A Gap Year with Disney

Kexin “Coco” Wang, Visual Communication Design MFA

“My internship experience was definitely irreplaceable in a sense that it allowed me to explore my own strengths, passions, and preferences as I was getting prepared to enter the real-world creative industry. Without all these hands-on experiences, I would have no idea of which career path or direction I should take even with all the technical and design skills that I had.”

Long time no see MasterRIT blog followers! A year ago I posted an article about my design intern life in NYC, soon after that, I had another valuable opportunity to work with Disney in California as a digital art director intern and my magical gap year journey started all from there. So today I am going to briefly blog about my experience with Disney in the past year and tell you a bit about what I’ve learned and gained which really made a big difference in my life.

First I want to point out that taking an entire gap year from grad school was a big decision for me. My original goal was to finish grad education as soon as I could and locate a job after, but I also couldn’t just let the opportunity go when it was offered on my plate. Since I did not have any work experience prior to graduate study, I thought it would be nice to gain some relevant workplace skills, knowledge, insights and passion for a field that I was interested in. Once I made up my mind, things just became much clearer and I believed professional experience is just as important as excellent academic records.

I worked at Disney’s in-house agency, Yellow Shoes and my job was to help the digital team create digital content that promotes Disney Parks and Resorts. The overall experience was definitely like “living the dream” – my family and I, like most people, are huge fans of Disney and it truly felt like a dream that I got to work for the company when I grow up. I was also fascinated by Disney’s corporate culture and how each individual employee enjoys going to work every day and creates the ‘magic’ every day to bring joy to the others. Even though every single individual plays a small role but the joint effort together connects people around the world. And I was so honored to be able to become part of that joint effort and deliver happiness to the people who have love and trust in the brand.

During the internship, I have also come across unusual opportunities where I got to work on a variety of real-world projects and execute them as well. And these are all based on my team’s trust on me and my partner, and the trust that we placed on ourselves. One time we were asked to come up with an April Fool’s day video which also promotes Disney World. We ended up having the most ridiculous idea of combining the park snacks with the iconic Mickey ears. We faced many difficulties along the way and almost didn’t think it would ever happen. But what was less expected was that we won the creative’s approval at the last minute and got to start the production which eventually led to a big success on April Fool’s day. We couldn’t have made it happen without the team leaders’ support and trust and it’s so rewarding to see your own idea coming into life and win the hearts of your audience.

Another thing I want to share is that internship creates great connections for you. Making new friends and building connections helped me step out of my personal comfort zone during the internship, and eventually made me feel at ease and even somehow “at home”. I was very lucky to have a great team to work with and was able to get all the support and help when needed. And working with different departments and teams is also a great way to acquire new skills and knowledge that can help in the future. Even just by sharing life stories with coworkers allow me to learn the career/life paths they took to get where they are today. I believe these connections and teamwork skills can probably have a lifelong benefit.

My internship experience was definitely irreplaceable in a sense that it allowed me to explore my own strengths, passions, and preferences as I was getting prepared to enter the real-world creative industry. Without all these hands-on experiences, I would have no idea of which career path or direction I should take even with all the technical and design skills that I had. It made me realize that with my skills and abilities, I would have the most added value if I work for a creative marketing organization. I am greatly appreciated and thankful to RIT’s co-op program which allowed me to grow and shine in a unique way. And I truly wish that everyone who is hoping to get an internship in the future will be able to enjoy their co-op experience and try to get the most out of it. And keep in mind, even if it’s not so much a good experience, it still helps you figure out a path you would want to avoid in the future.

#myRITstory – Jinkai Qian

Jinkai Qian, Print Media MS

“RIT graduates work in the knowledge-based positions…in both production management and upper management positions…they are the most knowledgeable about color, printing, and pre-media applications, as well as the production workflow.”

Turning points are pivotal moments in life in which decisive change occurs. For Shanghai native Jinkai Qian, one such turning point was when a professor from the Master’s Degree in Print Media (MS-PPRT) program at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) came to visit the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology (USST). At the time, Jinkai was working on a Bachelor of Science degree in Digital Printing and was intrigued by the curriculum of the MS-PPRT program. Researching the RIT program further, he learned of the reputation of the program, including the extensive alumni network and impressive placement of graduates in meaningful jobs at major companies. This convinced Jinkai that his next move would be coming to the US to study at RIT in 2010.

At RIT, Jinkai went through the course sequence in the MS-PPRT program, which entails three academic semesters followed by thesis work. His coursework and thesis imparted the necessary skills that have helped Jinkai in his co-op experiences and subsequent career.

Jinkai names the STEM-based laboratory courses, which employ hands-on exercises that stress critical thinking and technical writing with the latest equipment as especially beneficial in his ensuing endeavors.

Jinkai took advantage of both Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) for paid co-op experiences. Both of his co-ops were on the print production side of the business, first at CSI in Virginia and then at The Matlet Group in Florida. His responsibilities included color management, managing job workflows, working in the pre-media department, and order handling.

After his co-op work, Jinkai joined the vendor side of the business with a technical applications job at Techkon USA, a major manufacturer of color measurement devices with offices near Frankfurt, Germany and Boston, MA. Among the award-winning products offered by Techkon USA are hand-held and scanning spectrodensitometers, quality assurance/ink formulation systems, and even a spectrophotometer designed for flexographic printing that measures traceable metrics on a web moving up to 300 meters per minute.

Jinkai supports Techkon’s customer base throughout North America for installations and on-site training and support. His responsibilities require regular travel to major printing companies throughout the region. In addition to supporting clients, Jinkai is regularly in touch with the software and hardware engineers in the corporate offices to make sure that the new products and updates meet the needs of North American printers. As such, Jinkai has been trained on the latest printing certifications, including as a G7 Expert, BrandQ Supply Chain expert, and Certified Color Management Professional by IDEAlliance.

Jinkai cites the key role of his RIT coursework in obtaining his current position. He believes that this helped him to secure the job over several other candidates, and stands as a testament to the relevance of the curriculum.

When asked if he meets RIT alumni in his work, he responds: “All the time! I meet RIT alumni at both production facilities and trade shows: RIT graduates work in the knowledge-based positions…in both production management and upper management positions…they are the most knowledgeable about color, printing, and pre-media applications, as well as the graphic production workflow.”

Today, Jinkai lives with his wife and young son in the Boston suburbs and is pursuing US-resident status, intending to stay long-term. Jinkai recognizes that his job at Techkon USA, obtained as a result of his STEM-based Master of Science in Print Media degree from RIT, is integral to his aspirations.

Read more about RIT’s MS in Print Media on our program website here. 

#myRITstory – RIT Alumnus Nodirjon Siddikov

Nodirjon Siddikov

RIT Program: Computer Science MS, 2011

Software Development, Travelfusion, London, UK

“RIT education contributed significantly towards my career. For example, it helped me establish professional networks, unfolded the career path ahead of me through on-site job fairs and company meetups, and also increased my confidence during job interviews through coding exercises and on-site mock interviews organized through RIT’s co-op office. While I was studying CS, I concentrated on distributed systems cluster and carried out a research about applying a data structure called “bloom filter” in cooperative caching algorithms. I decided to go extra mile, and presented and published my research paper in academic conference in Las Vegas the following year.”

Read more about Nodirjon’s experience here, on the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Exchange Programs website.

Nodirjon will be representing RIT today (Friday, September 27th) and tomorrow (Saturday, September 28th) at the Fulbright Commission USA College Day 2019 in London, UK!

4th of July Events in Rochester!

by Rashmi Jeswani, Information Sciences and Technologies MS student

Who doesn’t love the Fourth of July? Hot dogs, parades, corn hole, and fireworks – what more could you want? Luckily, here in the Rochester area, we’ve got plenty of fun things to do on the Fourth that will have you feeling festive all day. Here is a list of 10 great events you could go to with friends and family!

The Town of Chili’s Annual Fourth of July Chil-E Festival

Perfect for people of all ages, there’s no shortage of things to do at the Chil-E Festival. They have everything from crafts and food vendors to a car show, plus a parade and fireworks show at 10 PM!

Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures Fourth of July BBQphoto-1496905583330-eb54c7e5915a

If you’re looking for something a little bit removed from the usual Independence Day traditions, look no further! Bristol Mountain’s Aerial Adventures lets you climb around on their obstacles in the treetops, and then you can go back down to the ground to enjoy free hot dogs and refreshments. They even have kids’ courses, so it’s great for people of all ages to have a blast!

 

 

 

Canandaigua Fourth of July Celebration at Kershaw Park

This celebration right on the water is great for a relaxing Fourth of July! There’s a parade in the morning, followed by a community picnic, live music, and, of course, the night is topped off with fireworks. Plus, you can hang out at the beach all day right on Canandaigua Lake, which is always a plus!

Irondequoit Fourth of July Festival

The Irondequoit Festival has a truly impressive amount of events and activities on not just the Fourth, but on the night before as well! You can go to the arts and crafts show, watch street dancers, run in a 10K or 2-mile race, pitch horseshoes, go to a naturalization ceremony, or any other number of activities. As with any good Fourth of July Festival, it all ends with a fireworks display!

Brighton Fourth of July Celebration

There are few feelings better than stuffing yourself with pancakes after a good 5K race, and luckily, Brighton’s celebrations let you do just that! Then, afterward, you can hang out at Meridian Centre Park for food, games, a show by the Skycoasters, and fireworks!

Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration in Greece

We’re in no shortage of 5K races in our area this Fourth of July! You can run this one in Greece at 7:30 AM to avoid the heat, then come back in the evening for performances by Josie Waverly and Orleans before the fireworks!

Town of Henrietta July Fourth Celebration

You can celebrate right here in Henrietta! During the first half of the day, there will be a community sale, then the main celebration starts at 4 PM in the Veterans Memorial Park, leading up to fireworks just after sunset!

sparklers-828570_1280.jpg

Fairport Fourth of July Parade and Party in the Park

If a 5K isn’t quite far enough for you, check out the Firecracker Four Mile Race in Fairport. Afterward, enjoy a party in Perinton Park, with a parade, live music, food, and a bouncy house!

Fourth of July Celebration in Downtown Rochester

Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without the Celebration in Downtown Rochester! At 7:30 PM, Paul C. Boutte, and the Motown Review will perform, followed by our very own Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Ward Stare. Then at 10 PM, there will be a spectacular firework show!

Series: A Graduate Student’s Guide (On-Campus Jobs)

by Rashmi Jeswani, Information Sciences and Technologies MS student

I thought of starting a series called ‘A Graduate Student’s Guide’ that will include individual blogs about finding on-campus jobs, looking for a co-op, and several more! The first one in the series is ‘A Graduate Student’s Guide to finding on-campus jobs’!

After I paid my $300 deposit last summer and decided that RIT was the perfect place for me, I began to explore the numerous resources and opportunities that the university had to offer. After some research, I stumbled upon ‘Handshake’: the online job portal for the university that lists details about the various on-campus jobs as well as internships and co-op listings. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a listing called the ‘Graduate Liaison’ at the Graduate Enrollment Office offering a great working environment and decent pay; I immediately applied for the job knowing that it was only a few months that I arrive at the university and had an interview scheduled for as soon as I came to the country. All this prior research helped me in landing one of the best on-campus jobs which have massively helped me take care of my personal expense whilst pursuing my masters.

A lot of people ask me about the best ways a student can find and land good on-campus jobs; this blog talks about the different ways one can look for jobs on campus and the several jobs available on campus that best suits their interests and helps take care of financial liabilities as an international student.

Research on Handshake 

Handshake is RIT’s online job portal. Almost 90% of the employers on campus post job listings on the portal where the students have to upload their resume as well as other requested documents. These students are then shortlisted by employers and contacted for further interviews. Employers actively post job listings on the portal hence if one has to look for the best jobs on campus, Handshake is your go-to portal.

It is a simple but powerful search tool and alert system that helps students find the best fit for jobs (on as well as off campus) and internships posted by 300,000 companies, non-profits, and government organizations.

Visit this link to access Handshake. (Please note that the portal is only accessible to students after they have paid their $300)

Dining Services 

RIT Catering manages tons of events both on and off-campus and they are always looking for people who are friendly, punctual, and ready to help bring food and drinks to some of the most exclusive RIT events! Lots of the events that RIT Catering handles take place on campus for art gallery openings, club and organization meetings, and even the annual president’s ball which gives you an awesome chance to meet new people ranging from faculty in some of RIT’s academic colleges all the way up to RIT’s current president! Catering also is responsible for lots of the food at the RIT hockey games so chances are that landing a job here means you will get to watch lots of games for free! Dining Services offers the most number of jobs on campus and they are relatively easier to land. Students can look for postings on Handshake or simply visit a dining facility and ask for open positions.

Note Taking

Because RIT shares a campus with NTID (the National Technical Institute for the Deaf), many classes will require a designated Note Taker for some of our deaf or hard of hearing students. People need to be very reliable for this position because you are not allowed to miss any classes. This person, normally a student, clocks in before their classes, takes notes on the lecture, submits the notes, and then clocks out. Because note takers work during their class time, you end up feeling like you are being paid to go to class and if you already take good notes then this might be the perfect job for you!

Teaching/Research/Graduate Assistants

After their first semesters at the university, a majority of graduate students end up finding graduate/teaching/research assistantships under their professors that provide them exposure working with experienced people in the industry or gives them an opportunity to research in their field of interest. These jobs offer a fixed stipend or tuition waiver opportunities and are one of the favorite on-campus jobs for students that look impressive on the resume as well.

Each department offers a certain number of graduate assistantships to the students at the start of the fall semester. Teaching and Research Assistantships are offered by particular professors and they are to be approached directly.

I ended up finding a Lab Assistant opening at the Information Sciences and Technologies department through a friend who was graduating that semester. Through his recommendation, I was able to bag an interview with the Head Systems Administrator for the department and ended up getting the job. Recommendations work wonders when finding any kind of job (whether on campus or off campus) and one should always be on the lookout for such opportunities through friends, colleagues or mentors.

Peer Advisor Leaders/Student Government/Global Union Ambassador

Several students organization at RIT like the International Student Services, Global Union and the Student Government offer several part-time opportunities to the students interested in being a part of such organizations. The ISS offers the positions of graduate assistants and Peer Advisor Leaders (PALS) that offer their services during the orientation period and help incoming students with a smooth transition into the university and the life in the US. Global union ambassadors perform similar duties year-long on campus. Student government offers certain positions as well (eg. the graduate senator) to students interested in holding a certain amount of power and responsibility among the student body. Listings for these jobs are sent out through emails and special postings on-campus groups or handshake.

Best and quietest places to study on campus

Throughout your time at RIT, you will be searching for quiet and private places to study and complete your projects. I mean, let’s be honest, when it comes to studies the majority of us tend to get distracted a lot. Also, I don’t want some random guy to stare at my computer in a cafe and come to the conclusion that I am pitiful at coding, I mean that’s what I have my TAs and graders for. So, therefore, during my first two semesters at RIT, I went on a hunt to find the quieter and calmer places on campus for a proper study session.

You might wonder, “Wait! Hold up their sparky! Isn’t the library exactly the place for this ?”. Well, the first and second floors of the library are kind of noisier because they are meant for discussion and group studies. Although the third and fourth floors are designated quiet floors, they get filled up very fast and if you are looking for a private place and quiet place to immerse yourself in studies or complete your assignments with the least distractions, you would need to get a spot in the library very early in the mornings. Also with the rumors that the fourth floor of the library is going to be converted into an office, the traffic on the third floor might increase significantly. As someone who is always on the hunt for quieter and warmer places to study at RIT, I bring to you my top 5 picks on the same:

  1. Third and Fourth floors of Wallace Library: I know, I know! After just stating that the library sees a lot of traffic, I post it as my first pick. You might call me a hypocrite, but come on, it’s called a library for godsakes, it has to be somewhere in the picks. Here’s the deal, if you are going to spending long hours, the third and at least temporarily, the fourth floors are the best places to be. The hardest part of using the third and fourth floor is not the noise level but is about getting your spot. My advice would be to go to the third floor at least an hour before lunchtime. I usually prefer the north wing of the third floor that faces Gleason Circle. It’s the least distractive, and the most spacious. Also, the best part is that the library has rollable couches, which you can just drag your and get comfy. There is an unsaid rule about the quiet floors of the library, people would try their not to sit on a table if it’s already occupied. This means, if you get a table, you are most likely to get the entire table for yourself, at least for the majority of the time.  The fourth floor is, even more, quieter than the third but is less spacious. You can, of course, book a study room, but they have time limits and therefore, not suited for long hours.  Another understood law of the library is that the more floors you climb, the quieter it gets.

    North Wing, 3rd Floor of Wallace Library

  2.  Golisano Institute for Sustainability: Ah yes! The best building at RIT in terms of aesthetics: modern look, orange tinge, huge building, but you what’s even better? You could barely find more than 20 people in the whole building for the most part of the day. Looking for a quiet place to do a phone interview? This building is a godsend for that. Unlike the third and fourth floors of the library, where you would need to minimize your talks, this place offers a huge advantage. You can talk more freely and it’s always quiet, sometimes so quiet that you might hear echoes. Also, not to forget the beautiful terrace garden.

    The spacious Sustainability building, RIT

  3. Crossroads after 8 pm: This is my favorite place at this moment. I, sometimes, prefer it more than the library. It has that mild music in the background, food, very spacious, open till and after 7 PM, one of the most peaceful environments on campus to complete your assignments. It’s crazy because it’s actually very spacious and you would not find a place to even sit during lunch time as it will be packed with people, but it gradually gets better as we move towards evening.  Love it especially because you can grab a bite anytime you want.

    Crossroads at night

  4. Institute Hall: Another place close to the sustainability building. Haven’t spent a huge amount of time over here. The third floor is the quietest. I found the place completely by accident, one of my seniors told me to go to the sustainability building to study, though this place was the building, got lost, which was quite embarrassing considering the fact that I was with my crush and half the building was made of glass and literally, transparent and eventually got to the third floor only to find out the next day that it wasn’t the sustainability building.
  5. Lounge at the James E. Booth building: To be honest, the entire building 7 which is made of Booth 7B and Gannet 7A are calm places most of the days. I haven’t personally spent a lot of time in either of these places but was recommended by a senior. I used to go there for the chess club and sometimes found it to be eerily quiet.

Now, there are more places on campus like the Orange Hall which also have lower decibel levels, but I haven’t had sufficient experience with these places to recommend them. Also, there places in the SAU and GCCIS, but they are pretty inconsistent because of the possibility of university events occurring at these places. I don’t want you to plan a study session over there only to find out that it’s packed with people at which point you decide to add me to your hit list (too much movie nights for me).

Bonus: Looking for a place to nap? Fear not, the student government has got you covered, with an exclusive map which also gives you a measurement of quietness. You could convert these places to study as well, but the one problem is that some of these places have a lower number of ports or a higher number of students snoring.

Now, all the places mentioned above are from my own experience. If you believe, they are not as quiet as I mentioned, I recommend the below solution:

 

The Idealab experience

IdeaLab is a program available to all graduate students, is designed to connect problems and challenges with technical and creative problem solvers from all over the RIT Community. The teams are formed by enthusiastic innovative-thinker students from multidisciplinary expertise (technology, engineering, science, computing, design, business and communications) to solve unique problems faced by organizations or institutions such as Al Sigl Community of Agencies, Rochester Regional Health and others.

The students spend one weekend designing innovative solutions for specific problems identified by the participating organizations. Each team works under the guidance of an RIT faculty member, as a coach, and a sponsoring administrator. Design Thinking is the core tool highly encourage by the coaches in the event to be use to solve the problems. As we know, Design thinking is a powerful resource to be able to came up with innovative solutions. The main purpose of the event is to give the students the practice that they need before graduation and help them to understand the importance of developing ideas that are appropriate for the target market, that are feasible with the technology available and that ultimately solve the problem successfully and effectively. At the end of the event (Sunday afternoon), the teams present their innovative approaches for the project to their sponsor.

IDEALAB Spring 2019

This event happens every semester at the RIT Innovation Center and it was created by Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.This next fall, pay close attention to your email account and look for the invitation to participate to this event. Idealab is a unique and valuable opportunity for students to gain experience, to work in teams with people from other disciplines than their own and to put their knowledge to work on concrete real-life problem with a real-life client. Successful projects may then be expanded into ongoing student research projects that develop product and service prototypes, and potentially new businesses. After the presentation day, the project sponsor evaluates and decides which project is the one to be moving forward. Also, students could take classes and get credits for them on their colleges. As well as the sponsor could recruit some students for coops to continue with the projects.

In previous IdeaLab events, students have employed their conceptual solutions, prototypes, and interaction with real outside sponsors to develop their portfolios, resumes and applications to graduate schools. Some projects have gone on to earn course credit in Applied Entrepreneurship and learn their potential to become a start-up business.

https://www.rit.edu/affiliate/rrh/idealab

source: https://www.rit.edu/research/simonecenter/idealab

myRITstory- Kaushal Nagar

For this blog post, I decided to cover the RIT story of one of my close friends, Kaushal, who is a true representation of how RIT provides a base for student success with its abundant resources and opportunities through perseverance and discipline. 

Kaushal came to RIT in the fall of 2017 as a Masters student in Computer Engineering from the city of Mumbai and this is what he has to say about his experience at RIT and what he thinks makes the university so special for him.

What did you do for your bachelors back home and when did you decide to pursue your masters?

‘I did my bachelors back in Mumbai in Electronics and Telecommunications. I was intrigued by the concepts of microcontrollers and their functionalities which made me study that more. In due course of time, I was fascinated by the concept of embedded systems and concept of automated remote data acquisition. I dived more into the subject when I started writing a research paper on ‘Automated vehicle surveillance and security’. With a mind fixed to explore the horizons of embedded computing and IoT, I started my application process.’

Why did you decide to come to RIT and what do you love most about it?

‘I decided to come to RIT on account of it’s rich and reputed co-op program coupled with the vast range of subjects offered by the CE department in the domain of embedded systems computing, computer architecture and multiple processor systems. The flexibility and independence to undertake an independent study is something that further excited me to come to RIT. Further, the very idea of being benefited by the guidance of esteemed professors at RIT reinstated my desire to come to RIT.

I like the sense of independence and responsibility that is given to the students when undertaking any course. The flexibility to choose courses as per our interests and the choice to communicate with the professors personally if need be (in regards to course content, approach towards the course, independence while taking the course). The rich co-op program at RIT excites me no bounds.’

Tell me something about what you are doing at RIT?

‘My program is MS in CE. A combination of understanding the hardware and software aspects of various system. My focus is on embedded systems and IoT and real-time computing. I am keenly passionate regarding the interfacing and operations of different softwares (programs) on hardware platforms and their behaviors. This motivated me to take the CE program. The new innovations induced in the h/w-s/w industry due to the advent of IoT makes it all the more interesting to be a part of this field. CE department allows to take courses from multiple disciplines of engineering to hone our skills. I have been taking the Real Time and Embedded Systems course for over a year now. I owe my development in this domain and skills acquired to the amazing professors at RIT.’

Have you done any co-ops while you were here and what are some of your future goals after you graduate from the university?

‘I did my co-op at MKS Instruments, Rochester. I was a part of the Advanced Development Group. I learnt to learn quickly and implement new technology to existing technologies. I learnt to adapt, learn and improve independently. It is a semiconductor industry motivated company. I learned a plethora of new technologies, skills and methodologies there. I had merely heard that engineering these days is cross disciplinary, at MKS, I experienced this and learnt to implement my engineering skills accordingly in a much more robust way. I got to deal with different platforms and OS on board. I took assignments by myself and contributed to the MKS team. I learnt to back myself and take initiative. The technical skills that I acquired at MKS is something that I will always be grateful for. I developed the mentality of an aggressive, multi-disciplinary engineer and learnt to lead by example by taking initiatives. This was an experience of a lifetime for me.

In a few years, I intend to apply my engineering skills developed at RIT at a fortune 100 company by being actively involved in research and development at the institution in the capacity of a technical lead.’

 

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!