Research abounds in RIT’s College of Art and Design, supplying students with additional needs, skills, technologies, and experiences that enrich their academic careers. The college is home to a recognized world leader in preservation research, archived collections of dozens of eminent designers, sponsored research by faculty and staff, and collaborations with esteemed industry partners.

Research Connections

Design Research at RIT

Faculty members discuss work being done in new media design, 3D digital design and industrial design and how collaboration with researchers in other fields like engineering and sciences is impacting their and students’ work.

Cultural Preservation

RIT’s Image Permanence Institute (IPI) — housed in the College of Art and Design — is a nonprofit, academic research center renowned for its development and deployment of sustainable practices for the preservation of images and cultural heritage. With funding primarily from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, IPI provides information, consulting services, practical tools, and preservation technology to libraries, archives, and museums on a global scale.


Graphics Atlas

A sophisticated resource operated by Image Permanence Institute, Graphics Atlas is a unique, object-based approach for the identification and characterization of prints and photographs. The underlying goal of this research is to better understand the relationship between photographic materials, process, and aesthetic characteristics using primarily visual examination techniques. This approach provides the foundation for preservation and care of image collections.


A cross section of an inkjet print is performed
A cross section of an inkjet print is performed within IPI. Cross sections help the research center better understand the physical structure of the material. By Matteo Bracco.

Archive Utilization

The archives at RIT serve the prevalent role of being dynamic and didactic research and educational tools. Between RIT’s Vignelli Center for Design Studies and Cary Graphic Arts Collection, more than 85 prominent designers’ work is accessible for study by students, faculty, staff, scholars, and researchers everywhere.


RIT’s Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction, and Creativity (MAGIC) — housed within the state-of-the-art MAGIC Spell Studios — supports research and entrepreneurial activities within RIT and in Western New York. Faculty and students from various departments partner to work on sponsored research and independent study projects focused in film, games, AR/VR, and interactive experiences. Many of these projects are born through faculty portfolios and sponsorship, but MAGIC also proudly hosts and mentors student teams pursuing their own extracurricular interests. Dedicated laboratory space is available for faculty, research assistants, and independent student teams to work throughout the year. RIT students and faculty also regularly work with outside organizations and companies on collaborative research projects to solve design challenges and produce original commissioned work in games, media, and interactive experiences. 


A student works in a stop motion studio
Among MAGIC Spell Studios' many work spaces is a stop motion studio. By Elizabeth Lamark.

Partnership Power

Faculty from all College of Art and Design schools are immersed in research, and their partnerships with industry enhance student learning opportunities. A recent example is Christye Sisson, associate professor and program chair of Photographic Sciences, being the principal investigator of a government-funded project. Sisson, other faculty, and students were part of a world-class group of researchers working to develop an algorithmic-based platform that can identify image, audio, and video manipulation.

A class full of students
Faculty Christye Sisson and undergraduate students in the Photographic Sciences, Imaging Science, Motion Picture Science and Media Arts and Technology programs work on detecting media manipulation. Photo by Dylan Peter Obser.

RIT’s College of Art and Design has other multidisciplinary collaborations with a number of partner companies, including:

Autodesk: RIT and Autodesk, the California-based international leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreement to work together in various capacities. The partnership has opened professional doors for RIT students and resulted in them being provided exclusive access to alpha and beta versions of the company’s software, breakthrough effective access technology solutions and job hires. The company also flew RIT students to its offices in Portland, Ore., to meet with its product teams and provide direct feedback.

In 2019, another MOU between RIT and Autodesk was signed to expand multidisciplinary educational initiatives across the university. It is the first university-wide partnership agreement between Autodesk and a U.S. college. An early result of the latest partnership agreement is that Generative Design (GD) technology in Autodesk's flagship Fusion 360 software is available to all faculty and students at RIT. GD is used for creating designs that use significantly less material with nature-inspired forms. 

Alex Lobos, associate professor and graduate director of Industrial Design (MFA), first spearheaded RIT's relationship with Autodesk in 2011.


Faculty with Autodesk executives
Associate professor Stan Rickel, right, with Autodesk executives during the software company's 2019 visit to RIT. Photo by Sam Kang.

Nikon: Nikon sponsors on-campus lectures by guest speakers from industry and student travel and co-op opportunities, consigns photography gear, and runs student and faculty purchase programs. Additionally, Nikon is a longtime sponsor of The Big Shot — the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences’ nighttime community photo project that has captured dramatic images of landmarks around the world since 1987.


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