Projects from EUREKA! design workshop see real-world application

EUREKA! 2021 participants, from left, Leora Mouli, Sneha Yalgi, Allie Cervantes, Marissa Hayes and Jay Riley. During the workshop, they developed an Instagram strategy to promote Washington Grove, a sprawling old-growth forest in the City of Rochester, that will be used by the nonprofit behind the park's upkeep.

Each year, RIT students have the opportunity to participate in EUREKA!, a multi-level, interdisciplinary, 48-hour workshop that addresses a challenge faced by a community partner. 

The objective is for teams of students to introduce their design solutions to community partners for possible implementation, which has been the case for three recent EUREKA! events:

Friends of Washington Grove

The 2021 workshop client was Friends of Washington Grove, a local non-profit that helps manage the 26-acre, old-growth forest within the City of Rochester’s Cobb’s Hill Park. Teams were split into different areas to address the prompt of finding new ways to promote the many benefits and beauty of the urban park, commonly described as a hidden gem of Rochester. 

Teams FunGuyz and No Barriers completed projects for Washington Grove that are set for real-world application this summer. 

FunGuyz members included Allie Cervantes, Marissa Hayes, Jay Riley and Sneha Yalgi (graphic design); and Leora Mouli (biomedical engineering). The team created an instruction manual to manage and modernize the Grove’s Instagram presence as well as story and post templates for the platform. 

“Working with Washington Grove through EUREKA! really made me feel validated in my design work,” Riley said. “It felt great knowing that I was able to work with a team to make a real-world impact as well as designing in a setting outside of the RIT campus. I am  grateful that Washington Grove reached out to my team and others to move forward in making our pitches a reality, and I hope that our work further cements the Grove as a well-known and attractive spot in the Rochester community.”

Team No Barriers featured Brooklyn Hutchison and Isabella Madeira (graphic design); Carolyn Lee (new media design); and Rohith Paul Lakkena (human-computer interaction (MS). The students researched Washington Grove wildlife and compiled a listing to be shared on social media and other promotions.

“EUREKA! has provided me a wonderful opportunity to work with the Grove,” Lee said. “It’s been an amazing experience working on a team, contributing to the park and getting to know the members of the Grove. I am so glad I participated in the program.”

Friends of Washington Grove President Kristy Liddell expressed appreciation to the teams for   their work and commitment. 

“We appreciate the opportunity to work with these visionary and engaged scholars with the direction of Professor Lorrie Frear,” Liddell said. “Their ideas and their help with our first steps have given our board fresh energy as we work to create a more inclusive community around the Grove.”

Veterans Outreach Center

Students partnered with Veterans Outreach Center (VOC) in 2019 to form proposals for new ways to attract younger veterans and soldiers to the nonprofit organization that offers supportive services to veterans and their families.

Team Archimedes’ multi-component recruitment campaign included running events, streamlining the center’s social media presence and creating a fitness center. The team consisted of Maggie Blaisdell, Isabella Madeira and Olivia Sanders (graphic design); Lydia Krogh (industrial design); and Wystan Wang (new media design). 

“Working with the VOC through EUREKA! was one of my favorite experiences at RIT,” said Blaisdell ’22. “They are great people with a wonderful mission. I’m so honored to have been a part of it.”

Marianne Sernoffsky, VOC female and family outreach program manager, said a new fitness center in the VOC Morale Center recently opened to serve younger veterans.

"I am so thankful to have had the experience of working with the Veterans Outreach Center through EUREKA!,” Madeira said. “The fitness center they opened will do so much to support younger veterans in the area, and it feels great to have been a part of it."

Rochester Refugee Resettlement Center

In 2018, students worked with Rochester Refugee Resettlement Services (RRRS) and Michael Kelly ’17 MFA (industrial design), principal and co-founder of Rochester Refugee Sewing and Repair, a project of RRRS that provides refugees skills training and paid work in industrial sewing. EUREKA! participants developed fresh strategies for organizing and using donated clothing to make a series of products.

Team Iris’s solution included a language-free system of icons to assist Rochester Refugee Sewing and Repair participants in organizing donated materials. Other team solutions that have been implemented from this EUREKA! event include the creation of a product line of hair scrunchies sold under the name Kitimaya.

Team Iris included Ezra Boyd, Tess Roberts and Brianna Young (graphic design); Nik Delgado (new media design); and Jingyu Cao (visual communication design MFA).

For more information about EUREKA! — started by Lorrie Frear, professor of graphic design, in 2014 — visit the project’s website or contact Frear at

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