Unlocking Your Potential: A Journey Through RIT's Graduate Experience

A student standing with a conference lanyard around her neck.

Pinaki Babar, a graduate student in Human-Computer Interaction, at the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) CHI Conference in 2023.

Congratulations on your acceptance into RIT! I'm Pinaki, a current grad student in Human-Computer Interaction, and let me tell you — buckle up for an incredible ride. Remember that heart-pounding mix of excitement and terror when you saw the acceptance letter? Yeah, I get it. Starting grad school, especially in a new country, can feel like a wild leap. But trust me, RIT makes it an exhilarating adventure, not a lonely trek.

The academics here are challenging, no doubt about it. The professors are industry veterans who push you to think critically and apply your knowledge to real-world problems. It can be intense, but that's exactly what I was looking for — a chance to grow and be pushed to my limits. The good news is that the support system at RIT is fantastic. From academic advisors who guide you through your course selection to tutoring services and writing centers that help you excel in your assignments, they'll help you overcome any academic hurdles that come your way so you can feel confident in your ability to succeed.

Two students facing each other, one in with a virtual reality headset on.

Pinaki Babar and a fellow student using a virtual reality (VR) headset.

As an international student myself, I know the initial jitters of starting grad school in a new country. But here's the secret – RIT has a massive international student population, and there are tons of clubs, over 300 in total!  From the International Student Association to regional cultural groups, you'll find a welcoming community where you can connect with people from all over the world. And the campus life? Thriving! There's a club for everything you can imagine, from gaming (hello, fellow gamers!) to cultural groups like the OASIS club, perfect for celebrating festivals and sharing your heritage.

Rochester itself might surprise you. This friendly, mid-sized city has become my home away from home. The cost of living is a dream compared to major coastal cities. The city offers a thriving arts scene, delicious global cuisine (think affordable adventures in flavor!), and even historical landmarks to explore. Nature lovers? There are plenty of hiking trails, parks, and even the majestic Niagara Falls within driving distance. Plus, there's the Rochester Fringe Festival — a hidden gem! This annual explosion of artistic expression is a must for any creative soul. Last year, I performed a sand animation show there!

Imagine this: Diving headfirst into the world of emerging technologies like VR, AR, and AI, pushing the boundaries of technology alongside brilliant professors who are like real-life superheroes in their fields. That's just a taste of the incredible research opportunities that await you at RIT. But here's the best part – it's not all about textbooks and beakers. When I first arrived at RIT, my goals were a little fuzzy. But then, something incredible happened. I got an opportunity to become a Graduate Research Assistant to develop an AI-powered VR training platform specifically designed to empower people with disabilities.

I collaborated with New York state’s most prominent non-profit organizations through this project, reaching over 30,000 individuals. It was a humbling and rewarding experience to see my work making a real difference in people's lives. My research journey didn't stop there. My work was published twice in the prestigious ACM CHI Conference (2023 and 2024). Suddenly, thanks to the fantastic support of my department and college, I was on a plane to Germany, presenting my work in front of industry leaders! Those two weeks were surreal. I was surrounded by the top researchers in my field. I realized that top researchers are also people like you and me– just with an insatiable curiosity and a head full of questions. This built my self-confidence, and I returned with new vigor and dreams about the future. We spent hours discussing everything from user research and behavioral psychology to the latest tech, even philosophy, culture, and just plain old life. It was an eye-opening experience that showed me the power of research and the incredible community, all thanks to RIT.

Collage of three photos of a student presenting at a conference and posing in front a sign that says CHI2023.

Pinaki Babar presenting her research at Association of Computing Machinery's CHI conference in 2023. 

That's not all! RIT's Magic Center, this fantastic hub for local startups, became another playground for my passion. Working alongside some of Rochester's most innovative minds, I saw my research and design work transformed into tangible solutions that could impact the real world. Here, you'll have the chance to collaborate with entrepreneurs, tech enthusiasts, and industry professionals, expanding your network and gaining invaluable insights into the industry. It was the perfect blend of theory and practice, a chance to bridge the gap between groundbreaking ideas and real-world applications.

My journey continues this year — another paper has been accepted, and another conference is on the horizon. The possibilities at RIT are endless and trust me, yours are just beginning. Embrace the challenge, the late-night brainstorming sessions fueled by coffee and camaraderie, and the chance to make a real difference in the world.

Welcome to the pack, future Tiger! This is your chance to roar, to push boundaries, and to create something extraordinary. And hey, if you ever need a study buddy,

I’m here!



About the author

Graduate Student
Human Computer Interaction

As a Human-Computer Interaction graduate student, I spend most of my days designing, researching, and talking to people. But when I'm not seeking out over interfaces, you can find me getting creative with paints and words– I'm an artist and writer at heart. With a vibrant social circle and a zest for fun, I'm the kind of friend who's game for any spontaneous shenanigans or lively banter over ice-creams. People often say I'm a good listener. So, what's your story?