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.

It’s the Year of the Dog!

by Kexin ‘Coco’ Wang, Visual Communications Design MFA student

Last Friday marked the beginning of the celebrations for the Chinese New Year (aka Chinese Spring Festival), and it lasted through this Sunday, Feb 18th, at RIT. RIT Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) held a Chinese New Year Celebration Gala on Sunday night. The Chinese Zodiac is made up of 12 different animals and each of them gets an outing every dozen years. 2018 is a Year of the Dog.

Lunar New Year is always the most important and traditional festival of the year in Chinese culture, and we were so pleasantly surprised and glad that RIT president, David C. Munson Jr., also showed up at the event with his family and showed to support for the Chinese international students. During the event, we had performances including Chinese folk dance, rap, crosstalk and comedic skits. We were also honored to invite our well-liked admissions counselor, David Wivell, to give a welcome speech at the beginning of the Gala. Additionally, lottery drawing also drew the attention of the audience. The biggest prize that was given was an Amazon Fire Tablet.

In case you were wondering, Chinese people usually celebrate Spring Festival by having reunion dinner with family and watching Chinese Near Year Gala on TV. In general, people from the North prefer to make and eat dumplings on Chinese New Year’s Eve, and those from the South will eat spring rolls or sticky rice cake. This year I got to have the large banquet with all of my classmates in my program. It was a bit like a potluck, where people bring various dishes and snacks. But meanwhile, we also handmade dumplings, hotpot and other meat dishes for everyone to share. This New Year feast meant a lot to most of the kids in the program since it’s their first experience of Chinese New Year oversea.

For me, Chinese New Year is more like a celebration of friendship and Chinese culture now because it has been 8 years since I got back home for the Lunar New Year. Although I miss the feeling of having a big dinner with my family, I’m pleased that there’s always a new year atmosphere during the Lunar New Year time in the U.S., and I’m super proud of this unique experience and culture that I have. Happy New Year of the Dog everyone! 新年快乐 (Happy New Year in Chinese, pronounced Xīn Nián Kuài Lè/sheen nian kwai luh)!

 

#myRITstory – Sanjana Kapisthalam

Compiled by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS Student

Sanjana Kapisthalam is a current graduate student in the Imaging Science department and comes from the southern part of India. Throughout her tenure at RIT she has worked at Xerox Research Center, in France as a Computer Vision Research Intern, and for Amazon in Seattle as a Software Developer Engineer Intern. Sanjana also has a position lined up for summer 2018 with Fluxdata as a Machine Learning Research Engineer.

With her extensive resume it’s clear that Sanjana has interviewing basics mastered. Here, she shares her advice for other students:

Most of my interviews were completely based on two of my courses (Image processing and Computer Vision, Deep-Learning for Vision). I used to get calls from pretty much every company I applied but used to get rejects after the first round. I realized I lacked preparation and made notes from these two courses and I used to revise them before every interview. This helped me to crack the technical rounds very easily. Most interviews, I crossed the third round and then got rejected. That made me realize I wasn’t strong enough with my skills to crack the coding rounds. So I started taking online free coding lessons and solved interview questions which helped me a lot.

Upon being asked to share some of her experiences while doing her co-ops “Every internship of mine was very different. My first internship with Xerox was completely research oriented. I was reproducing the then state-of-the-art methods for which I had to read tons and tons of research papers. This not only helped me develop my thought process but improved my reading and writing skill from like scale 0 to scale 10. Apart from the work, this was in a tiny city called Grenoble in France. I got to polish my broken high school French and got to experience an international culture that could be never forgotten. My current internship with Amazon is very different from what I did before. I am a software developer here and I write code every day which is reviewed by my mentor and a senior member in my team. I have a 1:1 meet with my manager every week and this system is not only improving my coding skills drastically but also pushing me to be one step ahead and learn to work in a big company. Also, Seattle is amazingly beautiful. My next internship over the summer will be with Fluxdata in Rochester as a Machine learning Engineer. I am hoping to learn from my mistakes in the past and current internships and do even better.

When asked to give some suggestions to student who are on the job hunt, Sanjana said “Use all sorts of online portals LinkedIn, Angellist, Indeed.com. Make use of the career fair. To be very honest, this was the first time I got an offer through the fair but I never gave up. I used to see people getting calls from the fair so I kept trying until I got one.” She went on to give suggestions about preparing for interviews and said “ Apply to any company, if the posting sounds intriguing and if you think you will able to do the job. My suggestion from all my experiences will be DO NOT underestimate yourself based on the requirements of the posting. Apply, prepare based on the posting and be ready to speak if that is not your area of education. You will crack the interview if you are confident about yourself.”


Here is a breakdown from my experiences –
1) Build your resume: When I say this, it’s purely for those grad students who come here immediately after undergrad and have no industry experience. First step is to realize what sort of a job you want. It’s fine if you don’t know this. Try applying to various jobs and you will realize at some point what you want. There are on-campus jobs for every interest of a person. From Cafeteria jobs to being a research assistant, there’s everything. Use the student employment website and apply to the jobs you’re interested and those you can show on your resume. Don’t step down if you keep getting rejected. Participate in the competitions conducted at symposiums on-campus, work towards winning them. Participate in Imaging RIT. In-short, do things that will not only build your resume but also keep you occupied.


2) Apply – If you apply to 5 companies and you don’t get calls at all, it’s high-time you check your resume or get it corrected from a professional. Go to your career advisor or grad-coordinator (every department has one) and seek help. Unless you ask, nobody knows what you want. Don’t self assume things. SEEK HELP if you need it and there’s nothing wrong or to be ashamed about.


3) Interview call: Like I said, sometimes you could be interested in some jobs even if it doesn’t fall under your educational background. I would say it’s absolutely fine. Just be prepared to answer questions. If you don’t have what it takes for the job, tell the recruiter why you think you’re a good fit and why you applied. My second internship was  out of my interest. I am not a software developer by degree, I was interested, I applied and showed the ability to what it takes to be one. Just be prepared. It’s ok to be rejected multiple times. It’s just not ok to analyze yourself as to why you’re being rejected. You already succeeded if you got a call which itself means you’re worth a person for that role. So analyze your mistakes from your rejections and keep moving ahead.


4) Build-up your resilience, confidence levels and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just make sure to learn out of them. RIT is a great place guys. You ask for anything and you will get help from somewhere. Make use of the resources. If you think you’re an introvert or shy make sure to have a support system outside your family (i.e., FRIENDS). Be involved in sports, music, toastmasters or whatever you like. Realize what it is that you want by taking chances. “

 

 

Government of the people, by the people and for the people

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

It was just another snowy day at RIT and I was having a conversation with my roommate about some food that is being thrown out by dining services at the end of the day. It deeply saddened me to hear food being wasted and I wanted to do something about it. After asking around I heard about the Student Government who is a part of the governing body at RIT which makes policies and votes on them along with Staff Council and Academic Senate. Their mission reads “To represent the interests of the student body through the implementation of innovative programs, services, and initiatives that enrich student lives. We will be the primary source of advocacy for students from Rochester Institute

of Technology and we will utilize our shared governance structure to voice student opinion and concern. RIT Student Government will be the forefront of change within the university.”

I was deeply intrigued by this and felt they would be the best people to talk to about my concern and I did end up talking to them about it. It was a great interaction and that is my first interaction with Student Government. In the next few months I kept learning more and more about them and felt very passionate about the change they are bringing about at RIT. Then came the wonderful day when I saw that they were accepting applications for different elected position in the Student Government. My eyes finally fell upon the Graduate Senator position and understood that the position is of a representative for the graduate students at RIT. After an intense month of campaigning and elections I have successfully won the elections and started in my role. As I went about in the role, I understood the kind of impact that Student Government has in the university. On a weekly basis, I work with the various Graduate Directors in order to discuss the new
programs that are being proposed by the departments and also propose any changes required to the graduate student policies. Apart from that I work with the different graduate student advocacy groups to address graduate student concerns like housing, transportation, etc. Also, I work with President Munson on the University Council where we discuss and vote on various university policy changes.

The presence of Student Government in the University Council ensures representatives who will be looking out for the best interests of students on the council. The impact that my work has on the students and various other stakeholders makes me feel more responsible to the role I have been elected to at RIT. Today as I write this blog I feel proud to be a student of RIT where students are given importance in policy making and this proves that indeed the school cares about its students genuinely and takes their opinions. I see the RIT Student Government as the Government of the students, by the students and for the students and glad to be a part of it.

 

Financial Funding 101

by Ami Patel, Computer Science MS student

Let’s not lie, Graduate school can be expensive and what’s better than financial funding to a grad student? But, at times it’s confusing what all are the available options, what do those options mean and how to approach? This article is going to be your Financial Funding 101. Let’s begin:

1. Scholarship: Based on previous scholarly activities, students are awarded merit-based scholarship upon admission. The amount varies based on how much funding the department has. This is the percentage value of your tuition and you don’t need to apply explicitly for it, each applicant is automatically considered for the scholarship. It might increase after 1-2 semesters based on your academic performance.

2. Graduate Assistantship: This role involves working as a support role or conducting research work for your academic department. The compensation includes some percentage of tuition waiver along with payment for the hours you work. Check your Department Office for any vacancy.

3. Graduate Assistant with RIT Student Affairs: So, this one includes a variety of roles like the resident advisor, Greek life assistant, orientation programming assistant, health promotion and marketing, assistant to Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement and few more. Compensation varies from hourly wage to stipends along with housing and meal plan. Check here for more details: https://www.rit.edu/studentaffairs/about/GA-opportunities

4. Research Assistantship: This one is simple. You work with a professor on a research project. Usually, the compensation is in the form of hourly wage but in some cases, you might receive some percentage of tuition waiver in-addition-to or instead-of the hourly wage. For this, you need to approach professors who are conducting a research project in your area of interest.

5. Teaching Assistantship: TA is generally assisting the professor with instructional responsibilities and you get paid for the number of hours you work. For TA opportunities, you will need to approach professors teaching a course you have completed before.

6. Clerical Jobs: These are on-campus jobs which involve clerical tasks like office assistant, student assistant with different departments, library, student center and various other offices at RIT. Compensation is in form of hourly wage. To apply, you can check for opportunities on RIT’s job portal: https://rit.joinhandshake.com/

7. Technical Jobs: These includes all kind of computing jobs from lab assistant, system administrator, web development for various departments. Compensation is in form of hourly wage. To apply, you can check for opportunities on RIT’s job portal: https://rit.joinhandshake.com/

8. Dining Services: If you love food and working with it, then this is interesting with roles involving food prep, production, inventory, cashier, dining room attendant for various dining locations on-campus. Again the compensation is the hourly wage. To apply, you can check for opportunities on RIT’s job portal: https://rit.joinhandshake.com/

Note: For all of these opportunities, you will need your RIT email address.

 

A focus on fitness

by Josiah Bonifas, MBA student

School can be taxing, both physically and mentally. As our minds stress our bodies tend to stress and breakdown as well. Life becomes a constant struggle to balance good grades, proper rest, and social interaction. On top of that, many students are usually involved in some sort of part time or full-time job. As a 1st year Grad Student I have paid my dues, thus I know firsthand how busy life can get. We end up so overwhelmed by the things we need to get done that we will often neglect to take care of ourselves. I know what you’re thinking. “This guy better not tell me that I should be working out.” Well I won’t say that exactly, but I will say that we should all be taking time to build healthy habits and take care of our bodies. Consider it a long-term investment, just as our studies are.

Mental and physical health are interconnected as study after study shows. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help you function better in your studies, and your profession. I know that the idea of even stepping into the gym or making time to work out seems crazy, but there are other things that you can do to start building better habits.

First step is to get up and move throughout the day. I don’t mean like walking from class to class. I mean frequent stretches throughout studying and working. If you can switch it up and work while standing for a bit, give it a shot. Dr. James Levine is credited with the mantra “sitting is the new smoking”. He has studied the adverse effects of our lifestyles for years and is known for inventing the treadmill desk. Because of his extensive studies Dr. Levine declared “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.” I encourage you to look him up and read further into it if you have time.

Another step to take to boost your physical health is sweating. I know it sounds a bit gross but sweating has many positive impacts on the human body. Sweating can boost your overall mood and improve mental focus. This can come in the form of working out, or even using RIT’s sauna. Dr. Rhonda Patrick, a health specialist, has studied the effects of physical exertion on the human body. She found a correlation with sweating and mood, productivity, and longevity. She also found that sitting in a sauna provides the same benefits. She encourages people to sit in a sauna 3-5 times a week to boosts overall health. RIT has a sauna available to all students in the Fitness center locker rooms. Although working out provides you with more benefits then the sauna, if you don’t have time to work out try taking some time in the sauna as an alternative.

Other steps you can take to start increasing your physical health are just as easy as the last two. Start by setting small goals and try to hit them each week. Generally, a rule of thumb for remaining active is trying to walk 10,000 steps a day. We all carry our phones with us most of the time, so this shouldn’t be too hard to track. Another step is mapping out a workout plan and trying to get into the gym 2 to 3 times a week. Even if it’s just a quick 10-minute workout, it’ll help build the habit. Lastly be more mindful of your sugar intake and what you are eating. You don’t need to be on a hardcore diet to be healthier. Simply removing soda products, eating a few more vegetables, or not eating late night snacks can help. Whatever you do, implement it in small increments. You might find that it is easier to start forming new habits if you take it slowly rather than trying it all at once. Focus on hitting one or two goals a month, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly they become part of your lifestyle.

New Year, New Semester

by Kexin ‘Coco’ Wang, Visual Communications Design MFA student

This year, for the first time in four years, I got to spend the New Year back at home in China. Although I couldn’t stay long enough for the Chinese New Year, I appreciate that I was able to be with my family and friends in my hometown, wishing for a bright and promising new year together.

I recall that last time when I was home for winter break, I had just finished my first semester in College, and now I am a graduate student who has got one semester down successfully. Really, time flies so quick! It’s hard to believe how much I have grown and developed as a person through the college years and my first year here at RIT. “The only thing that is constant is change,” as Heraclitus said. However, I think for me, the only constant is my willingness to accept the change and thrive, and my adaptation to them. I believe that change creates possibilities that help me to live my life better.

From high school in Maine to college in Colorado, and to now in Rochester, along with trips to Spain, Germany, France, Portugal, Belgium, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Japan, I enjoyed every single challenge and opportunity that came my way. In the meantime, I keep training myself to develop greater confidence in my ability to navigate new surroundings and further expand my skill-set. So for the new year and new semester, I am still aiming at the achievement of the very same goal, which is to embrace and adapt to the changes.

What will my biggest change or challenge be in 2018? I guess at the moment it’s going to be trying to find a valuable internship and switching into “work mode” during the summer. Gladly, RIT has a co-op/internship and summer research program that could help students get a paid internship with real world experience. If you want to learn more about this opportunity, you could visit their website for more information. So hopefully, I could get an internship in my dream field and make summer meaningful.

That is just one big challenge I could name for now, but as I am in a phase of life with so many unknown experiences lying ahead, I might get surprised at any moment. Therefore, I am also learning how to prepare myself for any possible options and feelings and know how to make healthy decisions and plans. I am extremely excited for this year full of surprises and study/work mode changes, and hopefully I could get to live the life I wish to! And I strongly hope your New Year is off to a good start!

#myRITstory – Megan Fritts

Megan Fritts is from Erie, Pennsylvania and completed her BFA in Illustration in May 2008. She is currently working towards her Master’s degree in Professional Studies with a concentration in Higher Education and Leadership. Read her #myRITstory below!

Megan is an Academic Adviser in the Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences.

I started working at RIT during my undergraduate degree, and was asked shortly after graduation to come back as a temp for a staff assistant position. I became the full-time staff assistant in 2008, and moved into an academic advising position in July of 2012.”

Megan loves working with other RIT students and uses her own experience as a student to inform her advising style. “In the 10 years that I have been working full-time, I have had the great opportunity to work with hundreds of different students in their educational path of earning a degree. This includes students who start in a major and decide it is not the right fit, those who earned a degree and are coming back to pursue a new career path, those that start and finish in the same program, etc. Working with students has been extremely rewarding experience, and one that is different every day. What I went to school for in my Bachelor’s degree had nothing to do with the career path that I chose to pursue after school. However, the experiences that I had in school, and in finding a job have been a great influence in how I work with students and guide them through their academic path. ”

Megan also had good suggestions for students who are on a job hunt. “Do not give up! Do not be afraid to use the connections and resources that are provided for you through RIT. If you have a friend or a family member that can help make a connection at a company for you, use this opportunity. This is not cheating or taking the easy way out. At the end of the day, they can help with the connection, you will be doing the interviewing and proving you deserve the position. Additionally, RIT’s Co-op and Career Services office provides resources and assistance to alumni for life. Keep a close connection with the co-op advisor’s, former faculty, and most importantly, do not be afraid to use the vast and amazing RIT alumni network.”

RIT offers mock interviews for students so students have the opportunity to be “interviewed” by people in industry and receive valuable feedback before their real interviews take place. Megan recommends students keep practicing their interview skills, whether finding example questions through Google or talking to others in a field about their experiences or questions they had. The more knowledgeable you are going into an interview them more comfortable you will feel. Also, If you have some close friends or peers in your major or in industry already, ask if they will do a mock interview with you.

Thank you, Megan, for sharing your #myRITstory!

Home Sweet Home

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

It was 7 am and I was trying to frantically catch a cab after my 30 hour journey to India. I was going to surprise my family and friends and with every ticking minute I was getting impatient. This is how my winter break started and from there on it was an amazing trip filled with some really great memories. I managed to surprise my mom and got her to cry which kind of made me feel like Ellen DeGeneres. My family was very happy to see me after 9 months and so were my friends.

After successfully finishing my first mission to surprise all my loved ones, me being a foodie, embarked on my second mission to eat all my favorite food. I might have had a hundred different dishes which probably made my Snapchat followers jealous. Later as I was cruising through the city over the rest of my trip I was surprised with all the changes to my hometown and it hit me suddenly then that it was no longer the place I knew. I wasn’t even sure I can call it my hometown anymore, given for the fact that all my favorite places are either closed or renovated. For the longest time

this place was the greatest place on Earth but today I am really not sure if I still identify the place. That was when I started thinking about Rochester, the place where I have been for a couple of years now. I was remembering my favorite Ramen place in downtown Rochester, then I remembered all my friends at work and school who I spend my weekends with and a small bunch of people who I call my family. I wasn’t sure where home is anymore and that is when I realized I did grow as a person and can’t identify a single place as home anymore. I am now a man with two homes and after all as a wise man once said “Home is where the Heart Is”.