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.)

#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 

#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.

#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!”

#myRITstory – Syed Sajjad Haider

Program: Electrical Engineering MS, expected graduation fall 2019

From: Islamabad, Pakistan

Syed learned about RIT through his local EducationUSA Advising Center, where he was researching prospective graduate programs in robotics and artificial intelligence. His search for the perfect program and research opportunities led him to RIT’s Engineering and Computing programs. He ultimately chose RIT because of its strong emphasis on Co-Operative Education. (You can read more about RIT’s Co-op program online.)

In July Syed will begin a six month co-op placement at Abiomed in Boston, Massachusetts. He was hired as Lifecycle Electrical Engineer and will work on the design and analysis of testing automation for various Abiomed consumer products.

Says Syed about his search for a co-op position – “I found a Co-Op in Boston, MA through the Handshake platform RIT just introduced. All students in RIT are strongly encouraged to attend the two career fairs organized by RIT each year and to apply for various opportunities on the handshake platform. The Office of Career Services at RIT is very helpful and useful. I got my Resume reviewed from them and also participated in a mock interview event. These small things really help you prepare for the real interview.”

Syed will return to RIT in January 2019 to complete his MS program. In addition to his coursework and extracurricular activities, Syed has also worked part-time for RIT Dining and for RIT’s Reporter Magazine as a staff photographer.

 

 

#myRITstory – Venkatesh Thimma Dhinakaran

Venkatesh, visiting the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA.

Program: Software Engineering MS, expected graduation May 2019

From: Chennai, India

Venkatesh is a Graduate Assistant in his department, Software Engineering, where he works under Dr. Pradeep Kumar Murukannaiah. In this position he has conducted research and published a paper entitled “App Review Analysis via Avtive Learning, reducing the supervision effort without compromising the accuracy.”  The paper has been accepted into the 2018 IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference and the pair will present their findings in August at the event in Banff, Canada.

Says Venkatesh about his work:

“I am doing a thesis under this professor. My work involves machine learning techniques such as supervised learning, unsupervised learning, and implementing these strategies using Python programming language as required for the research conducted. This job gives my hourly pay as well as 55% scholarship for tuition. I work 10 hours per week in this job.”

At RIT Venkatesh also works a part-time job in the Brick City Cafe and lives lives off-campus (first at Crittenden Way Apartments and currently in Riverknoll Apartments.) When asked about his RIT experience, Venkatesh said, “RIT is a very research oriented institution, be prepared to learn a lot. The campus is huge and beautiful. Everyone can easily find something that they like to do on campus apart from studies too, since there are that many clubs and events going on all the time.”

Before Venkatesh arrived on campus he made friends and found roommates through social media channels. (Admitted to an RIT program for Fall 2018? Join our Admitted Student Facebook Page and WhatsApp group to connect!)

RIT’s Financial Wellness Conference

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

RIT Student Affairs and Student Government have offered a Financial Wellness Conference on April 8th as part of National Financial Literacy Month which has seen participation from a lot of students at RIT. The conference was held to raise awareness about the importance of financial literacy which is one of the most important topic as believed by several millennials. The conference had an interesting concept of holding several sessions which are a 50 min long and students get to choose 3 sessions between 2-5pm. The conference kicked off with a keynote address by retired U.S. Bankruptcy Judge, John C. Ninfo who shared his thoughts on financial IQ. I choose the three sessions “Track the Flow of Your Money”, “Health Care Benefits 101”, and “Planning for Retirement”. In the first session “Track the Flow of Your Money” we got introduced to how to manage a budget and then also the allocations that need to be made in order to maximize the value of your paycheck. Later, I got to attend the session “Health Care Benefits 101” where the speaker talked about the various health

care options that companies offer to the employees and suggestions for comparing the options and choosing the best one. This session has particularly helpful as I am joining a company soon full time and I need to choose a healthcare plan. Finally, I attended the session “Planning for Retirement” which was about different instruments to save your money in order to plan for your retirement. The speaker spoke about stocks, mutual fund, bonds and several other instruments. In conclusion this was a great conference and is very helpful to students both undergraduate and graduate which will hopefully be conducted for years to come.

An Electrical Engineering MS Student on Co-Op

by Mudit Pasagadagula, Electrical Engineering MS student

(Mudit is currently on co-op at ANSYS, Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA as a Research and Development Intern. In his role, Mudit is responsible for developing independent projects and designing benchmark projects for rigorous testing of electromagnetic solvers developed by the HFSS-Solver development team. He is also responsible for simulating the designed projects, organizing the results, and analyzing them to make sure they agrees with theoretical/measurement expected results, and for finding defects and verifying fixed defects in Ansys Electromagnetic Desktop software.)

Being an international student in the US is rewarding. However, getting an opportunity to experience working as a full-time employee for an external company, as a part of your coursework, is the cherry on top.

Choosing Rochester Institute of Technology as my graduate school was a well calculated decision, based upon a combination of my capabilities alongside a vision of what I wanted to learn and how much of that RIT could offer. All I was concerned about was what I was going to study. What I got was more than “what I wanted,” and in ways I could have never imagined. Cooperative Education is one of the best way to learn what you exactly want to work with and I am glad I choose one of the best Co-Op schools in the country.

It’s not just the theoretical and practical knowledge I gathered from my classroom lectures and project works that helped me prepare for my co-op interview with ANSYS, Inc, which I applied online for. It was also the overall learning experience I gathered from the places I worked on campus, the useful informal conversations I had with the professors I worked with and the hard working student community which always keeps me motivated when I am at school.

Getting to experience a professional and technical work environment in a company listed in FORTUNE 100 Fastest-Growing Companies, with a global footprint. ANSYS, Inc. has operations in 40 countries, which is a big learning opportunity for me. I am thankful to RIT’s Cooperative Education program for making this possible for every student who is curious enough to explore and learn.

Winter is Here

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

I look out of the window in the morning and my car is covered with snow. I am very annoyed and curse Rochester weather for making my life difficult. My mind quickly starts thinking about writing how to survive in this weather and well long story short I started writing this piece. I wanted to title it “Winter is Coming” but then realized it made no sense because winter has been around for a couple of months already. Now let me think about some ways to survive the Rochester Snow:

1) Snow Boots and Jacket: It gets very slippery when the snow melts and turns to ice so make sure you have a good pair of snow boots. Also, get a jacket that has fur lining on the hoodie because it keeps the snow falling all over your face.

2) Exercise: The cold weather is going to make you lazy and sleepy all the time so make sure you exercise in the winter to avoid those extra pounds and be more energetic.

3) Dry Skin: Your skin and eyes will be extra dry during the snow season. First and foremost cover yourself, get a good moisturizer and a humidifier for the home.

4) Emergency Kit: Snowstorms are not very common but I would still ask people to keep an emergency kit which has things like a battery pack, flashlight, snacks, etc.

5) Stay Healthy: Falling sick is a common thing in the snow season so always make sure you have a hand sanitizer with you, get good amount of sleep and exercise.

These are some of the main things that you need to look out for but there are many other like being careful while you drive in the snow. As I wrap up the article later in the day and looking for a conclusion by wandering outside the library, I see the sunset and a little snowfall which made me realize that I have a love-hate relationship with the snow season at RIT. There are days when I am looking forward to getting out of Rochester and another day when I realize how much I love the snow. Oh before I forget, the man in the picture is President Destler who retired in 2017 and was the 9th president of RIT.