The move to RIT – a rough experience, but ready to go!

This is Sushi, one of the three cats that made the move with us!

by Imran Mahmood, MBA student

When I knew I would have to move to Rochester with three cats and a 2 week old newborn son, I figured it would be crazy, but I had no idea how crazy.

It all began on a sunny day in June. My wife and I were gearing up to depart Binghamton to move to Rochester so I could start my MBA program. Our son was only two weeks old, my wife had just had surgery, and the cats were not looking forward to the car ride. Then, came the movers. Right off the bat, they had forgotten the hand truck. I immediately wondered to myself, “how could you forget a hand truck when you are a moving company?” But instead of getting upset I wrote it off as a simple human error. I have about forgotten things plenty of times, I was in no position to judge. However, that was just the beginning of what was going to be a long day. The movers started hurling our furniture and boxes onto blankets and dragged them across the lawn. They complained about the heat. And then they started smoking on the job! It was unbelievable. All we wanted to do was get out of there! Finally, after hours and hours, they had the truck fully packed and ready to go. We left in advance of them, but they promised they would follow shortly after. As we arrived at  our new apartment in Rochester, we waited for the truck with all of our belongings to arrive. Hours passed, and we didn’t understand how they were so far behind us. They didn’t end up meeting us until almost four hours later, even though the drive should have taken two and a half.

By the time they started to unload the furniture, tensions were already high. As they brought boxes up the stairs one by one, we inspected them nervously for damages. And then, we saw what could only be described as a nightmare: our microwave was shattered. Broken. Completely in non-working condition. Have you ever moved before? Do you know how crucial that microwave is on your first night, when you just moved in and you can’t take out your pots and pans to make dinner, and you just want to heat up some popcorn and pizza in peace? On a less important note, they broke the bookcase too, but that would come into play later. At that moment, all we could think about was hunger. We started frantically googling places in the area. Not many places were open to accepting our frantic and hunger-induced phone call at 9:30pm, but we finally settled on one that was open.

Thankfully, this story did have a happy ending and it was all thanks to some delicious Lebanese food.

 

Cultural differences between the United States and other countries (Did you know that…?)

by Anthony Gutierrez, Mechanical Engineering ME student

Are you ready to be amazed and laugh at the same time? Some of these cultural differences I’ve found myself after moving to the United States and others I just Googled. 🙂

  • Did you know that in most of the countries in Latin America, people throw the toilet paper in a trash can and not in the toilet? This is because most of the governments say that the toilet paper could clog the pipes (Funny story, my first roommate was American and he freaked out when he saw me doing it hahaha.)
  • Did you know that in the United States apart from saying hi, it’s very common for people to ask you “how are you? Or, “how is your day?”, even though they don’t know you? I know what you are thinking “isn’t that polite?” and the answer is: yes it is! So don’t feel uncomfortable and don’t be afraid of asking “how is their day?” too, you might end up making a new friend.
  • Did you know that Americans usually consider that the week starts on Sunday and ends on Saturday, while in Europe and Latin America it always starts on Monday and finishes on Sunday?
  • Did you know that when you have to give a date in the United States, people always put the month first and then the day? Just so you have an idea, virtually every other country in the world puts “day-month-year” instead of “month-day-year”
  • Did you know that in the United States you would be expected to show up to a meeting, work, date, event, party, or to class at the agreed-upon time? In contrast, in cultures that have more relaxed expectations about promptness, such as most of Latin America, people and public transportation are more likely to be running late and it doesn’t look bad.
  • In the United States and other European countries, using direct eye contact is accepted and considered to be a sign of attentiveness, honesty, confidence, and respect for what the other is saying. In some Latin-American, Asian, and African cultures, the opposite is true. Direct eye contact might be considered aggressive. In these cultures, avoiding direct eye contact is a sign of respect, especially to elders or authority figures (You got me! I Googled this one hahaha.)

For those who haven’t experienced winter before (like me!):

  • Did you know that during winter, the highway department will spread salt (usually black) on the road to melt the ice? So don’t be afraid if you see a big truck throwing some weird black “sand” in the front of your house (I’m speaking from experience.)
  • Did you know that during winter, the air gets so dry that it’s really hard for electrons to move and your body starts to build more static and creates a shock when you touch anything? So don’t get scared and think that there is something wrong with your body (again, I’m speaking from experience hahaha.)

Five Reasons Why: US Education

by Abhisek Dey, Computer Engineering MS student

If you are expecting this blog to be another clichéd post raving about how advanced, revolutionary, and state-of-the-art higher education in the US is – it is not. It is meant to be a dissection of my experiences outside the classroom for the better part of a year that has led me to morph into a better person. Most international students come here for a world-class education and some want to stay back for the proverbial cherry-picked life and the fat paychecks. I came here for the same reasons too but if I do decide to stay here, it would be for the great people around me, diversity in ideas, freedom to express myself in every way and the opportunity to make a noteworthy difference in the lives of everyday people. Now, let’s dive in.

Decisiveness – In my opinion, the most important quality that I could acquire. It taught me to always be open to a new train of thought and never be afraid to try new things. We are only limited by our fears and tactless indecision. Try out a new sport – something you have never seen before. Try out an exotic cuisine. If you like it, try to make it yourself. See how far you can push yourself.

Break those walls – Appreciating everyone for who they are and acknowledging that there is always a bigger picture to everything. If you really want to be a well-rounded person, understanding why some people or somethings work differently than you are accustomed to would be the first step. Never be afraid to initiate a conversation with someone totally different from you. You might find you have so many things to talk about over a nice cold beer! The only thing worse than failure is never trying.

Respect and equality – Treat others the way you want to be treated. Everyday out here reinforces this idea in me. You will never be singled out for what you decide to wear, eat, talk about or who you love. Race, age, occupation, sexual orientation, special challenges are a way to divide us rather than bring us together. I have had the privilege to meet and interact with deaf and blind students at RIT and they are without a doubt some of the toughest nuts I have ever seen and a great company.

Circle of life – We are merely travelers passing through this realm and this world is what we make out of it. I always try to stand out, take on new roles and do not shy away from challenges. The fact that I’m an engineering grad student and penning this piece is enough to prove it! Being a go-getter is much more rewarding than it seems and this place has instilled the belief in me.

Humility – Ever wondered what the creator of a facial detection algorithm in our phone cameras is like in real life? Just like any of us – loves listening to 80’s music, enjoys Chinese food and owns a 2014 Honda Civic. Being humble is truly a virtue that does not take a lot of effort to master. It makes people instantly like us and this kind of also stems from the fact that everyone here is deemed to be on the same pedestal.

If you have made it this far, I am grateful and hope you could relate to some of your own experiences reading it. If not, there’s no better time to start a new journey! Visit an art museum, learn rock climbing, dive into a crazy research problem. Knock yourself out. Make some headway in the circle of life. We miss a 100% of the shots we don’t take!

 

#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.