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RIT/NTID student team making strides with Wavio wireless sound recognition system

4 May

Greyson from Hz Innovations in black t-shirt explaining invention to man in suit and bow tie

The student team of Hz Innovations is confident that they have developed a product that deaf and hard-of-hearing homeowners can’t possibly live without. A working prototype of their Wavio wireless sound recognition system will be on display and in action at Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival, May 7.

Wavio contains sound-capturing units that are connected to a home Wi-Fi system. When a doorbell rings, smoke alarm chimes, water faucet drips or dog barks, for example, the unit notifies the homeowner via smartphone, smart watch, tablet or laptop, and identifies the sound. According to developers, virtually any sound deemed important to the homeowner can be recorded and “memorized” by the system during installation.

At the booth, visitors will participate in live demonstrations and be able to offer feedback on the Wavio device. The team is also interested in collecting testimonials from deaf and hard-of-hearing students and homeowners to find out how Wavio could impact their lives.

The team—Greyson Watkins, Chrystal Schlenker, Zach Baltzer and Nicholas Lamb—have won or placed in several local and regional business competitions over the past year and recently secured a contract to produce 1,000 units. In fact, with product manufacturing a key component to success, the co-founders are anxious to grow their team and are encouraging students to drop off résumés at their Imagine RIT booth in the Student Alumni Union.

“We’re certainly looking for deaf people and engineers to join our team,” said Lamb, a fifth-year electrical engineering student from Waterloo, N.Y. “And we’re also looking for people who are anxious to learn more about becoming part of a unique start-up business.”

Added Baltzer, a fourth-year microelectronic engineering student from Hilton, N.Y., “It’s amazing that a little more than a year ago we were looking for a cool project to focus on. Now we’re co-founders of a company.”

First-generation graduating RIT/NTID student commited to serving community

2 May

Susana Flores is a first-generation college student and community service director for the Latin American Deaf Club.

Susana Flores, a fourth-year museum studies student and community service director for the Latin American Deaf Club, is dedicated to helping others on and off campus and raising awareness for Latino culture. Flores, from Antioch, Calif., is the only deaf person in her family and the first to attend college. She found her place at the Latin American Deaf Club because of the support system it fosters. Organizing service projects with club members and collecting artwork for the Latinx Art Exhibit helped her develop leadership and teamwork skills. After graduation, she plans to pursue a master’s degree and work for a museum.

Question: What brought you to RIT?
Answer: RIT/NTID is a wonderful school that provides great opportunities with accessibility and diversity. I learned about RIT when a NTID admission counselor traveled to my school and gave a special presentation to my high school. I attended the spring open house before I became a student in the fall.

Q: Why did you choose your major?
A: I always enjoyed art, history, science and philosophy. Museum studies consisted of all the hobbies I enjoyed. At the same time, museum studies was a new program under the College of Liberal Arts in 2010 so I took the opportunity when I learned about it.

Q: What are some goals you achieved at RIT?
A: I obtained an associate degree from the College of Liberal Arts. I was NTID’s first Latina exhibitioner to host the Latinx Art Exhibit at Dyer Art Gallery last fall. As a Latina and a museum studies student, I had the experience to create the project for the Latin American Deaf Club’s Hispanic heritage awareness event. The club and I worked together with the art gallery to collect, organize and label the Latinx artists and their artworks. Another one of my goals was helping the club become recognized under NTID Student Congress for its achievements with community service. I served as the president and I’m currently the community service director. My goals for the organization are to get involved with the community and help others. We have done several clothing and food drives, fundraised for Rochester’s Breast Cancer Association and collaborated with other diverse clubs.

Q: How is NTID your second home?
A: NTID became my second home when I discovered myself at RIT. When I first arrived, I knew no one and was already overwhelmed with the diversity here. After few months, I made new friends and made it on the Dean’s List. After my first year, I decided to join Latin American Deaf Club and realized that it had something that reminded me of home. It was the members’ family-oriented attitude that encouraged me to stay here especially during times when I was homesick.

Q: How has being a member of the Latin American Deaf Club helped you grow as a student?
A: Latin American Deaf Club has helped me shape into a mature and strong woman. Working with the team for five years has helped me become more patient. I think more as a leader and act as a team member. The experience itself was very enriching and important to me.

Q: Why is volunteering for the community important to you?
A: Volunteering for the RIT and Rochester community is very important to me and to other students because it helps us prepare and practice our communication and organization skills for reality after college.

Q: What does it mean for you to be the first one in your family to graduate from college?
A: It is truly an honor and a responsibility for me to carry out and establish a better role model for my younger family members to follow if they choose to continue their education too.

Q: What advice would you give first-generation students?
A: My advice to first-generation students is to stay ambitious, determined and keep an open mind. Try new opportunities, gain experiences and build new points of view. Always keep building bridges with new networks for after-college and future use.

Q: After you graduate, what are your plans?
A: My plans are to stay in school for another two years to earn a master’s degree. Then my goal is to get a job with a museum institute and build my work experience. I also want to travel to Europe to learn more about deaf history and deaf studies.

First-generation graduating NTID student committed to serving community

28 Apr

Susana Flores wearing orange shirt and sitting on bench outdoors

Susana Flores, a fourth-year museum studies student and community service director for NTID’s Latin American Deaf Club, is dedicated to helping others on and off campus and raising awareness for Latino culture. Flores, from Antioch, Calif., is the only deaf person in her family and the first to attend college. She found her place with the Latin American Deaf Club because of the support system it fosters. Organizing service projects with club members and collecting artwork for the Latinx Art Exhibit helped her develop leadership and teamwork skills. After graduation, she plans to pursue a master’s degree and work for a museum.

Question: What brought you to RIT?
Answer: RIT/NTID is a wonderful school that provides great opportunities with accessibility and diversity. I learned about RIT when an NTID admission counselor traveled to my school and gave a presentation. I attended the spring open house on campus before I became a student in the fall.

Q: Why did you choose your major?
A: I always enjoyed art, history, science and philosophy. Museum studies consisted of all the hobbies I enjoyed. At the same time, museum studies was a new program under the College of Liberal Arts in 2010, so I took the opportunity when I learned about it.

Q: What are some goals you achieved at RIT?
A: I obtained an associate degree from the College of Liberal Arts. I was NTID’s first Latina exhibitioner to host the Latinx Art Exhibit in the Dyer Arts Center last fall. As a Latina and a museum studies student, I had the experience to create the project for the Latin American Deaf Club’s Hispanic heritage awareness event. The club and I worked together with the art gallery to collect, organize and label works by Latinx artists. Another one of my goals was helping the club become recognized under NTID Student Congress for its achievements with community service. I served as the president, and I’m currently the community service director. My goals for the organization are to get involved with the community and help others. We have done several clothing and food drives, fundraised for Rochester’s Breast Cancer Association and collaborated with other diverse clubs.

Q: How is NTID your second home?
A: NTID became my second home when I discovered myself at RIT. When I first arrived, I knew no one and was already overwhelmed with the diversity here. After few months, I made new friends and made it on the Dean’s List. After my first year, I decided to join Latin American Deaf Club and realized that it had something that reminded me of home. It was the members’ family-oriented attitude that encouraged me to stay here especially during times when I was homesick.

Q: How has being a member of the Latin American Deaf Club helped you grow as a student?
A: Latin American Deaf Club has helped shape me into a mature and strong woman. Working with the team for five years has helped me become more patient. I think more as a leader and act as a team member. The experience itself was very enriching and important to me.

Q: Why is volunteering for the community important to you?
A: Volunteering for the RIT and Rochester community is very important to me and to other students because it helps us prepare and practice our communication and organization skills for reality after college.

Q: What does it mean for you to be the first one in your family to graduate from college?
A: It is truly an honor and a responsibility for me to carry out and establish a better role model for my younger family members to follow if they choose to continue their education, too.

Q: What advice would you give first-generation students?
A: My advice to first-generation students is to stay ambitious, determined and keep an open mind. Try new opportunities, gain experiences and build new points of view. Always keep building bridges with new networks for after-college and future use.

Q: After you graduate, what are your plans?
A: My plans are to stay in school for another two years to earn a master’s degree. Then my goal is to get a job with a museum institute and build my work experience. I also want to travel to Europe to learn more about deaf history and deaf studies

RIT/NTID holds Student Research Fair

14 Apr

Photo by: Jorge Samper

Cody Cummings, a laboratory science technology student from Austin, Texas, is hoping that his research in the analysis of the sealant bitumen from objects will help archaeologists better determine when and where ancient artifacts were created.

Nicole Pannullo, a chemistry student from East Patchogue, N.Y., is using fluorescence to improve our understanding of what’s in our water.

On Friday, April 15, Cummings and Pannullo will join 27 other deaf and hard-of-hearing student researchers at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf’s Student Research Fair, 10 a.m.–noon, in Rosica Hall, Rochester Institute of Technology. This first-ever event at NTID will give undergraduate and graduate students, in partnership with faculty mentors, the opportunity to present posters or give demonstrations on topics related health science, communication studies, access technology and environmental research, among others. The Student Research Fair also coincides with National Undergraduate Research Week.

Todd Pagano, associate dean for Teaching and Scholarship Excellence and founding director of NTID’s Laboratory Science Technology program, is among the coordinators of the research fair.

“NTID has a history of providing our students with access to cutting-edge technology that helps enhance their research endeavors,” said Pagano. “Pair that with a top-notch core education and partnerships with faculty mentors who are experts in their fields, and it’s apparent that we are able to successfully deliver a strong research-based student experience.”

Jessica Contreras, an experimental psychology graduate student from Eagle River, Alaska, will also present her research. She has found that deaf people who are raised in impoverished language environments do not develop executive function skills—like focus attention, planning processes, remembering instructions and multitasking—as optimally as those who have had normal exposure to language since birth.

Lorne Farovitch, an environmental science master’s degree candidate from Tucson, Ariz., is studying the survival rate of various pathogens in surface water and sediments that will help him and others in the field understand the relationship between the evolution of antibiotic resistances and their capability to survive in environments where they don’t normally live.

“There are several ways to examine the pollution level in water,” explained Farovitch. “If the pathogens are able to survive in water and sediment samples for a long time, that tells me it is polluted with a high concentration of nutrients. The most polluted nutrients come from wastewater and drainage water from agricultural land.”

The Student Research Fair is funded by the NTID Office of the President and jointly sponsored by the associate dean for teaching and scholarship excellence and the associate dean of research.

RIT/NTID alumnus making his mark in Washington, D.C.

31 Mar

Photo by: Mark Benjamin

Christopher Samp graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in public policy, and in 2010 completed a master’s degree in science, technology and public policy. He currently works as a research assistant for U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (Illinois) and is heavily involved in the deaf and hard-of hearing community in Washington, D.C. More.