#myRITstory – Venkatesh Thimma Dhinakaran

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

Program: Software Engineering MS, expected graduation May 2019

From: Chennai, India

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

Says Venkatesh about his work:

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

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

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

Time to Plan Your Summer Vacation!

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

With warmer weather fast approaching, summer is just around the corner. While preparing for the end of the semester final exams, students must also be thinking about plans for the summer. Would you like to fill your summer with travel? Or you’d like to take some summer courses to get some extra credit? Or maybe use it to gain some internship or job experience? Summer at RIT is 12 weeks long, and I’m here to give you some suggestions on how to make a fun and meaningful summer plan.

If you want to take some classes during the summer, RIT offers a wide range of subjects both on-campus and online, which means you can also go home and take the courses online. Studying abroad during the summer is also an exciting opportunity for some students. I personally think it’s the best time to experience a new country or place with new outlooks, customs and activities. You may check out Summer @ RIT and RIT Global for more information.

And if you are looking forward to working for the summer, the student employment office has some notes for you:

Students who meet the following criteria are eligible to work up to 40 hours per week during summer semester if the following criteria are met:

Must be matriculated, and registered full-time status Spring Semester AND at least one of the following:

  • Must be registered for at least 4 credit hours for summer session
  • Are registered for 0 credit hours for summer, but are registered for at least 3 credit hours for fall
  • Are registered for at least 3 credit hours for both summer and fall
  • Are registered for 0 credits for continuation of thesis for summer and/or fall that can be verified via STARS

And if you are doing a co-op program, you must be registered for co-op for summer session. Please check out the student employment office website for more information.

For those of you who are staying in Greater Rochester area, and who happen to be interested in some summer outdoor or indoor activities, here are some suggestions for you:

  • Roseland Water Park – a water park facilitated with a giant wave pool, adventure river, splash factory, tube slides and body slides, located in Canandaigua, NY.
  • Roseland Wake Park – the only Cable Wake Park system in the Northeast, with thrilling water board sports.
  • Corn Hill Arts Festival – a festival that exhibits an array of beautifully handcrafted art and crafts from over 300 artists from across the US and Canada.
  • Finger Lakes Chamber Music Festival – a music festival that stages a series of concert performances by outstanding local musicians.
  • The Taste of Rochester – a food festival that is designed to designed to get people and food purveyors together to get to know each other.

In addition, there are also bunch different activities listed on Rochester Events, make sure to check their website and plan ahead of time!

Hopefully, I have given you some idea about your summer vacation, if you still don’t have any plan in your mind. As for me, I will be traveling for a bit at the beginning of the break, and then heading to New York City to work for 10 weeks as a multi-media designer. I am super excited about the traveling and my internship opportunity, and I also hope that you could come up with an awesome plan to make the most of your summer!

MS Computer Science: Bridge courses

by Krishna Tippur Gururaj, Computer Science MS student 

Every year, one of the most common topics that is on an incoming MS-CS student’s mind at RIT is bridge courses. These are a set of three graduate level courses that the CS department requires every student to be well-versed with before proceeding with other graduate courses. They “bridge” the gap in knowledge.

These courses are in place because the department probably saw that a number of CS graduate students were not up to the mark when it came to fundamental programming skills. Nowadays, almost every admitted MS-CS student who has not obtained an undergraduate CS degree from a US university is required to complete these bridge courses.

The three courses are “Advanced Object Oriented Programming (using Java)”, “Computational Problem Solving (using Python)”, and “Foundations of Computer Science Theory”. If a student is assigned to any or all of these courses, the only way to let the department know that they already possess the technical skills offered in the course(s) is by taking up and passing the corresponding bridge waiver exams successfully. So if a student feels that they were assigned a particular course by mistake, they must take and pass the waiver exam(s).

These waiver exams are held on the day of the department orientation, are of 1 hour each in duration, and cover all the topics that would be taught in the course itself. The syllabus and timing of each exam can be found at https://cs.rit.edu/orientation/bridgeexams. The exams would be a combination of multiple-choice, short answer, medium answer, and long answer questions. They would test a student’s knowledge on the subject thoroughly.

I had a non-CS background coming in to the CS grad program here so I needed the bridge courses. In my experience, most students who took up the bridge courses felt like they benefited from the practice they got by solving the weekly assignments and studying for the midterms. The coursework of these courses definitely helped in my interview process.

Many incoming students would hear that these bridge courses are extremely difficult to clear. Although I did not take up the option of sitting for the waiver exams, I believe that one of the major reasons why a small number of students clear the waiver exams is because of the clear gap in knowledge and maybe the fact that most students end up either taking the waiver exams lightly or do not even turn up for them.

Every incoming student would love to clear one or more waivers since that would mean saving on the cost of those courses. However, I feel that by trying to clear all three in one go, students end up not doing well enough in any. Unless a student is extremely confident in their abilities and knowledge of a particular bridge course, I would honestly recommend students to pick and choose their strongest course and put all their efforts into clearing that.

The ‘American’ life: In the eyes of an international student

by Abhisek Dey, Computer Engineering MS Student 

What is the American life? I used to think it was utopia on Earth – the ever illusive ‘good life’. The kind of place where you turn off the lights and wake up to a perfect morning where all your problems have magically disappeared. Wading through the deceptively clear waters of a semester here has led me to realize how wrong I was. Stick around till the end while I describe an intriguing process of self-discovery and introspection.

It was on a freakishly cold day when I arrived in the land of the free and home of the brave. Being used to the other extreme of the temperature scale it was a surreal experience for someone who had never seen snow before. A 5 minute wait for a cab out in the open to take me to my apartment felt like ages. But I was still completely oblivious to what was in store for me. My heart kept telling me that the proverbial bling life was still to come.

Reaching my apartment, I was excited to meet the new roommates with whom I would be spending the winter with. I was starving after an exhausting journey but they said it would be another couple hours before food would be made. Without knowing how to get around town, I snacked on leftovers from my journey. Tired as I was, I had to clean up my room before I could get any kind of respite as the the guy from whom I subleased it left it in a mess. In a few days, reality dawned on me. Pampered since childhood with never having to worry about my own well-being for a second, I had to look after everything now. Some days were bearable while some days were not. Coming home weary-eyed and zoned out after a long day, you suddenly remember that it was your day to cook or do the dishes and you have an assignment due the next day which is still incomplete.

A picture worth a thousand words.

But as all dark clouds have a silver-lining, my story had one too. I had some of the most wonderful professors who guided me through every step of the way. Sometimes, we would engage in enriching conversations about my progress that not only helped me to focus on areas I was weak in but also develop a new perspective of the course. At times when I needed to blow off some steam, I would just drive off into the pristine countryside. Life is way different in smaller towns and ranches and feeling those vibes were just what I needed to recharge my batteries.

So, what exactly is the American life? Is it having all you ever wanted at your fingertips? Is it the peace of mind to never break a sweat about anything? To me it is the freedom to carve your own fate and be the master of your own destiny. The power to make your own choices and the undying spirit to see it through no matter the sacrifices. The unwavering grit to hold on to the values of mutual respect and inclusiveness despite the threats. As the Statue of Liberty says – “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”.

 

 

RIT’s Financial Wellness Conference

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

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

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