Graduate Computer Science: Bridge Courses

I have decided to make this post after a ton of questions regarding the Computer Science Bridge courses. This post is similar to an FAQ about the bridge courses and how to handle them from the point of graduate Computer Science. Now, this post is from a perspective of not just me, but from several graduate computer science students who have done all these courses. Therefore, you can also think this post as a collective testimonial.

Before we get into the common questions I get from students, let me give you a brief introduction about the bridge courses and bridge waiver exams so that you have a complete understanding of them.

Bridge Courses: The graduate bridge courses at the Computer Science Department are provided for students so that they are well prepared and have adequate knowledge to handle the “real” and more difficult graduate level courses. Now, this is my understanding, most of the graduate level courses at the CS department will be difficult, will involve a lot of programming and analysis and a lot of application based approach. You might also have to read a lot of research paper, for that, you will need to adequate understanding of Computer Theory, have a sound foundation in Data Structures and you should be really good at one major programming language. This is what the bridge courses exactly focused on: Foundations of Computer Theory, Advanced Computational Problem Solving, and Advanced Object Oriented Programming.

Bridge Waiver Exam: Now some of you might feel that you are already good all the above, that is the reason the CS department, has a bridge waiver exam so that you have a fair shot at proving that you are already ready for the graduate level courses and do not need to do the bridge courses. The bridge waiver exams cover the exact same things as mentioned above meaning you will have 3 exams in the bridge waiver for each course. Now, you need to get at least a B-grade in all the exams. B is approximately 83, this may change, but this generally a B and this is what you should aim for. Now, some people feel or felt that this is a high cut-off, but you should remember this is also the grade that you will need to pass the course itself. The bridge waiver exam will reflect the coursework. Also, this is a common cut-off throughout the US. The GPA you see everywhere throughout your graduate application requirements, that number 3.0 is equivalent to a grade point average equal to B. Now, I will be honest,  personally, I didn’t take the bridge waiver exam, because I am a 2018 Electrical Engineering pass out and therefore, didn’t have any experience in Computer Science but the consensus from others were that it is difficult to pass the Bridge Waiver exam, because the majority of the exam questions are tricky, with a few them being difficult.

Book for Foundation in Computer Theory

Having done the bridge courses, I would say having a really strong understanding in important Java and OOP concepts like Java Strings, Multi-threading, Networking, Streams, Inheritance, etc. will help you clear the Advanced Object-Oriented Programming exam. I would recommend reading Java Documentation from Oracle for this particular exam. Now for the CSCI-603: Computational Problem Solving, according to me is the easiest of the 3. Having a good foundation in Data Structures and common algorithms like sorting, tree traversal, graph traversals, etc. along with the basics of python will be enough to pass the exam. For the Computer Theory exam, be strong in Automata Theory like designing DFAs and NFAs, Proof Writing, CFGs, Regular expressions, Kleene’s Theorem, Pumping Lemma, CFGs, PDAs, Turing machines. I would recommend reading the “Theory of Computation by Michael Sipser”, sometimes a question will be provided straight out of this book. I have provided a link to all the materials used for the bridge course as well waiver exam at the bottom of the post.

Here are my top ten tips for your bridge courses:

  1. Start off strong, this is very was very important at least for me. I am usually not a very confident guy. It’s usually because whenever I get confident, I jinx myself and everything goes bad, like really bad. So, I checked my course structure, saw most of my courses had the same weight for the midterms and the final. I did well in my assignments, worked hard for my first midterm, and, aced it. This gave me a bit of breathing space and much-needed confidence that I can do well in CS courses considering that was the first CS exam I had ever written
  2.  Target the first midterm, this reiterates my point of starting strong. Doing well in your first midterm will put you on track of getting a good GPA and probably boosting your scholarship or getting a scholarship. Trust me, seeing a good score after your first midterm, will relieve you of your initial jitters. The first midterm will be the easiest of the 3 exams you will have. The concepts will only get tougher as you go forward, you will need to have a buffer so that even if you tend to lose marks down the line, you can still get that magical A grade. I know who didn’t perform well during the first midterm, few of them barely made it and some of them stare retaking the course, even though they did improve in the other exams. In short, target midterm-1, it will be easier, will give you a boost towards a good GPA.
  3.  Do not lose marks in the assignments, this is the golden rule for bridge courses. You will have enough time to plan and do well in your assignments, they carry a good percentage of your marks, they aren’t difficult if you attend classes regularly. I would say not to lose more than 3 marks overall in assignments, ideally not more 1 mark, which is possible. Personally, the only assignments I struggled with where Computer Theory ones. You will have a grading session for every Java Assignment from CSCI-605 where you will have to explain your design to your grader.

    Comp Sci Mentoring Center, 3rd floor of Golisano CSCI Building.

     

  4. Computer Science Mentoring Center: You will find tutors over here where you can who will help you understand the course material. They won’t solve your homework, don’t even try. They will easily know a homework question when they see one. They will clear the doubts regarding homework and point you in the right direction, they will definitely not give you the answer or solve it for you.
  5. Don’t take quizzes lightly, I lost my marks in quizzes, I hate them because I am poor at short-timed tests. At first, it will feel like you have just lost an insignificant portion of your marks until it accumulates and screws your GPA. A lot of my friends, myself included, lost marks in quizzes especially in CSCI-603: Computational Problem Solving. Remember, you need to score 93 and above to get an A and losing 2 marks in Quizzes out of 10 means you cannot lose more than 5 marks in 2 midterms and a final.
  6. Time management: I had previously written a blog post based on time management and its importance in graduate studies. I, personally feel a lot of people who struggled with the coursework weren’t able to properly manage their time. The major difference between those people with the 4.0 GPA and other people, is that they had a proper schedule and were wonderful at time management (you would occasionally see that “All I touch, turn to gold” person, ignore them).
  7. Ask questions, if you have a question ask it in the class. Don’t worry about that super nerd who gives you a condescending stare indirectly saying “That’s so obvious.” Screw him! Hopefully, you won’t have any in the class. You are paying money so that those concepts that aren’t obvious to you, become obvious. You are paying above $5,000 so that you can ask these questions. The professors want you to ask questions, there is no such thing as a silly question, that’s a myth. This obviously doesn’t mean you can interrupt class ask questions about Game of Thrones. Also, your TAs and Professors, will hold office hours, use those timings to clear all your doubts to be it assignments or lectures. Sometimes, even when you don’t have doubts, go to office hours especially before the midterm to watch other people asking doubts. This will help you learn.
  8. Take notes, not everything will be there on the lecture slides. This is because there will be people who will never attend lectures if this were the case.
  9. Attend classes regularly, there will be classmates who you will see only during the exams. Just because they are making a bad choice doesn’t mean you need to. As I said before, not everything will be in the lecture slides. You pay to learn from the Professional who has come in to teach a bunch of eager students wanting to learn, the last thing they want to see is that half the class have decided to go AWOL, which just means that searing passion and interest you talked about in your Statement of Purpose just went AWOL too. Also, it is kind of disrespectful towards the Professor. You wouldn’t have attendance for most of the courses but inform them, at least for the sake of being courteous, if you can’t make it.
  10. Work Hard, if you follow this tip alone, you don’t need to worry about all the above. Study regularly, you will see the results. RIT is a university where students who work hard will not be let down.
    Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Why should I do a bridge course? 

A. You do a bridge course because you didn’t pass the waiver exam, which means you aren’t prepared for the actual graduate level courses which will be more difficult than bridge courses. Imagine a scenario where there were no bridge courses, many people end up struggling in the graduate level courses, some of them fail the courses and decide to drop out of the program altogether because they didn’t have sufficient foundation. Disastrous scenario! You may think about decreasing the difficulty of the coursework, this would lead to a decrease in the quality of the content being thought, which the professors would never agree on. Students to RIT because of the quality of the coursework, you don’t want the quality to go down. Quality is what you are paying for. To avoid such a scenario, the bridge courses were designed.

Q. But but, I have tons of experience and have already done all these in my undergrad?

A. Then you can pass the bridge waiver. Also, let me tell you a real-world example, I know a senior who had 7 years of Software Development experience, worked in a fortune 100 company, still didn’t pass one of the bridge course and retake it. Now, he works full time at Microsoft. This is what he said, “The bridge courses where really an eye opener, I would have definitely failed poorly in the higher level grad level courses without them.”, I had this conversation with him when I joined RIT. He also said that without the bridge course, professors might have toned down the difficulty level and hence, the overall quality of the other advanced courses, especially in a scenario where if many students aren’t well prepared for it or most of them might end up withdrawing or failing the course.

Q. But I have heard the waiver exam is difficult to clear?

A. That’s standard the Computer Science Department has set for you, they want students to be at that level before they go into the higher level graduate courses. That’s the standard your professors want you to be at.

Q. What are the advantages of taking the Bridge Course?

A. Ah! Now you have started asking the right question. The main advantage is you will be well prepared for your advanced courses. The bridge course will also give you the time to settle in a new place and a new country if you are an international student. Apart from that, bridge courses will be directly helpful in your interviews. Trust me, this is something that almost every CS will agree on. Also, remember that Bridge Course GPA is counted towards your final CGPA and scholarships. Your bridge courses will be much much easier than your higher grad level courses, getting a solid GPA in your bridge semester and will also help you boost your scholarship.

Q. Can I do the bridge courses any time during my tenure at RIT?

A. No, you cannot. Whatever bridge course you have been assigned must be completed during the first semester. Unless you get special permission from the program director.

Q. Can I do another subject along with the bridge courses? 

A. Depends on how many bridge courses you cleared using the waiver exam. If you have cleared zilch, you would most likely not be allowed to do more than 3 subjects during the first semester, hence you cannot. If you have cleared one or two or all of them, set up a meeting with the program director and ask on how you should proceed, he will be able to provide proper guidance, since it is your first semester.

Q. What chances do I have of clearing the waiver exam? 

A. It depends on your skill-set. Very few people clear it, but I believe the fact the many of my senior passed down this idea that only a few people can clear it, sort of acted as a mental barrier and people kind of gave up before they attempted the exam or just didn’t take it seriously thinking that they would not be able to clear it. Remember, the mountains are there to be climbed. I will tell you this, you prepare well and work hard, you can clear the waiver exam. Just think of it as your final exam (or the board exam as they used to call it in my country) and give it a real shot. Remember even if you don’t pass the waiver exam, having a solid preparation for it will give you a head start for the bridge course.

Q. Can I waive the course off by taking it in some other university or institution? 

A. You still would need to give the bridge waiver exam and clear it. If you don’t, you still have to take the bridge course for the first semester. So basically, it doesn’t change anything.

Q.  I am switching my major to Computer Science, how should I handle the bridge courses?

A. Don’t worry, I was in your shoe, I am not a complete nerd and I did well. You can do it too, probably even better than me. Try and get some idea of the materials you are going to learn before the start of the semester. Read every day, manage your time and don’t over stress yourself.

ConnectNY – consortium of libraries.

Q. What books should I buy?

A. Honestly, you don’t need to buy one. I never did. You can get one from the library. If the book is not currently available, use the ConnectNY program at the Wallace Library to borrow books from libraries of other universities that are also a part of the ConnectNY program. ConnectNY is a consortium of libraries in New York. You can use your wallace library RIT account for the ConnectNY. Make sure for any course you take, you have check with both RIT and ConnectNY before you buy one.

Q. I am struggling with the bridge course, what can I do? 

A. Work harder! Use the professors’ office hours to work on your problems and clear your doubts. Use the mentoring center. Get some good sleep and eat well.

Q. But the entire class is struggling?

A. This is a rare case. If this happens, talk to your professor as a group. He will deal with it.

Q. I heard professors might sometimes curve your grades, is this true?

A. Erase this from your mind this instant. You rarely get curves for the bridge courses. There was this myth floating around during my first semester that professors will curve if many people are struggling. Many people did poorly in their first midterm and hoped for a curve. Most of them had to retake the entire course because guess what? There was no curve. You perform badly, you have to acknowledge it and work on it. Simple. My roommate missed an A by 0.2 and would have got 40% scholarship if he had an A. He asked the professor for a curve, he got shut down.

Q. Do I have to choose my specialization or cluster in my first semester?

A. No, you don’t, you won’t and you can’t, unless you have a passed all the waiver exams. Also, there is no predefined thing such as choosing a cluster, it like a metaphor. The simple rule is that if you want to do a particular specialization, you have to do the prerequisite foundation/introduction course from that cluster. If you don’t do that, you cannot take other courses from that cluster and this applies to all clusters.

Q. When is the bridge waiver exam? 

A. You will get an email about it. It’s usually after graduate student orientation and before the CS orientation.

Q. How is the registration for the bridge courses done?

A. The registration for the bridge courses will be done by the Computer Science department. This is an exception for only the bridge courses. Hence, you won’t get to choose professors for the bridge courses alone.

I hope, this post answers a majority of your question on bridge courses. As I said I will be providing you with the links here. Have fun and also study hard!

Bridge Test information: http://spiegel.cs.rit.edu/~hpb/public_html/Bridge/

Resources:

CSCI-661: Foundations of Computer Theory – Book

CSCI-605  Advanced Object Oriented PRogramming: http://spiegel.cs.rit.edu/~hpb/Lectures/2181/605/index.html, Java Docs

CSCI-603 – Computational Problem Solving: http://interactivepython.org/runestone/static/pythonds/index.html

Mentoring Center: https://www.cs.rit.edu/getting-help

RIT Library Database and ConnectNY

myRITStory – DRISHTI BHANDARI

Program: Metals and Jewelry Design, MFA

The journey from NIFT, India to RIT was endearing as Drishti recalls it. Coming from a jewelry-design background wanting to acquire more expertise in her field, Drishti made a conscious decision to join RIT’s Master of Fine Arts program in Metals and Jewelry Design, one of the most reputed metal design programs in the entire country.

“I always have people curiously coming up to me asking questions about my program as a majority of them come mostly from engineering and computing backgrounds”, says Drishti. “They find it brave and challenging to pursue a field so unique and unheard of”.

Having her jewelry pieces represented at India’s reputed fashion shows, it was time for Drishti to explore further into the field and acquire higher professional standing in her field. After extensive research, she chose RIT because of the impressively designed curriculum and the exposure provided by the department. She was taken aback by the composition of the curriculum that provides broad exposure to metalworking techniques, promises expanded knowledge of applied design, strong perceptual and philosophical concepts and helps develop an individual mode of expression, facilitating her to practically implement her theoretical knowledge from her under graduation into the creation of intricate models. With an existing impressive portfolio, she believed that an advanced degree from RIT and assistance from industry-renowned professors were sure to guarantee her immense success in the design field.

Drishti plans on making the most of her experience at RIT. Along with the comprehensive coursework that requires long and arduous hours in the ceramics and metals lab, she juggles between schoolwork and a fun job at the Brick City Café and believes it is a great way to meet new people and make ends meet as well. From late hours in the lab crafting beautiful designs with her own hands, she believes that the hands-on experience is providing her with a more detailed outlook in the metal design field.

“People back home are scared to pursue their interests in fields that are unheard of because of the stringent rules back here in the US. However, if an individual is determined enough to work for something that they truly love, success comes easy. I would not have found a better place to learn and hone my skills than at RIT amongst the best peers and faculty.”

Lastly, Drishti considers that choosing Rochester Institute of Technology turned out to be a much better decision than she expected. She believes that although it has been one of the toughest things she has had to do, at the end of the day she loves every second of it!

 

 

IST Labs at GCCIS

The Golisano College is housed within a three-floor, 126,500 sq. ft. facility that features stunning architecture coupled with state-of-the-art research facilities.

There are 13 classrooms, 12 studio teaching labs, and 16 dedicated labs at the College, offering access to the study of every major computing platform. The College’s dedicated Security Lab is isolated from the rest of the campus’s networks to allow the in-depth study of viruses, firewalls, and other computer vulnerabilities.

The Lab Assistants are responsible to manage the Cage. The cage is basically a hub that stores a plethora of hardware that the students can lend for their classes or projects; it is also the place where the labbies sit and take care of the multiple labs in the IST department.

The labs at the IST department are as follows:

  • NETWORK LABS
  •  Networking Lab
  • Systems Administration Lab
  • AirGap Lab

  • SECURITY LAB

  • DATABASE LABS
  • DB Small Lab
  • DB Medium Lab
  • DB Large Lab

  • OPEN LABS
  • Grad Lab
  • Open Lab and Tutoring Center

  • MAC LAB 1 (CS Dept)
  • MAC LAB 2 (CS Dept)

Additional labs include an Entertainment Lab for 3D modeling game and interactive media development lab, a Mobile Computing and Robotics Lab for the research and development of portable devices; and an Artificial Intelligence lab dedicated to the understanding of human reactions and processing.

#myRITstory – Antoinette Defoundoux

In honor of International Women’s Day (this Friday, March 8th) we’re proudly featuring the stories of #RITWomen this week. Join us Friday morning at 9 a.m. for a webinar featuring our female students and staff as they discuss RIT history, opportunities for women in STEM, and RIT’s curriculum, research, and campus life. Register today!

Antoinette Defoundoux-Fila is from the Republic of Congo in Central Africa and is passionate about helping people. She has always wanted to work in the health field, and for a long time wanted to become a medical doctor. Since starting her studies at RIT, her new passion is to work in the research and develop medical devices. She is currently pursuing her MS degree in Manufacturing and Mechanical System Integration and is avidly working on her capstone project with her adviser, Dr. O’Neil. Antoinette’s project focuses on the redesigning of jet nebulizers (medical devices that are used to treat respiratory diseases) to make it adaptable to a hand cranked compressor. This system will be used in low income countries where access to electricity can be difficult hence making an electric compressor useless. Their work involves redesigning the nebulizers to make sure that the medicine droplet size stays the same dosage when using a hand cranked compressor.

When she is not in class, Antoinette is busy with the Women in Technology (WIT) group on campus where she can give (and receive!) support from other STEM women on campus and the program leader, Nykki Mathews. This serves as a place of motivation and support for her, where she can always seek help and get advice through weekly meetings and the other resources available.

Antoinette also has a passion for helping younger women become interested in STEM fields. Her favorite RIT event is the Girls in STEM fair. During the fair, female students of all ages (kindergarten to high school) from local schools come to RIT to enjoy a day of educational activities put together by female engineering and science students and professors. Antoinette loves the event because it “shows that science and technology can be fun, but also, at the end of the day a lot of those participants want to pursue a career in engineering or science.”

Antoinette will be leaving RIT this spring, but wants others to know what a special place RIT is, especially for women. “There is a club for everybody at RIT. This diversity helps students find a sense of community and belonging in whatever club you identify with.”

.Learn more about RIT’s Manufacturing and Mechanical Systems Integration MS program here.

#MyRITstory- Ajinkya Shinde

Ajinkya Shinde is a second-year graduate student at RIT. He began his journey as a grad student in January 2017 in the field of Electrical Engineering, but his passion laid in robotics and automation. This made him transfer to the Manufacturing and Mechanical Systems Integration (MMSI) department. The smooth shift between the departments helped him to take a step forward towards his passion in automation. It is truly said, “everything comes with a cost”, it was difficult for Ajinkya to get familiar to the mechanical terms as he had his background in electrical engineering, but his interest and dedication made him come over all those obstacles and perform exceptional in his current field of study.

Selection of courses and managing them in the time limit that you are given is another challenging part of a grad life. After he changed his major, he took the classes and electives in a way that can earn him degree in two of the different concentrations that are provided by the department. So, he could know more about Electronics Manufacturing and Advanced Concepts of Semiconductor Packaging.

The greed to achieve more encouraged him to push himself harder and in 2018, he started working as a Teaching Assistant for a Biomedical Engineering course, Control Systems. This was just the beginning and a step towards success. After that semester working as TA, he is currently working as a Graduate Research Assistant for Dr Martin Anselm. The research is in the field of Photonics. He is also working as a Vice President of SMTA (Surface Mount Technology Association) RIT Student Chapter. Thus, he has been successful in achieving and exploring all possible opportunities that he could at RIT and is hoping to explore more in the future. From the experience as a grad student, Ajinkya says that hard work and perseverance are the foundation to be a successful person”.

Learn more about RIT’s MMSI department.

Learn more about the SMTA Student Chapter at RIT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#myRITstory – Alyssa Recinella

In honor of International Women’s Day (this Friday, March 8th) we’re proudly featuring the stories of #RITWomen this week. Join us Friday morning at 9 a.m. for a webinar featuring our female students and staff as they discuss RIT history, opportunities for women in STEM, and RIT’s curriculum, research, and campus life. Register today!

Alyssa Recinella, PhD in Engineering

Q: When did you begin your degree program at RIT?

A: I started as a Bachelor’s student in Engineering Exploration back in 2011. I eventually picked mechanical engineering and joined the dual degree BS/MS program back in 2015. I graduated in December 2016 and began my doctoral program in January 2017.

Q: What is your expected date of graduation?

A: Currently, May 2020. But it all depends on funding! My degree may be extended by a summer or a semester. But the goal is to finish either in May 2020 or December 2020.

Q: Do you have a favorite spot on campus?

A: I have a few! I love doing homework in Java’s. I enjoy sitting by the windows in the engineering building to watch the rain or snow while I’m reading or having a conference call. Finally, I really enjoy the Fireside Lounge with a good cup of coffee and some music, especially when the fire is going.

Q: Do you have a favorite RIT event? Why?

A: Oh man, hockey!!! Who doesn’t love hockey? I grew up watching the Detroit Red Wings and I’ve loved watching the Tigers the past few years, especially in the new Polisseum!

Q: Are you involved in any clubs or groups on campus?  Do you have a special role in that group?

A: During my undergrad I was very involved in Engineers for a Sustainable World and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. I had a few different leadership roles in both clubs throughout the years. Now I’m the president of the Doctoral Student Association on campus.

Q: What do you enjoy most about RIT?

A: There’s something for everyone. Want to go into the Greek system? We have it. Want to build machines that shoot foam balls? We have it. Want to play with Legos or build fake roller coasters? We have it. Want to stay in your room and play video games while a robot brings you soda? We have it.

Q: Have you completed a Co-Op? If so, how was your experience with the process?

A: I’ve had 4 different co-ops. All of them were diverse and ranged in expectations and experience. But one main factor they all had in common = it is what you make it. If I didn’t have work to do, I made work to do. And other teams became interested and I was recognized by more people. I was in new cities with no one that I knew and ended up with long-term connections and great experiences. Go in open minded of everything! You may not enjoy the work you’re doing but that doesn’t mean you have to have a bad time. You have now learned that you don’t quite enjoy that line of work but maybe you learned some awesome software or technical skills along the way. Stay positive!

  1. Research Assistant, Machinist, DesignerThermal Analysis, Microfluidics and Fuel Cell Lab at RIT – January 2014 – August 2014
  2. Thermal Engineer – IBM – January 2015 – August 2015
  3. Thermal Engineer – Carrier Corporation – May 2017 – August 2017
  4. Oncology Intern – Rochester Regional Health – May 2018 – August 2018

Q: Why did you chose RIT?

A: So many reasons. I had a lot of criteria when choosing colleges but the top 5 most important were the following:

  1. Co-op Program (RIT’s program is just incredible and that’s a fact)
  2. Finances (scholarship, tuition costs, housing costs in the area, etc.)
  3. Distance to home (for me, not too close, not too far away)
  4. The Engineering Program (ease of transfer into other disciplines, amount of other disciplines, esteem of the program compared to other schools, hands-on curriculum, etc.)
  5. Size of the school (I was looking at schools that had 2,000 people and looking at schools that had 50,000 people; RIT was a happy medium)

Q: Do you have a Research/Thesis/Capstone project you are excited about? Can you share some details.

A: Absolutely! I’m currently studying breast cancer detection techniques. We’re studying a non-invasive, no contact, no radiation method called Infrared Imaging. Although there is controversy with the FDA around this technology, most of it is based on the fact that there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence or exploration backing the technology. So for my dissertation, we’re trying to prove that this is a valid method that should be considered through in-depth scientific exploration and clinical trials.

Q: Do you have a specific career goal? If so, what?

A: Absolutely not. I know I want to work in Research and Development somewhere but I’m completely open when it comes to the field and the organization. I’d preferably either like to work in a National Lab, in industry (like a start-up) or in a government facility (NASA or the DoD)

Q: What are you most proud of/passionate about at RIT?

A: The answer to this question has changed every year that I’ve been at RIT. At the moment, I’m immensely proud of the growing PhD programs at RIT and my involvement in the Doctoral Student Association (DSA). We’re trying to get doctoral students in all different disciplines to collaborate in multidisciplinary activities, expose our programs to more local companies and alumni, get students out of the lab for some good free food and games and finally bring more people to the downtown area to serve the Rochester community. The DSA is a brand new organization on campus and I’m so proud to see how far it’s come in the past 2 years.

Q: In your opinion, what about RIT provides a sense of community?

A: I think there are certain activities or events on campus that make everyone feel proud to be here. But the biggest aspect is what I said above: there’s something here for everyone. People feel like they belong. We don’t all necessarily belong to the same groups but all the groups belong to RIT. And when people are happy within their own spaces, they feel closer to the campus and to the community.

For more information about RIT’s Engineering PhD program, or to explore other graduate school options, review our program list here.

Time and Stress Management

Before we start off, I would like to say that this post wasn’t just constructed from my own experience or opinion but after talking to a lot people, coming from different professional and educational program, people who have either struggled to adapt to their new grad life, people who are moving so easily through the program that it’s almost unfair, (seriously do you guys have some kind of a cheat code?), and people who have altogether quit. Don’t worry too much about the last case, they are few and far between. One thing, I want to you guys to recognize is that Graduate Studies is like going to the gym if you think just going there and starting at the treadmill will magically make you more fit, trust me been there done that and it doesn’t work. Similarly, just attending graduate school isn’t going to make you magically an expert unless you put in the work. Graduate School is a guide and means of achieving expertise. Also, to my fellow international students, remember that you are in a new country, a new environment, so don’t worry if it’s hard at the beginning, it is supposed to be and your professors will understand that. At RIT, every graduate department has tons of resources that will help you grow, every program has been designed carefully taking the needs of the students and the current trend in the field into consideration.

Graduate School is a guide and means of achieving expertise.

Now, not all graduate programs are the same, in fact, you will come to realize that not every class for a particular subject are the same, as the course structure will vary significantly depending on the professor. With that in mind, although I am a graduate computer science student, I will try to keep this as generic as possible. I am pretty sure you guys are fed up with my ramblings by now, so shall we get into the actual points (and a bit more rambling) that I want to drive home?

Time Management:

This is one of the most essential points I want to convey. You can easily overcome almost 40% of the challenges you will face if you can properly manage your time. You will have projects, midterms, homework, quizzes, research papers, and you will have at least two of these every week for all your classes. Apart from this, I can’t stress this enough, you must spend time studying and reviewing what the concepts covered before and after your classes. Trust me, you would be making your life significantly harder if you think you can do an overnight homework or a last-minute study for your midterms, forget the finals. If you are working on campus, you would need to take that into consideration too. Some of you might think managing time is easy, well unless you have a graduate degree in time management (if it one exists), everyone both undergrad and grad students in the USA struggle with it. Learning when to jump at new opportunities and when to say no to extra tasks is a skill which every academic should develop if they are to avoid going mad. So how do you cope up with this? That brings me to my next point.

Planning:

Plan your work. Most of your project/homework deadlines will be given at least 2 weeks ahead, plan early on how to proceed with them and try to stick to the plan. Most people develop some plan or the other, but the problem actually arises from not being following the plan. So, stick to your plan guys. Also, make sure the schedule is flexible, life isn’t a play with scripts. Something important activity may suddenly come up that must be accommodated. Also, make sure you plan gives you a decent period to rest and is within reasonable expectation. It isn’t reasonable to think you can finish a week load of assignments in two days, so you can Netflix and chill. I have seen one of my roommates try that only to fail miserably where he “Netflix and Chilled” a little too early, only to find he had read the problem wrong while in a hurry to complete the homework. Evaluate your limits before you plan. You may be a slow coder or a fast learner, consider your strengths and weaknesses and make sure your plan reflects that. Make sure you include daily activities like cooking, laundry, and housekeeping in your plan. Make sure you have time for a proper meal 3 times a day.

Every student has access to RIT’s myCourses, where all your deadline will be listed, if not, check your professor website. You can set alerts for your deadlines, most of the times they have alerts by default.

Prioritizing:

Doing a project that is 10 days when you have a midterm in the next two days, is not working smart. You will have to learn to prioritize your work and I don’t mean prioritizing Netflix over an assignment. You might decide to prioritize based on the nearest deadline or based on which homework you feel is the hardest among different courses. Sometimes you can altogether avoid prioritizing if you stick to plan. Setting out enough time in your day to fulfill your tasks will help you with this process and enable you to, when necessary, say “nope, I literally do not have enough time to do that”. Prioritizing is nothing but working smart. Check myCourses regularly, sometimes your deadlines could be postponed thanks to your Professor, at which point you shift your priority.

Procrastination:

Do not procrastinate! Seriously, you will be overwhelmed if you procrastinate even for a day, not joking on this. I have done this, everyone has, and everyone regrets it. Tomorrow always seems like a better option until you see your grade pop up on myCourses.

Stress Management:

I can’t stress this point enough (see what I did there?). Stress is one of the most common hurdles in life and it’s no different in graduate school. Stress is a very important issue as it can sometimes lead to depression if not properly managed. What causes stress in a graduate student? Well, that depends on you, I personally get stressed on almost everything. There are people who don’t get stressed even if it’s the end of the world. I would suggest you to not be in either of those categories. There is no way to avoid it, what you can do is try and manage it.

RIT offers an array of services under the Tigers Care program to help with the stress, if you ever feel overly stressed out or depressed, I would suggest you make use of the services. They offer counseling and consultation, 5 days a week except for the weekends. There are many activities conducted regularly throughout RIT for stress management. One of my favorite stress-busting activity is hanging out with the therapy dogs. They visit the Wallace library many times during a semester. Another method to cope up with stress is to join clubs. There are a huge number of clubs at RIT and they will welcome you with open arms. Most of the clubs have a weekly meeting, join them, make new friends, there is no better way to deal with stress other than to hang out with your friends. Want to take a quick Nap? Look no further than Naps.rit or as I would like to call it, NapZzz. Naps.rit brings you the best napping spaces around campus. Knowing where to nap on campus is perfect for those moments when you need to unwind between classes. You can find more information about these various facilities in the links provided at the very end of the post.

Therapy Dogs at Wallace Library

Be Responsible:

Most of you might be new to Rochester, heck even the entire country. You will definitely want to visit new places, go for parties, enjoy life outside of academics, which you should but remember the purpose you are here for. You will have breaks in between the semester to spend time on your favorite leisure. So, remember to focus on your goals first, achieving them should be the first priority. Success doesn’t come overnight, it comes with hard work and sacrifice. Everything in life follows something I call the “law of equivalent exchange”, one cannot gain anything without giving something in return, success is rarely gained without sacrifices and hard work. RIT is a university where hard-work will not go unnoticed, work hard and you will reap your rewards at RIT. That said, it is also very important to relax when it’s time to. Do not burn yourself out by overworking. Find a balance.

Everything in life follows something I call the “law of equivalent exchange”, one cannot gain anything without giving something in return, success is rarely gained without sacrifices and hard work.

Graduate school is the place where ignorance will not be forgiven. Don’t involve yourself in activities or controversies that you shouldn’t even be near to, like Academic Dishonesty in particular. This is very serious guys, I might even write a blog about it next time. Don’t copy solution for your homework from others or from the internet. Don’t even think about it. Every University in the US has very strict academic dishonesty rule. It is a crime, as simple as that. In RIT, especially in the Computer Science program, if you ever get involved in it, you better start packing your goods because you won’t be staying here for much longer. It has happened to some of my classmates, it happens in every department and in every semester. A huge percentage of your orientation will be based on it. So, you cannot plead ignorance. Therefore, be responsible, if you need help with your homework, talk to your professor or TA, they will gladly help you out. It is better to admit you don’t know how to proceed with a problem statement than to use a solution that isn’t yours and make a career-ending decision.

Aside from the above, sometimes all that is required is proper motivation. There will be days where you will feel tired, days where will not be feeling like getting out of bed, days where you might question yourself whether all this worth your effort. In such cases, all you have to do is think of your purpose of attending graduate school in the first place. Focus on your, focus on your family, your parents, all the sacrifices you did or your family did in order to get you here. Use that as the motivation for your hard work. RIT provides a ton of facilities from start-up incubators to 24-hr labs.

I decided to make this post after witnessing a lot of people failing to find work-life balance. I, honestly, believe this stems from some of the above mentioned factors. It’s ok to make mistakes, you will make mistakes, but you should learn to pull yourself up after each fall. Graduate school isn’t just about studies, you will learn a lot of life that will stick with you throughout your life. That said, learn to enjoy your new grad life, you will learn a lot of cool things, meet a lot of new people and 10 years from now you might look back and smile thinking what the fuss was all about.

Naps.rit

For more information regarding, Tigers Care: https://www.rit.edu/studentaffairs/tigerscare/

For more information regarding Naps.rit: https://naps.rit.edu/

Work of Glass: Be A Master of Flame and Time

 

Master of fine arts degree: https://www.rit.edu/programs/glass-mfa

Bachelor of fine arts degree: https://www.rit.edu/programs/glass-bfa

https://artdesign.rit.edu/schools/american-crafts/graduate-glass

If you interested in to learn how to control fire and time to make work of art, you will enjoy the glass courses in RIT.

The MFA major in Glass is a two-year program of study, which strives to help you develop your personal creative voice through intensive research, discussion, critique, and experimentation. As a graduate student, you are provided full access to a complete glass facility and individual studio space to strengthen your technique and to practice designing pieces that flourish your personal expression of the medium. Graduate studio courses, seminar courses and in-depth critiques are provided, in conjunction with thesis planning and implementation, to provide you with a deep understanding of this personal craft. You will be exposed to a broad range of critical issues related to the conception and production of art, to inspire and provoke critical reflection and facilitate the development of your thesis exhibition and supporting documentation. As a graduate of this masters level major you can expect to move on to be a successful artist in this fine art field.

Before we design our glass work, we can sketch the idea and split the one sketch into detailed steps so that your partner will clearly understand what you want to make.

The professor shows students examples based on the teaching plan.

Then, the professor will give guidance according to the design scheme of different students.

In the process of teaching, our professor will always pay attention to the difficulties encountered by students in operation and help them in time.

Of course, If you are not in design major, you can choose this course as an elective course. Enjoy!

 

Changing majors in your mid 30’s #myRITstory

By Maria Grazia Guerrero

First year Grad Student ID MFA

It has been a while since I went to school. My undergrad is on Graphic Design Management and for the past 10 years I had been working for a prestigious Advertising Agency as an Art Director in my country (Ecuador). I gained experience, international awards, and it was a fun working environment to be in. But since college, when I took a Packaging Design class, I have been especially curious about Industrial Design as a profession.

I remember that at the time I thought, “Oh I wish I knew about this career before, oh well too late.” Go figure! 13 years later here I am finally switching careers to the one I feel is my true calling. I spent several years trying to study English on my own on my spare time, but it wasn’t enough when you work in advertising. So, I end up quitting and started to support myself with freelance jobs to have enough time to study for my English test, prepare my portfolio and be able to apply to grad school.

I don’t have a husband, neither kids. Nevertheless, when you are already settled in your career, as it was my case, changing majors is a difficult decision to make. You are risking your professional stability to take a big risk that you only can pray will turn out positively. Also, my family, friends, my culture… everything I knew was in my hometown city. It took me a long time but finally I got the English score I needed to be able to apply to grad school.

At plaster room with faculty member, Stan Rickel, teaching Function and Form I

So far, no regrets at all, everything I went through it was worth it. This has been a fulfilling experience. I am just starting the second semester from the first of two years that the Industrial Design MFA program at RIT lasts. Looking back, it’s amazing how much I learned in a short amount of time, faculty is really committed with this program and their students. There are events happening throughout the year with interesting talks and workshops that you can take advantage of as well. Also, you can find incredible opportunities to display and apply your work outside the classroom and join multidisciplinary teams that will only help you grow in your career.

Storyboard sketches for 2D Ideation and Visualization class

If you are in a situation like mine, I just can give you this advice: Time goes fast quickly, so don’t wait too long and don’t let your fears take you away from your dreams. I know, it sounds like a self-motivating speech but that doesn’t make it less true. I hope if you want to go to this or any other graduate program you find the way and take the courage to do so, you won’t regret it!

Thought at work 2019 organizers, this event is organized by students where interesting workshops and lectures happen every year.

If you want more information about the ID MFA program go to https://www.rit.edu/emcs/ptgrad/programs-of-study/programdetail/1195

#myRITstory – Susan Wylie

Graduate Program – Master of Architecture, M.Arch

As a Rochester native Susan Wylie did not need to adjust to living in a new area when she began her graduate studies. However, Wylie did have to readjust to being in a classroom again after working professionally for 25 years. Prior to attending RIT, Wylie had not been in a classroom for almost 30 years. Although it was a difficult transition for her at first because of the use of technology in the classroom and difference in teaching methods, Susan successfully overcame these obstacles and graduated with her Master of Architecture in December 2017.

As a student at RIT, Wylie worked with a professor for a semester and attended events hosted by the architecture department. Because of her responsibilities and coursework she spent almost every day on campus. She also completed a co-op with Bero Architecture located in Rochester, NY which was also a collaboration with the Landmark Society of Western, NY. Wylie recalls her co-op favorably stating that, “The experience did help me in terms of seeing how a firm operates and coordinates its work. Also, the people at both Bero and the Landmark Society were terrific.”

In addition to earning a Master in Architecture, Wylie is a licensed attorney and is searching for a job that will allow her to utilize both her legal and architectural skills. She still resides in the Rochester area with her family and speaks fondly of her time spent RIT, “It is a fantastic institution, and I am excited to watch the school continue to grow and to have great influence in our community and beyond!”

If you are interested in the Master of Architecture program you can find more information by clicking on the link below:

Master of Architecture