#myRITstory – Zach Mulhollan

Graduate Program: Imaging Science PhD (second year student)

Last Wednesday Zach Mulhollan, current RIT student, presented the company he founded, and a business plan to grow it, at the Saunders College Summer Startup Investor Demo Night. His company Tiger CGM is a personal glucose monitor for patients with Diabetes. The monitors provide an empathetic and user-friendly approach to measuring real-time glucose levels 24 hours a day, while also providing its user actionable information that can be used to guide healthy choices. The goal of Tiger CGM is to deliver self-assurance and security to those who need to manage their glucose levels.

Says Zach of his experience with the program, “The Saunders Summer Startup Program quickly taught me intangible skills that compliment both my academic and entrepreneurial careers. The coaches provided my team the constructive criticism and support we needed so that our company will continue to grow after graduation.”

You can read more about the Saunders Summer Startup Program, and the other student-led companies, in our recent RIT News article.

 

#myRITstory – Trevor Barrett

Graduate Program – Entrepreneurship and Innovative Ventures MS 

Each day 22 veterans in the United States succumb to suicide. It’s a staggering statistic – a figure that doesn’t receive much media attention, but which is of great significance to graduate student Trevor Barrett.

Trevor, a Marine Corps veteran and RIT staff member understands firsthand how difficult the transition from active military member to civilian life can be, and has struggled himself with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.) In 2008, after being discharged, his best friend from the Marine Corps took his own life. This loss caused Trevor to spiral downward into a deep depression that almost cost him his marriage and livelihood. With the help of his support network, Trevor overcame his demons, got his life back on track, and is now working in RIT’s Office of Graduate Enrollment Services as the Assistant Director of Veteran Affairs. Trevor is passionate about continuing education and recently began RIT’s MS program in Entrepreneurship and Innovative Ventures. Now, he’s preparing to pitch his business idea at the RIT Sanders College of Business Summer Startup Demo Night on Wednesday, August 8th.

OpSiix Project 

Graduate and Undergraduate students at RIT have access to a wealth of campus resources that help budding entrepreneurs turn their dreams into reality. These resources include RIT’s Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and RIT’s “Tiger Tank” competition. Both provide students the skills, education, and experience necessary to realize their entrepreneurial goals, taking an idea from the beginning stages all the way to commercialization. These tools have provided Trevor the opportunity to develop his own idea and business plan.

Alongside his business partner Brandon Sheppard (an Industrial Design BFA student,) Trevor co-founded OpSiix, a mobile app that serves as a virtual community for veterans around the country and a direct communication to the Veteran Crisis Line and other resources. Their team has grown to a group of 8 students, many of whom Trevor met in his Applied Entrepreneurship class, where he also met his coach, Dana Wolcott. Under Dana’s guidance the team created a working business model and have learned much more about beginning a business.

Says Trevor about his experience thus far – “Since starting this graduate project I have learned so much that has already helped me with my career. I have learned things like the value of customer discovery, market research, managing personnel, motivating teammates and much, much more. Additionally, from researching the veteran demographic I have become more knowledgeable and better equipped for my role here at RIT as the veteran service representative. I have truly enjoyed ever second that I have spent working on OpSiix!”

In addition to mentors on campus and valuable coursework, Trevor and his team have a maker space on campus that gives the team a physical space to work and also provides access to 3D printers, tools, and materials. They also participated in the annual Imagine RIT festival where they were able to share their idea with thousands of RIT and Rochester community stakeholders. Trevor is thankful for the knowledge RIT has provided him – “We have access to a huge knowledge set. If one of our coaches doesn’t have an answer that we’re seeking they either know where to find the answer or know who to ask. We also have access to grants, and crowd funding resources that RIT facilitates. Truly, without RIT OpSiix wouldn’t exist.”

You can watch Trevor and his team present their business plan this Wednesday at the Saunders Summer Startup Night at 5:30 p.m.

OpSiix Video

Register for the Summer Startup Demo Night 

Life as a Summer Intern in NYC

What is it like to live in New York City? What is it like to work in midtown and downtown Manhattan? Living this kind of life seemed out of reach to me before, however, it’s hard to believe that I have been doing it for 2 months now.

This summer, I got an amazing co-op/interning opportunity to work as a multimedia designer with a global media agency network, Mindshare. As an international student, the internship was my first full-time internship working in the U.S., and I found out that I was the only international intern among about 40 interns that my company hired this summer.

During the internship, the company created a competition called “Battle of Interns” for all the interns to work closely with their fellows to develop a media plan which involves Media Planning, Digital Investment and Marketing Science. I personally think this is a great learning opportunity, especially for people who are new to the Media Planning & Buying World. My major responsibility in the company is to assist the Mindshare Creative Director on various projects supporting the Mindshare business, including Video and Audio editing, building styled templates and other visual design projects.

The most challenging part of this experience, for me, is the work-life balance. Life in New York City can certainly get super exciting: museums, concerts, amazing places to eat and drink, famous attractions, and the list goes on. Every morning I take a subway (often crowded) for about 20-30 minutes to get to my company, work for 9 hours including a one-hour lunch break, and then do the same thing again in the evening. I sometimes get pretty tired of dealing with crowded platforms and trains, and thousands of tourists and passersby, especially as my company was located close to Time Square (then we moved to 3WTC in downtown). So during the weekends, it’s important to find a balance, to help myself fully rest up, but also not to miss out the fun stuff going on in the city. It’s definitely hard, but I am trying my best.

One of the most important takeaways that I got from the internship is: there are so many different things and skills to learn in an internship setting compared to working in an academic setting. When in school, I mostly work with myself, classmates and professors, and everything is based on an academic setting. We do learn

a lot in school, but I don’t know if my projects are going to perform well in the market and the industry. However, during an internship, I got to experience organizational and professional cultures that are very new to me. I have direct contact with people who do different works, and I also get frequent feedbacks from my workplace supervisor about my performance which reflects how the projects actually work and support the company’s business. It feels really good to see how users react to your design projects in the real world, instead of just getting feedbacks without testing out the performance and usability.

Another key takeaway is that: always be yourself, and always learn from the individuals you meet in the office. I was really lucky to be surrounded by super nice team members and managers. My supervisor and I have similar backgrounds, and we constantly talk about our design concepts and thoughts on certain design projects. I also appreciate that my supervisor trusts me as an independent individual and offers me a lot of room for flexibility and creativity. I am so glad that I am not only gaining valuable applied experience, but also making connections in professional fields, which will guide me and impact my future career path.

Finally, I am very thankful for this summer internship opportunity. I was lucky to sit next to a super nice team, which mentors and managers who taught me a lot at work. I got valuable feedbacks which I would never get in an academic setting. And I am also glad that I got to do this internship in New York City, one of the greatest cities in the world. Although living in the city on an intern’s budget is a bit challenging, it at least gives you an idea of how it feels like to live and work in NYC and also expand your life experiences! Whatever the future may bring, I would look back on my time here and appreciate the skills and knowledge I gained.

#myRITstory – Nathan DeMario

Program: Mechanical Engineering ME, second year

Gleason College of Engineering student, Nathan DeMario, balances his time in the classroom working on his Mechanical Engineering degree with building his own company, Phase Innovations, LLC. As a participant in the Saunders College of Business and Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Summer Startup Program, Nathan has been hard at work these past few months, building a plan to make his dreams a reality. The Summer Startup Program offers undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to work on early stage business plans, with the goal of launching plans and seeking investments – all while getting paid.

About Phase Innovations, LLC – “Phase Innovations LLC provides novel stack-based technologies for energy conversion and storage applications. With over 40 patents in this field, we are leveraging our expertise in developing these systems to accelerate clean technology.

Phase Innovations LLC is developing two different technologies, the Membrane Heat Pump and a device named PureAtmos. The Membrane Heat Pump is a novel technology that is a thermally activated, scalable, refrigerant free, combined cooling and de-humidification technology. The PureAtmos unit is a device that provides homeowners with a solution to update their homes ventilation capabilities without requiring large and costly home renovations. This also would enable these homes to meet the current ASHREA regulation (ASHREA 62.1 and 62.2) in which there are currently few inexpensive options available to enable out of date homes to meet these requirements at a reasonable cost.” 

Nathan will present his business plan at the Saunders Summer Startup – Demo Night on August 8th. You can reserve your ticket and learn more on the event’s website.

Between the Hours: Dealing with graduate school

by Abhisek Dey, Computer Engineering MS student

Whether you are contemplating grad school, about to begin a new program, or already there, this post is for you. It is about the place where one discovers his true self through an exhausting journey of successes and failures which often brings many to their tipping points. But, in the words of Nelson Mandela, “A winner is a dreamer who never gives up”.

Deciding to pursue a graduate education is an important step as we have to ask ourselves many questions – is it really the best way forward for me, am I ready to spend the next 2 years or more working on really specific problems? Does the research track enthuse me to work tirelessly on it? Is the advisor I am looking to work under a good fit? Even after we plan ahead, enter grad school and take the beast head on, it does become overwhelming and impossible sometimes to break off the vicious circle. During these times, it is important to remember subtle things like staying focused and time management which prove as invaluable tools to tame the beast.

Just one of those days…

The worst enemy of any grad student is procrastination. Time and again, we find ourselves in a position where we have to complete our thesis proposal, devote hours for teaching assistant duties, complete assignments and projects for the courses, and work on publishing a paper for a research conference all together. Though sometimes, it is not entirely a student’s lackluster work ethic, most times it invariably is. We love to live under a delusion that our responsibilities are trivial and can be done in no time. Closer to our deadlines, we come to terms with reality and make our lives a mess. Eating at regular intervals, maintaining personal hygiene and completing daily chores go out the window!

Appreciating baby steps is a proven motivator!

Having said that, a grad life is rigorous and challenging. Managing a healthy work-life balance becomes increasingly complicated, more so for PhD’s. Discovering a favorite past-time or hobby becomes more essential than ever, just to blow off some steam. Be it watching Netflix or playing a random instrument – trust me, you would need  it. Also, never hesitate to ask for help/advice when you need some. You have to always find solace and encouragement from the fact that many around you have endured the same phase that you are going through. At least at RIT, help is always one email away!

 

#myRITstory – Ishan Guliani

Program: Computer Science MS, incoming Fall 2018

From: New Delhi, India

“I always feel that it is important for individuals to specialize in the discipline that drives their curiosity. It not only satiates one’s hunger for a deeper understanding of the subject, but also qualifies a person as a reliable resource for that particular field of work.” – Ishan

Having amassed a wealth of experience in the tech startup scene back home, it was time for Ishan to explore further and delve deeper into what he loved doing – using technology to improve the lives of everyday people. Ishan passed on lucrative job offers from multinational companies to spend 4 years as an entrepreneur. During that time he played a significant role in building up several startups from ground zero.

Ishan knew he’d be able to advance to a central role in technology entrepreneurship if he could expand his technical knowledge. He ultimately had two options before him – an M.Tech from India or an MS from the US. After spending time with his mentors and asking for advice from seniors from his undergraduate days, choosing to go for an MS and get valuable international experience abroad was the obvious choice.

After an extensive search process Ishan chose RIT’s Computer Science program. Says Ishan, “the primary factor for me in choosing RIT was my specialization itself. Coming from a startup background where I’ve seen apps scale rampantly and crash servers overnight, I have been fascinated with highly scalable and distributed systems. This is one of the fields I want to specialize in and RIT’s research and course work in this area is extremely promising and challenging.”

Other factors in his decision to attend RIT included the promptness and openness of both faculty and admission counselors. Ishan had a series of email conversations with professors from the CS department during the application process itself. He also had numerous phone and email interactions with the graduate enrollment office to assist anytime he hit a hurdle. Of course, the scholarship Ishan received as a part of his acceptance package also went a long way in cementing his decision.

Ishan is a people person and loves spending quality time with people who matter to him. At RIT, Ishan hopes to take things one day at a time, breathing in the new experiences and savoring them. Ishan wants to meet new people, get new ideas and learn as much as he can during his time in the US.

Ishan, we look forward to welcoming you to campus!

The Week Before Classes Starts

by Ami Patel, Imaging Science MS student

I know it’s such an overwhelming time, the beginning. You have reached RIT, but what exactly are you supposed to do now? Let’s go through various things you need to do before classes start:

Offices:
1. Getting your RIT ID card: You should visit the Office of Registrar, located in the George Eastman Building to obtain your ID card.

2. Transcripts and/or Degree Certificate: You will need to visit the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services, located in Bausch & Lomb Center to get your Transcript and Degree Certificate scanned for the official records.

3. Student Employment Card: In case you have signed the employment papers with any department on-campus, you need to visit the Student Employment Office, located in University Services Center to obtain your Student Employment Card.

4. Getting your i20 signed: If you are an international student, you have to visit the International Student Services, located in the Student Alumni Union Building to get your i20 signed by one of the officers.

Orientation:
1. Graduate Student Orientation: This orientation event provides information on how to smoothly transition into the grad life here at RIT. The registration link will be emailed to you soon.

2. New Student Orientation: There will be a lot of activities and information sessions about your resources and getting used to the RIT spirit.

3. International Student Orientation: If you are an International student, there will be an entire day of events with a mix of important sessions, social events and maybe a party to meet new fellow students and make some new friends. You will need to register for this.

Traditions/Fun stuff:
Okay, let’s not forget some post arrival traditions at RIT.

1. Take a walk on the Quarter Mile: The Quarter Mile at RIT is a 0.41-mile long walkway that stretches between the dorms and the academic side of the campus. Almost all the important buildings would be on this walkway, so it’s a great way to explore the campus.

2. Photograph with RITchie: If you are still unaware, RITchie The Tiger is RIT’s mascot. There’s a Tiger statue right in front of Eastman Kodak Quad on the Quarter Mile. It’s one of the most popular photograph spots on the campus.

3. Ice cream on Friday at Ben & Jerry’s: Yes, we have a Ben & Jerry’s on-campus. If you receive any email regarding 50% discount, don’t miss out on the opportunity.

4. Join at least one club: One of the fun events to attend during the Orientation week is the RIT Clubs Resource Fair. All the 200 club representatives will be there to provide you information and how to get involved with them. It’s a nice way to immerse yourself in the community.

In case you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me. Thanks.

#myRITstory – Harshitha Nanjundappa

Program: Electrical Engineering MS, graduated May 2018

From: Bangalore, India 

Currently: Platform Power Delivery Engineer, Intel, Hillsboro, Oregon 

From part-time employment on campus to a co-op in her field that eventually led to a full-time job offer, Harshitha made the most of her experience at RIT. After arriving on campus her first semester Harshitha found a job at RIT’s Brick City Café, where she was employed for two semesters. She remembers the job fondly, saying “it was an amazing experience. I met a lot of new people and got to learn a bit or two about how a cafeteria works. I don’t think I would ever got this opportunity if I hadn’t taken this job.”

Harshitha then took advantage of RIT’s Career Fair and hands-on research and working opportunities, and was offered a co-op position at Intel. Before she completed the co-op placement Harshitha had already demonstrated her skillset and earned a full-time job offer to continue at Intel after graduation. She returned to RIT’s campus to finish her last semester of the MS program in January 2018. After graduating last May Harshitha moved across the States to Oregon, where she is currently working full-time as a Platform Power Delivery Engineer.

“I got all my skills in use during my work at Intel, since this was my first ever job in an industry it was very overwhelming for me. I gave my best at every task given and got some practical hands-on experience.”

Overall, Harshitha thoroughly enjoyed her time at RIT – both in and outside of the classroom – “It was quite tough coming to a different country and starting a new adventure, but friends who came with me made it very easy and comfortable. Rochester was an amazing chapter in my life. Thank you RIT for giving so many memories!”

RIT: Transcending boundaries and making great minds meet

by Abhisek Dey, Computer Engineering MS student

Ever wondered what kinds of engineering goes into making of a run-of-the-mill cellphone? Well, there is no definite answer. In fact, in the deeply interconnected world that we live in, every engineering marvel that is seemingly so obvious is the result of people from various parts of the spectrum coming together, sharing ideas and putting all the pieces where they belong. RIT recognizes this and has been trying to instill the same spirit in research as well as in the coursework that students take.

Being a graduate student in the Computer Engineering department, I can vouch for the broad base of courses that I am allowed to take as a part of my degree. I have already decided to take a course from the Electrical Engineering department and hopefully another from the Computing Security department. Taking relevant courses from outside our department not only broadens our knowledge base but also brings about an interdisciplinary area of expertise which both the research community and the industry requires.

Much like this bridge which connects the College of Computing (left) with the College of Engineering (right), RIT students go beyond disciplines to innovate and collaborate!

RIT also encourages you to mix with faculty and student researchers from other disciplines. It is not mandatory for you to pick a graduate advisor from your department. I have personally known many graduate students to align with an advisor outside their department because they either had common research interests or some relevant background which made him a good fit. For instance, a friend of mine from Computer Engineering chose a Professor from Computing Security to be his advisor because he was looking for security as his focus area and his communications background made him a good fit for the Professor who was working on wireless security for IOT devices and vehicular communications.

This approach has been very well-admired by companies that come to hire RIT students during the career fair. Companies across the board, from Amazon and Google to Microsoft, as well as numerous local industries based in the Rochester area are impressed by the talent and preparation of RIT students. Our graduates are well-prepared to hit the ground running. Alumni return to their alma mater and further encourage students to participate in cross-disciplinary projects and research collaborations.

The greatest piece of advice from myself to other students considering RIT is to never be afraid to ask questions – to others and to yourself. It is going to be your greatest asset and a tool not only in your time as a graduate student trying to explore a research problem but also in the later stages of your career!

 

 

On-campus vs Off-campus Housing at RIT

by Ami Patel, Computer Science MS student

This is an important debate for new students and especially those who aren’t from the Rochester area. There are so many factors and facilities that play a role while finalizing the housing. As someone who has lived both on and off campus here, I feel my perspective can help you out a little. So here are key factors and comparisons of how the options defer.

First thing, what do I describe as on-campus? Any housing communities owned by RIT, whether on campus (Riverknoll, Colony Manor, Perkins Green, Greek Housing, Residence Halls) or situated few miles away from RIT (there are two in this case which is The Racquet Club and RIT Inn). Also, there are two other privately owned communities on the RIT campus. The rest of the housing options I mention in this blog are off-campus accommodations.

Now that we have outlined the terminology, let’s jump to different factors. It always starts with the cost. Rent for the on-campus resident halls and apartments range from $500-$1000/month per person. You can check the rates for individual options here. It’s difficult to draw a line for off-campus options, but I will say you will generally find this between $300-$700/month per person.

Next thing that follows is the privacy – shared or private bedroom. You will find both options at both the places but off-campus tends to be cheaper for both the options. You will also need to consider the cost of transportation. For some cases, with transportation costs, it might cost same as on-campus.

So that brings us to the commute factor. All the on-campus options have access to the RIT Shuttle services, which run from 7ish am till 1:30ish am. Some of the off-campus options are connected to RIT through the city bus transport or by their own private bus to RIT. If you have our own car, off-campus options get much better. Public city bus transport costs $1 for each trip regardless of the distance.

Furnished vs unfurnished – Of course, furnished ones will be on the pricer side. It will be cheaper to furnish on your own than paying that extra money every month for a furnished option. If it’s off-campus, unfurnished is more idea and cheaper.

Well, the last one is quite abstract – amenities. If you are living on-campus all the RIT resources are accessible all the time. Off-campus apartment communities will have some kind of amenities, but, if it’s a private house, there won’t be any. For more resources, you will have to come to the campus.

From my experiences, I feel off-campus is cheaper and a good option if you have your own car or if you are okay with the commute time. On-campus is more convenient for people who prefer better & quicker access to the campus, not plan on having a car or aren’t used to the type of weather Rochester has.

Also, I would like to add how to go house hunting. For on-campus options, you can check here. For off-campus options, it will be best to join RIT Housing group on Facebook. Once you have shortlisted options based on your preferences, you can proceed with the application. In some cases, you will need to find your own roommates, which, you can find on the Facebook group mentioned here. The best time to finalize housing is June & July for Fall semester and November-December for Spring semester.

Thank you for reading through this and I hope this article provided a better outlook on the dilemma. You can leave a message here if you have more questions.