RIT's annual Undergraduate Research and Innovation Symposium is evidence of the innovation and creativity alive on the RIT campus. This year's symposium, held August 13, drew more than 150 student presentations across all disciplines. Their ideas, passion, and inspiration are the future of American innovation.
"You could have the next FaceBooker, Dean Kamen, or Thomas Edison for all I know," says Dr. Jon Schull, interim director of the Center for Student Innovation.
Corey Mack, a mechanical engineering technology major, presented his idea to convert intermodal shipping containers into low-cost disaster relief housing powered with solar arrays. Another psychology student, Rachel Lorenz, presented her research on the psychology of nicotine addiction. Meanwhile, Abbey Burns and Benjamin Jilson, industrial and systems engineering students, offered a new approach to optimize the layout of a wind farm. These are just a sample of the dozens of innovative ideas and research presented.
A panel of distinguished business leaders and alumni served as judges for the symposium. "We were blown away by the intellectual curiosity, passion, and level of difficulty that students pursued these projects with," says Dr. Kenneth Reed, graduate of the College of Science and 2008 Outstanding Alum. For these reasons the judges agreed it was impossible to declare just a few winners. Instead, the center agreed to establish the RIT Student Research and Innovation Grants program. The program will be administered by and for the students who participated in the symposium.
The program was initiated by a contribution from the center and an additional commitment by Reed. The grants will be awarded to students to help advance their innovations.
"For students it's about pursuing a dream, for society it's about incubating new technologies, and for the university it's part of the process of becoming an innovation university," adds Schull.