Are You Ready for Graduate School?

by Estefany Rodriguez Rodriguez, Human Resource Development MS student

Going to graduate school is a big deal and for many is a great move. It means that you want to start a new path or continue to increase vital intellectual skills to a more satisfying career. It can even increase your earning power. Grad school is a unique experience and it’s a full time job that requires you to sharpen many skills and even learn new ones.
For me, it has been a great experience, and RIT made it a better one. I have been able to learn so much more than I expected, and yes it has been a bit challenging (often), but hey! NO PAIN NO GAIN (if it applies in this context 😛 ). There are many things I wish I knew before coming to grad school, and I will share some of them with you, as well as some tips I found online.

Tip #1 
Make sure all your documents are in order before coming to campus
Can you imagine arriving to the university only to find out that your important documents are missing or incomplete? Make sure that all your student and financial aid forms are complete and on file before the semester starts. Also, remember to make an appointment with your adviser, know where the office is, and ask as many questions as you can to feel ready to start your master.

Tip #2
Research about your curriculum and professors
Familiarize yourself with your courses and professors, and if you can purchase some of the text books in advance. Also, a good advice is to plan ahead with an academic plan. Research about your curriculum and make a plan for each semester, in this way you have an idea of what are the courses you are going to take throughout your career. It is less stress when the class selection process comes.

Tip #3
Know how you work

Yes, grad school can be a lot of work and very challenging, but knowing how you work can make your life easier. I don’t know about you, but I am the queen of procrastination (not that I am proud of that but I gotta be honest). During my career here at RIT I have learned to properly schedule my agenda and try to do everything on time so I burn less neurons when stressing over late work. Also, try to understand your mind and body and have discipline once you achieve it. Find out what is the organization strategy that best fits you. In my case, I use my agenda and a white board. I write down everything that is longer term on my agenda (future homework, class activities, meetings, due dates for exams, etc.) , trust me it’s soooo helpful. Now, on my white board, I usually write what I need to do for the day and my goals for the week sometimes.
“Learn when you’re most productive and when you aren’t”

Tip #4
Focus less on grades and more on learning
WAOO! I really wish I knew this before. You know, sometimes I feel that grad life is a lot more about learning and networking than good grades. Of course you want to have good grades but you also want to make you retain the information. You are also developing relationships with individuals that will become lifetime colleagues and even friends. One of my professors once said to me to focus less on the homework, and try to go to more conferences and to network more. Take her advice guys!!

Tip # 5
Get involved! 
Think about ways to get involve outside the classroom. RIT has hundreds of clubs you can join (read more about them here,) and also sports team, and you can also join student government. This is a great way to get distracted and network and develop interpersonal skills! People are sooo nice here at RIT, and fitting in won’t be a problem.

Hope this was helpful!!
ER

It only takes a moment to change everything!

by Ketan Srivastava, RIT alum ’17, Telecommunications Engineering MS

So, let us go back a little more than 3 years from now. It was August 2013! I had a very productive discussion with my team-lead at Ericsson who was working there years before I joined Ericsson in 2010. He was hence, pretty experienced as far as work and the business trends were concerned. And I, being a new GET (graduate engineer trainee), was always interested in listening and analyzing any advice that a senior would give to me since I could always catch something to learn in what they said. I actually considered myself really fortunate in this regard that my seniors thought me as able enough to understand them and hence, always guided me through things voluntarily even when everything went smooth and I most welcomed it each time!

So, that day in August 2013, my team-lead told me that I was limiting my fascination. That the product and the software upgrade procedures that I was keen on mastering would only help me in Ericsson and nowhere else in the world. At first, I was a bit disappointed but after a lot of research, I realized that the Ericsson platform I worked on was excellent but used only by Ericsson and nowhere else at all! And I? I was early in my career and I wanted to be flexible enough as far as my competency is concerned so that I can show my work to others as well and gain appreciation at an inter-organization level and not just within the organization.

I was already troubled by it and I kept on finding things not knowing what I wanted. Some weeks later, in September 2013, I had a long discussion with an AT&T US engineer about the upcoming changes that Ericsson was planning to make in order to keep up its top position. During that, I was amazed how that engineer who was same age as mine, was literally talking technology! Yes, indeed! I felt like he wasn’t speaking English but he was actually talking technology! And moving totally away from the topic awkwardly, I asked him what he studied as I explained how fascinated I was with the kind of knowledge he had. He was humble and generous enough to tell me a few things. He also shared some docs that he asked me to go through to get a clearer picture of what he was talking about. I went through that and understood that it was exactly what I wanted to learn. The whole internet technology! One which Ericsson or AT&T or any organization in the world uses now and in the future i.e. the Internet technology!

As much as I felt incomplete then, I also had found a way to not only learn but to be able to get rewards back for my learning. I could work on multi-company platforms with the same knowledge as no matter what equipment a company used, they would ultimately use it for the same purpose and i.e. the internet! I had decided to learn the fundamentals of networking now and shift my domain from Wireless. And, on further research, I had also found my destination to have the same. None other than the United States of America where, networking technology is the ultimate backbone of the country’s economy. The universities here like RIT not only want their students to learn something new, but make sure that the technology that they learn is up to date and at par with the demands laid down by some of the internet technology giants like Cisco, Amazon Web Services, Facebook and uncountable names more. Thus, I decided that I should rather get into something 100% which I’m interested in, than just being able to manage to study something randomly after my work hours at Ericsson.

This whole process did take a lot of time and effort. In point of fact, I had stopped going anywhere on weekends too as I wanted to utilize that time I got, in researching further about studying networking from the US universities including RIT. It was then, in November 2013, when I had finalized that I wish to pursue MS. So, I am always curious and willing to learn. To add, I am also the recipient of the prestigious ‘ACE’ award by Ericsson but having worked for almost 4 years for the company, it was now time to move on in pursuit of more knowledge and those 4 months from August to November played a crucial role in my decision making for pursuing higher studies in the US.

So, this is the story, my experiences, as to what really motivated me to take this nervous step of leaving ‘everything’ behind like my job, family, friends, my girlfriend, my home, my food, that weather, those sweets, those spices, those festivals, those dresses, those dances and what not! In point of fact, it was a nervous step for me to leave that ‘FEELING’ behind! But, like my mom told me that one has to sometimes give up something close to the heart in order to gain something. And after all, they are all always there for me anyway. So, with a heart filled with sorrow, excitement, motivation, happiness, tears, a smile, and simply every emotion you can think of, I decided to move on towards my pursuit of a Masters degree here in the US.

Disclaimer: This is the first blog of my life that I wrote and, as a proud RIT TIGER!

Feeling adventurous for Spring Break?

by Estefany Rodriguez Rodriguez, Human Resource Development MS student

There’s nothing more stressful than planning a trip for spring break! I mean, come on, you have to fit a whole schedule of great adventures in one week, stay in the “student budget”, and making sure to have no homework pending for that week! But hey! It’s worthy, right??

For this Spring Break I am planning something epic – something different than Cancun or Bahamas. I think I’m already getting to an age where I don’t think about going to parties anymore; maybe I’m just weird, I’m only 24 LOL. Anyways, this time I want to explore a new country, a new culture, something that will expand my vision of the world. This time I have decided to go to Europe. But planning has been the most challenging part. And here’s why…

First of all, deciding where to go first and planning the logistics has been crazy. There are soooo many places to go in Europe and you just don’t know what to do first. And as we know, we only have one week! Boo! My boyfriend and I chose Paris to be our first destination, because is the city of love, every couple wants to go there! It’s every girls dream to take a picture kissing your love one with the Eifel Tower as a background. Yeah I Know so cliché, but tell me you wouldn’t do it?!

Here is a helpful list of the places you could visit in Europe http://travelblog.viator.com/top-25-things-to-do-europe/

Now let’s talk real facts, budget. As students we live in an eternal effort to fit things to small budgets, and Europe may not be so cheap. Flight tickets, hotel, tours, museums, etc., can be scary to think about.  But don’t let this overwhelm you.  For example, domestic flights in Europe are super affordable and if you book in advance you can find great deals from NY to Paris. Now, you might be concern about where you will spend the night, and I have two suggestions, Hostels and Airbnb. Hostels are very affordable, most of them have great locations, and you might have opportunity to meet people as adventurer as you are. And you probably already know about Airbnb. The advantage is that you can find comfy and welcoming houses that will make you feel like home, and the owners can guide you regarding public transportation, places to visit, and restaurants to eat.

Omelette du Fromage? Thank you Dexter for your language lessons! Language can be a problem too, and traveling can become very frustrating and difficult when you just don’t know how to ask for directions. But here’s a “yay” for technology. You can use your phone to try to translate anything you want to say or ask. Also, a lot of people know at least the basics of English so you won’t be so lost.

There’s sooo much more about traveling to Europe, or any other country. So many pros and cons, but it’s so worthy to travel and feed our adventurous spirit, and let this experiences open our minds. So go out there and enjoy your spring break! I will show you some pictures when I come back. J

Artificial Intelligence at RIT

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

Artificial Intelligence today is what the dot-com boom was a few years ago. We hear the term everywhere and there has been an explosion of advancements in the field. Although people use the word loosely, Artificial Intelligence as we know it is comprised of various topics like machine learning, natural language processing, robotics and many others. These tend to fall under the broader term cognitive technologies. From driverless cars to Alpha Go, the world has seen advancements which have only been a part of science fiction movies. As a kid I loved science fiction, be it the Jetsons who lived in the future with holograms and advanced robots or Marty’s cool hover board from the Back to the Future. I always wanted to live in a future with such great advancements and today being part of an event at ROT discussing about the possibilities of such a future was very exciting.

Coming to the AI retreat that took place on February 17, 2017 at RIT was one of the most interesting days I had after coming to RIT, it was a daylong retreat which explored the advancements in artificial intelligence with a focus on RIT’s role. Speakers from various companies and institutions spoke about the work that is being done in the industry. One of the most captivating sessions, in which I was deeply immersed, was the topic “AI 2.0: brains for bots” by Mr. Max Versace, founder of the Boston University Neuromorphics Lab and the Co-Founder and CEO of Neurala Inc His company is a pioneer in deep learning neural network software that could be deployed on ordinary processors with low cost sensors. Apart from Mr. Versace I also had the pleasure of listening to Mr.Robert H. Bo Ewald, President of D-Wave International, who talked about quantum computing and the big names in industry that have been investing and relying on quantum computing. The presentation reviewed some of the thinking, fundamentals and activities behind quantum computing, starting with the ideas originally introduced by Richard Feynman in 1982. Later we had a presentation by Roman Yampolskiy who talked about the Future of AI and also discussed Artificial General Intelligence and its effects on humanity. It was a very thought-provoking presentation which was thoroughly enjoyed by both students and faculty.

Post lunch we had discussion groups with topics like “Impact of AI on Education, Ethics, and Law, Vision and Language and Cognitive Science and Bio-inspired Computing.” I personally had participated in the Vision and Language discussion group that discussed the ongoing work in the industry related to the topic and  brainstormed ways that RIT could start their own research in a related field, potentially making a real difference in the world. Because RIT is one of the largest technological colleges in the world for students who are deaf or hard of hearing inspired the group to discuss the potential that Vision and Language has to help them in many ways. There were discussions about Automatic Captioning, which would be of great benefit, and also other such great ideas which really made me feel proud that the Tigers at RIT, with the help of their faculty, are indeed trying to make a difference and work towards advancements in the field. The day ended with a note from Jeremy Haefner, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Rochester Institute of Technology, who promised that he would see to it RIT as an institution would support the research that the students and faculty will be working on from this day forward. It was a very special moment for me knowing how supportive the college is towards students and its faculty and then I realized I made the best decision by coming to RIT for my Masters.

Before I end this post I would like to repost some reflections that the Provost has communicated to the entire RIT community about this retreat –

The working title for this retreat is ‘Move 78’. This bears an explanation. Back in March of this year, there was a historic matchup between the Google computer system named ‘AlphaGo’ and Lee Sedol, one of the world’s best Go players. (The game of Go is considered to be one of most cognitively challenging strategy games because of the vast number of possible moves; for example, there are 20 possible opening moves in a game of chess and 361 in a game of Go.) And in a 5 game series, AlphaGo defeated Sedol in 4 of them, thereby sending shockwaves through the Go and cognitive computing communities.

What is truly fascinating, however, are two ‘moves’ from the series. In Move 37 of Game Two, AlphaGo astounded Sedol with a play that experts never saw before let alone anticipated. Sedol took an unheard-of 20 minutes to respond. At that point, it looked grim for Team Human. But in Game Four, Sedol, wanting redemption, knew that he needed more than just the expertise he had developed in playing Go all his life and so dipped deeper into his creative well. His play, in Move 78, did just that. It astonished not only the Go world but AlphaGo itself. This move has become known as ‘God’s Touch’ and Sedol went on to win Game Four.

This story inspires me. As I think about the vast implications for the seemingly unlimited potential of cognitive computing, I could imagine a very bleak future. But I prefer not to. Rather I have tremendous faith in the creative and imaginative power of the human mind. To quote Wired Magazine,

“[Move 78] showed that although machines are now capable of moments of genius, humans have hardly lost the ability to generate their own transcendent moments. And it seems that in the years to come, as we humans work with these machines, our genius will only grow in tandem with our creations.”

The future isn’t scary; it’s exciting.