Faculty and Staff of the Simone Center
Richard DeMartino, Director
Dr. DeMartino holds the Albert J. Simone Endowed Chair for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). He also serves as the of director the Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which promotes innovation and entrepreneurship education and activity throughout the RIT community.
His administrative responsibilities include promotion of the RIT Innovation and Entrepreneurship eco-system. In this capacity, he works to develop diverse and inclusive experiential and multidisciplinary innovation and entrepreneurship activities. In this role, he promotes and facilitates innovation and entrepreneurship activities throughout the RIT Community. His innovations include collaborative efforts founding and administering the Saunders College of Business Summer Start-up Program, the Technology Commercialization Clinic, the Small Business Strategic Growth Program, and the Digital Entrepreneurship Program.
Rupa Thind, Associate Director
Rupa joined the Simone Center team in 2010 where she now holds the position of associate director. She helps facilitate multi-disciplinary student innovation and entrepreneurship learning across the RIT community, while also managing and administrating various programs. Her responsibilities also include managing cohort specific entrepreneurship courses, guest speaking activities, student recruiting, and coordination with student services and academic units.
In addition, she helps establish, develop, and schedule events for the Simone Center including Idea Contests, Tiger Tank competitions, Business Plan Contest, Entrepreneurship Conference, Imagine RIT, Saunders Summer Start-up Program, and many more. She communicates to internal (RIT students, faculty, and staff) and external (alumni and community) stakeholders while also collaborating with faculty and key staff members to enhance student programming and launch new programs.
She also focuses on developing marketing and communication materials such as brochures, newsletters, website content, etc. and provide program management for such activities as the Entrepreneurship Conference, Business Plan contest, Signature Speaker series, Saunders Summer Start-up Program, etc.
Dana W. Wolcott, Lead Innovation Coach
Dana is the Lead Innovation Coach for the Simone Center, his roles and responsibilities includes coaching teams of students through the process of customer discovery, design thinking and application of the business model canvas. Whether it occurs in our formal class, Applied Entrepreneurship, or in one of our many programs, i.e. IdeaLab, Saunders Summer Start-up, Studio 930, Tiger Tank, Business Model competitions, or the National Science Foundation I-Corps, his role as coach is to inform and guide the students and professors through the innovation and entrepreneurship processes.
Additionally, it is his responsibility to recruit, train and lead the many coaches and judges who participate in Simone Center classes and programs. Having had the role of new product and business development leader at Eastman Kodak and having been the Director of the Innovation Network, Dana has been provided the ideal background and experience to make his position in the Center both exciting and rewarding.
Family, basketball tournaments, motorcycle rides and ideas!!
Mike Buffalin, Director of the Construct
Mike is the director of the Student Makerspace at RIT, fondly known as The Construct. Areas of interest include additive manufacturing, product development and entrepreneurship. His roles include organizing and managing the Construct and helping students build and create prototypes and other needs for their business ideas and concepts.
Mike is an alumnus of RIT and has been through several Simone Center programs and competitions himself. He is very well versed in prototyping and is extremely knowledgeable about the resources available on campus.
Kayla Wheeler, Project Manager
Kayla joined the Simone Center team in November 2016 as a project manager. She completed her undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering and graduate MBA degree both at RIT. She is responsible for organizing, planning and managing the Simone Center events, programs and competitions while also marketing and recruiting students to participate and understand all of the resources the Simone Center has to offer.
Jeff Arywitz, Venture Coach
Jeff has been coaching entrepreneurs since 2010 when he began volunteering for The Entrepreneurs Network. Through this experience, Jeff found a new passion in helping companies develop successful, investable business plans and creating effective, executable growth strategies.
Now, as a Venture Coach at RIT’s Venture Creations Incubator, Jeff is dedicated to helping new technology companies and clean energy start-ups build strong businesses. With years of extensive experience working at the intersection of marketing, product development, and customer engagement, Jeff is passionate about delivering success for new technology products and services.
Prior to 2010, Jeff held executive roles in technology marketing, sales, product development, and e-commerce management with several multinational companies, most notably the Eastman Kodak Company. In addition to his work at Venture Creations, Jeff coaches student and faculty entrepreneur teams at RIT’s Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and teaches innovation in RIT’s School of Individualized Studies. Jeff is a graduate of RIT, with an MBA from the Saunders College of Business.
Dan Harel, IdeaLab Lead & Advisor, Adjunct Professor of Industrial Design
Dan is a professional industrial and furniture designer and a master in creating superior user experiences. At Eastman Kodak Company, where he spent most of his career, Dan focused on inspiring a vision for future user experiences through design innovation, understanding consumer needs and trends and defining new business opportunities for the company.
His roles at RIT include teaching advanced studio courses with focus on Design Thinking, user experience and multidisciplinary collaborations. He is the recipient of the Edline M. Chun Award for Outstanding Teaching and Service in the College of Imaging Arts & Sciences (2016). In addition, Dan leads the IdeaLab at the RIT’s Simone Center for Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship, working with clients such as Al Sigl and Rochester Regional Hospital with prime focus on medical and access technology problem areas.
At Studio 930 design consultancy, Dan serves as an overall project advisor to the multidisciplinary student teams and as an administrative manager to the program. Dan is also the principal and co-owner of Invision Design Partners, LLC, a residential and business interior design firm established in 2008 in Rochester, NY. He is the inventor of over 20 US and international patents and holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Industrial Design.