketchum, an Accounting Technology major from Austin, Texas.

VIGN— Tobin Zolkowski, a Communication and Criminal Justice major from Neenah, Wisconsin, Iswor Ghimire, a Global Computing major from Nepal, Mohd Afifi Ishak, an Industrial Design major from Malaysia, and Jose Lopez, an Applied Computer Technology major from Los Angeles, California. Vign, described as a “Netflix for deaf people,” is designed to stream program content in sign language.

 “The Next Big Idea competition is the culmination of a tremendous amount of hard work, creativity and innovation on the part of these student inventors and entrepreneurs,” said Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “We have seen some amazing products and services start in this competition and move into production. We thank ZVRS for their steadfast support since the beginning of the Next Big Idea, and are grateful for the belief they have in our students.” 

Outstanding Undergraduate Scholars 2017

Five students and an administrator pose against an orange and brown backdrop on stage

The Outstanding Undergraduate Scholar Awards

Congratulations to RIT/NTID’s Outstanding Undergraduate Scholars, who are pictured here with NTID Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Stephen Aldersely: left to right, Radhika Mehra, Joan Bempong, Annie Monaco, Aldersley, Sarah LaMascus and Maxfield Orr.

A tradition at RIT since 1976, the Outstanding Undergraduate Scholar Awards honor the top 1% of undergraduate students who are able to maintain a high standard of academic excellence while also giving back to their community through civic or volunteer work, conducting research or being engaged in co-op or work in their field of study.

The awards event itself not only celebrates our Outstanding Undergraduate Scholars, but it also gives them an opportunity to acknowledge a past teacher or professor who has had a significant impact on their academic career.

Introducing RIT/NTID’s New Athlete Development Program

Headshot photo of male wearing gingham check orange shirt.

A new program is underway, making the competitive world of collegiate sports even more accessible to all students.The RIT/NTID Athlete Development Program  provides support and training to improve quality of deaf and hard-of-hearing athletes’ experience as key members of their respective athletic programs. Skip Flangan, RIT/NTID’s athlete development coordinator, is working closely with RIT varsity coaches, NTID faculty and staff and, of course, the athletes themselves to help ensure greatness on and off the field, court or track. More.

RIT/NTID Greek Life

Rochester Institute of Technology is home to 32 diverse international, national and local Greel organizations offering students an opportunity to enhance college life in a unique environment. Commitment to personal and organizational excellence is the cornerstone for an RIT Greek experience, and each fraternity and sorority shares a deep commitment to development of the individual members as well as the entire chapter.

RIT’s sororities and fraternities have promoted scholarship, actively participated in a variety of community service projects, raised money for their national philanthropies, competed in athletic and intramural sports and socialized with other organizations.

The RIT/NTID students in this video are from various majors and are in various stages of their college career, but all share the pride in their chosen organization, and in what that group gives to each individual, the college and the community.

Hundreds of students attend RIT/NTID’s annual job fair

Student in black shirt chats with representatives from Texas Instruments.

Representatives from more than 40 local and national corporations, federal agencies and nonprofit organizations met with hundreds of deaf and hard-of-hearing students—who are also prospective employees—at the 16th annual job fair, on October 19, at RIT/NTID.

“Employers had the opportunity to recruit talented deaf and hard-of-hearing students in associate and bachelor’s degree programs such as business, finance, graphic design, engineering, computing and more,” said John Macko, director of NTID’s Center on Employment.

Companies represented included Google, Yahoo, Aetna, Baxter Health Care, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Dow Chemical Co., Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Harris Corp., Internal Revenue Service, Lockheed Martin, and the U.S. Department of Defense, among others.

“Employers continue to want highly qualified employees who bring the necessary skills and who will fit into the company culture and contribute to the company’s success,” said Macko. “Our students are well trained and can hit the ground running at companies right here in Rochester and all over the country.”

Check out the video from this year’s job fair.

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.”