Lessons learned fighting the coronavirus this fall will prepare RIT for new challenges in the spring
RIT successfully completed all 13 weeks of in-person instruction this fall without having to suspend or cancel classes due to coronavirus outbreaks. Despite having a large, active campus with students from many countries and all 50 states, RIT had a relatively low rate of infection and avoided major outbreaks.
From Aug. 19 to Nov. 24 (the final day of in-person classes) on the main RIT campus:
• Ninety students tested positive for coronavirus out of a student population of 16,701.
• Twenty employees tested positive out of 3,605.
RIT’s Multidisciplinary Senior Design program began last fall with more projects for engineering student teams than expected, despite the pandemic.
From collaborations with other universities and NASA to an anthropologist needing a robotic model of a dinosaur tail, all the projects represent innovative technologies built with sustainable, user-friendly designs.
When Carla Stebbins redesigned the health systems management MS degree, she included a culminating travel course in Sweden for her students to observe a different approach to health care. Stebbins, program director, built the online hybrid program to educate health care leaders to navigate a quickly changing field and widen their perspective. Even though COVID-19 canceled the trip, Stebbins found a solution and “made lemonade out of lemons.”
Virtual intercultural experiences (VIE) bring students from RIT’s campuses across the globe together
International travel restrictions due to the coronavirus have been an obstacle to study abroad opportunities this fall, but RIT has found creative ways to provide students virtual intercultural experiences instead. As one example, this semester RIT is offering several classes designed with intercultural components in partnership with RIT’s global campuses.
Cecilia Mao and Tanvi Thakur planned to start their first days as RIT Tigers in Rochester. As the COVID pandemic unfolded across the globe, the students from China and India shifted plans. They took advantage of onsite alternatives at RIT’s global campuses and a variety of online offerings.
While the pandemic touched RIT locally, Ruben Proano, associate professor of industrial engineering in RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering, saw it from a global perspective, as part of a year-long sabbatical at UNICEF in Copenhagen, Denmark. He has since returned to Rochester and is teaching this fall semester. His work in Denmark extended ongoing research on making the vaccine market more affordable and profitable, and studying how to set up a global safety stock for Ebola vaccines.