First Semester in Review

by Imran Mahmood, MBA student

As a student who has not set foot in a classroom in two years it was a very jarring experience to be in a classroom again. It was even more nerve wracking considering I studied English and not business during my undergrad years. I had no idea what to expect. I had all of these thoughts racing through my mind: “this is the real deal,” “this is going to be tougher than undergrad,” “the professors are going to be unforgiving and strict.” As you can see, I was very nervous on my first day. However, my thoughts and what graduate was really like, could not be more different. First off, the professors have been great this semester. They have been accommodating, kind, and very knowledgeable.I have had a great experience this semester and there are so many reasons I can attribute it to. I’ve met great people, made friends, connected with professors, and learned a great deal. Don’t get me wrong, it is a lot of work. There were a lot of late nights and a lot of frustration but it was all worth it.

In my MBA program I have learned so much about business that I can hardly believe that I’ve only studied for one semester. Before this semester, I would have told you that accounting is something that I would never do. But that changed after this semester, I am taking an accounting class with Professor Pellegrino and I learned that accounting isn’t the number-crunching, soul-sucking experience that I thought it would be. I had no idea that debits and credits could be so much fun! I am also taking an intro to marketing course with Professor Dwyer and it made me even more interested in marketing than I was before. Lastly, my business ethics and organizational behavior courses are taught by the same professor, Professor Barbato. His classes have been an otherworldly experience for me. He keeps you engaged and entertained as he dissects case studies and then connects them psychological studies or classic philosophers.

As you can tell, I have really enjoyed my first semester of graduate school. Despite the constant barrage of reading, homework assignments, projects, and exams this has been a fun and rewarding experience. I have grown a lot through my experiences in graduate school. I have met people from the Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya just to name a few countries. I have learned about positioning statements and balance sheets. Before the start of this semester those words were just jargon to me and now I use those words almost daily. It’s crazy to think that just a few months ago I was an excited and extremely nervous student starting graduate school. Now, I am someone that almost has semester under his belt and ready for the next one.

More Than A Capstone

by Mudit Pasagadagula, Electrical Engineering MS student 

A fact for everything is that there is a start and there is an end. At least that’s what our biologically evolved logic tells us. That also happens with a student enrolled in a graduate program too. A lot of times it ends with some creative works graduate students come up with, the capstone project. It is a wonderful way to complete a graduate degree.

Working on something new, designing something amazing, coming up with a new theory or a possible explanation of some physical phenomenon and other similar things done in a final project sure sounds interesting but they are what projects are meant for. But signing up for a capstone project offers us more opportunities of learning than we think it does. There are many hidden perks of working on a project.

One of these opportunities is being friends with you adviser. It is always nice to know people and learn what they have offered this world. What I’ve learnt till now from my graduate school experience is that every professor is a unique knowledge offering machine with learnings that you cannot find anywhere else. It is a great experience working under a professor. But the most amazing part of it is the vision and attitude you develop towards life. And this happens through listening to a few of the countless anecdotes from their life, knowing about the decisions they made, getting aware of their curiosities and learning how they approached it.

If you are the physical body of your academic work, your adviser is the soul of it. And when these two things get along in a constructive way, amazing things can be achieved.

My first co-op experience in the US

by Krishna Tippur Gururaj, Computer Science MS student 

I had taken a break from my professional life to move to the US for grad school back in 2016. Back then, it had been a big change for me to get back to books, assignments, tests, and grades. Well, the summer of 2018 was quite a momentous one for me because I was given a chance to go back to working, albeit temporarily. As an international student, I had known that getting work experience in the US would be an invaluable step in my career.

HomeAway at The Domain, Austin, TX

So I was thrilled when I got a chance this year to go on a summer co-op at HomeAway, a vacation rental marketplace company based out of Austin, TX. My focus area during my Computer Science grad program has been Distributed Systems and I could not believe my luck when I got an opportunity to intern as part of HomeAway’s cloud engineering team. I was super excited to be moving to a new city, and equally nervous to be going back to working in a professional environment.

Just another cool spot in the office

After the initial excitement of getting the offer sunk in, I started to look at housing options. I knew I had to work with certain restrictions, i.e. easy commute, short-term lease. HomeAway’s recruitment team helped me get in touch with other incoming interns which was really helpful and made my housing search simple.

After a fast-paced yet informative two-week training program in which I was given overviews of the company vision, the various technologies that were used, and some hands-on on the same, I joined the Digital Infrastructure team in the Cloud Engineering department. The team was friendly and I found my colleagues to be approachable and helpful. I learned a lot and got to experience first-hand how stuff that I have studied about in grad school actually gets implemented in real-world scenarios.

Midway through the summer, HomeAway had organized a hackathon called InternHackATX, through which they intended to get interns from all over (internal and external to HomeAway) to come together for a weekend of bouncing ideas off of each other to solve a problem related to group travel. Three fellow interns and I ended up finishing 2nd overall for proposing a solution to intelligently bring structure to a group conversation between friends planning a vacation. It was an amazing experience and something that I had never done before!

First runners-up at InternHackATX 2018 (after about 3 hours’ sleep in 48 hours)

Before I knew it, it was time to wrap up my intern project, present it to a company-wide audience, and head back to Rochester. It was a bittersweet moment when I was leaving since I really liked living in Austin and partly because I had to get back to books. Anyway, it was a wonderful experience and I am glad I had the chance to learn and become more responsible.

Does having a Master’s Degree from RIT helps you get a full time job?

by Anthony Gutierrez, Mechanical Engineering ME student

Founded in 1829, the Rochester Institute of Technology has the fourth-oldest and one of the largest cooperative education programs in the world, annually placing more than 4,400 students in nearly 6,300 co-op assignments with nearly 2,300 employers across the United States and overseas.

But, you might be thinking: What is a co-op? Cooperative education (co-op) is the most extensive and intensive of RIT’s experiential education opportunities. Co-op is full-time, paid work experience directly related to your course of study and career interests.

Ok, so now you might be thinking: how does having a co-op experience helps me find a full time job? One thing students won’t have when they graduate from RIT is a padded resume. Think about this, once you graduate, not only will you have degree, but also real, paid work experience!

Also, RIT helps you through all the process of getting a Co-op experience and a full time job. Have you ever played Super Mario and got a special start that helps you go through all the difficult obstacles? Well, The Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education is exactly that! From helping you redact your resume to prepare you for interviews, this department goes above and beyond when it comes to providing all kind of resources to help you achieve your professional goals.

Still have doubts? Well, you can check the Salary and Program Data. This data has been gathered from RIT co-op students and graduates by the RIT Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education, and it will tell you not only how much money students make after graduation on full time jobs, but also how many students get full time jobs after graduation.

 

#myRITstory – Venkatesh Deenadayalan

Graduate Program – Microelectronic Engineering MS 

From Chennai, India, Venkatesh has been studying at RIT since the fall of 2017. He currently serves as a research and teaching assistant for the Microelectronic Engineering program under Dr. Robert Pearson (Electrical and Microelectronic Engineering Department) and Dr. Stefan Preble (Microsystems Engineering Department.)

His research is focused on realizing thermo-optic tuning of silicon waveguides using metal heaters. This will entirely be an in-house fabrication (within RIT’s clean room –  Semiconductor and Microsystems Fabrication Laboratory) and the goal is to include the process as part of the 2019 – MCEE 789/ MCSE 889 Photonic Integrated Circuits curriculum which will enable students to integrate the fabrication of active photonic components with the existing passive devices.

Have questions? (Don’t worry, we do too!) You can learn more about Venkatesh’s research group, the RIT Integrated Photonoics Group on their website. 

You can also research the curriculum and admissions requirements of our Microelectonics Engineering MS and Microsystems Engineering PhD programs on our website via the links below:

Microelectronic Engineering MS

Microelectronics Manufacturing Engineering ME 

Microsystems Engineering PhD 

Afraid RIT might be too difficult? Don’t be! RIT has your back.

by Anthony Gutierrez, Mechanical Engineering ME student

Students have a variety of resources available to them during their time at RIT. Once you start your program, each department has a Welcome Meeting, in which not only they welcome you to RIT and your Master’s Program, but also give you all the tools and resources you might need during your journey.

Advisors frequently refer students to the following RIT resources:

Academic Support Center at RIT: The mission of this center is to assist and empower students to achieve academic success by academic coaching; individual and group tutoring; workshops; classes; and presentations that help develop the necessary skills to achieve your academic goals. Feel free to check out their website for more information.

Wallace Center: Home to the Wallace Library, the Writing Commons, and the RIT American Sign Language and Deaf Studies Community Center (RADSCC), is centrally located on campus and a perfect space for study, collaboration, and relaxation.  With a schedule of open 24 hours during weekdays and 12 hours during weekends, The Wallace Center is the perfect place to do all your homework and research. For more information about all the resources offered by the Wallace Center (like borrowing a laptop, books, calculators, etc.)

University Writing Commons: The RIT Writing Commons provides writing support for students of all levels and in all disciplines. With a staff by of professional writing consultants and undergraduate peer writing consultants from various disciplines, they provide both individualized and group feedback and guidance on academic and professional writing at any stage of the writing process. Writing consultants can support a variety of writing projects, from research papers to lab reports. Feel free to check out their website for more information.

Teaching Assistant (TA): A teaching assistant or teacher’s aide (TA) is an individual who assists a teacher with instructional responsibilities. Usually these individuals are students who already took the class and did very well on it. Their job is not only to grade your homework, but also help you with any doubts about the class. Think about this: what better person to help you with a class than someone who already took it and did very well on it?

Professor’s office hours: RIT has a policy in which they state that each professor must offer office hours outside from the regular class hours, so they can offer a more individual orientation in any doubts the students might have. At the beginning of each semester, all of your professors will give the schedule of their office hours so you can know what time you can go and ask all your questions. Although these office hours have a limited time frame, most of the professor have an open door policy, which means that you can go to their offices and ask your questions any time you want.

Five Reasons Why: US Education

by Abhisek Dey, Computer Engineering MS student

If you are expecting this blog to be another clichéd post raving about how advanced, revolutionary, and state-of-the-art higher education in the US is – it is not. It is meant to be a dissection of my experiences outside the classroom for the better part of a year that has led me to morph into a better person. Most international students come here for a world-class education and some want to stay back for the proverbial cherry-picked life and the fat paychecks. I came here for the same reasons too but if I do decide to stay here, it would be for the great people around me, diversity in ideas, freedom to express myself in every way and the opportunity to make a noteworthy difference in the lives of everyday people. Now, let’s dive in.

Decisiveness – In my opinion, the most important quality that I could acquire. It taught me to always be open to a new train of thought and never be afraid to try new things. We are only limited by our fears and tactless indecision. Try out a new sport – something you have never seen before. Try out an exotic cuisine. If you like it, try to make it yourself. See how far you can push yourself.

Break those walls – Appreciating everyone for who they are and acknowledging that there is always a bigger picture to everything. If you really want to be a well-rounded person, understanding why some people or somethings work differently than you are accustomed to would be the first step. Never be afraid to initiate a conversation with someone totally different from you. You might find you have so many things to talk about over a nice cold beer! The only thing worse than failure is never trying.

Respect and equality – Treat others the way you want to be treated. Everyday out here reinforces this idea in me. You will never be singled out for what you decide to wear, eat, talk about or who you love. Race, age, occupation, sexual orientation, special challenges are a way to divide us rather than bring us together. I have had the privilege to meet and interact with deaf and blind students at RIT and they are without a doubt some of the toughest nuts I have ever seen and a great company.

Circle of life – We are merely travelers passing through this realm and this world is what we make out of it. I always try to stand out, take on new roles and do not shy away from challenges. The fact that I’m an engineering grad student and penning this piece is enough to prove it! Being a go-getter is much more rewarding than it seems and this place has instilled the belief in me.

Humility – Ever wondered what the creator of a facial detection algorithm in our phone cameras is like in real life? Just like any of us – loves listening to 80’s music, enjoys Chinese food and owns a 2014 Honda Civic. Being humble is truly a virtue that does not take a lot of effort to master. It makes people instantly like us and this kind of also stems from the fact that everyone here is deemed to be on the same pedestal.

If you have made it this far, I am grateful and hope you could relate to some of your own experiences reading it. If not, there’s no better time to start a new journey! Visit an art museum, learn rock climbing, dive into a crazy research problem. Knock yourself out. Make some headway in the circle of life. We miss a 100% of the shots we don’t take!

 

Between the Hours: Dealing with graduate school

by Abhisek Dey, Computer Engineering MS student

Whether you are contemplating grad school, about to begin a new program, or already there, this post is for you. It is about the place where one discovers his true self through an exhausting journey of successes and failures which often brings many to their tipping points. But, in the words of Nelson Mandela, “A winner is a dreamer who never gives up”.

Deciding to pursue a graduate education is an important step as we have to ask ourselves many questions – is it really the best way forward for me, am I ready to spend the next 2 years or more working on really specific problems? Does the research track enthuse me to work tirelessly on it? Is the advisor I am looking to work under a good fit? Even after we plan ahead, enter grad school and take the beast head on, it does become overwhelming and impossible sometimes to break off the vicious circle. During these times, it is important to remember subtle things like staying focused and time management which prove as invaluable tools to tame the beast.

Just one of those days…

The worst enemy of any grad student is procrastination. Time and again, we find ourselves in a position where we have to complete our thesis proposal, devote hours for teaching assistant duties, complete assignments and projects for the courses, and work on publishing a paper for a research conference all together. Though sometimes, it is not entirely a student’s lackluster work ethic, most times it invariably is. We love to live under a delusion that our responsibilities are trivial and can be done in no time. Closer to our deadlines, we come to terms with reality and make our lives a mess. Eating at regular intervals, maintaining personal hygiene and completing daily chores go out the window!

Appreciating baby steps is a proven motivator!

Having said that, a grad life is rigorous and challenging. Managing a healthy work-life balance becomes increasingly complicated, more so for PhD’s. Discovering a favorite past-time or hobby becomes more essential than ever, just to blow off some steam. Be it watching Netflix or playing a random instrument – trust me, you would need  it. Also, never hesitate to ask for help/advice when you need some. You have to always find solace and encouragement from the fact that many around you have endured the same phase that you are going through. At least at RIT, help is always one email away!

 

On-campus vs Off-campus Housing at RIT

by Ami Patel, Computer Science MS student

This is an important debate for new students and especially those who aren’t from the Rochester area. There are so many factors and facilities that play a role while finalizing the housing. As someone who has lived both on and off campus here, I feel my perspective can help you out a little. So here are key factors and comparisons of how the options defer.

First thing, what do I describe as on-campus? Any housing communities owned by RIT, whether on campus (Riverknoll, Colony Manor, Perkins Green, Greek Housing, Residence Halls) or situated few miles away from RIT (there are two in this case which is The Racquet Club and RIT Inn). Also, there are two other privately owned communities on the RIT campus. The rest of the housing options I mention in this blog are off-campus accommodations.

Now that we have outlined the terminology, let’s jump to different factors. It always starts with the cost. Rent for the on-campus resident halls and apartments range from $500-$1000/month per person. You can check the rates for individual options here. It’s difficult to draw a line for off-campus options, but I will say you will generally find this between $300-$700/month per person.

Next thing that follows is the privacy – shared or private bedroom. You will find both options at both the places but off-campus tends to be cheaper for both the options. You will also need to consider the cost of transportation. For some cases, with transportation costs, it might cost same as on-campus.

So that brings us to the commute factor. All the on-campus options have access to the RIT Shuttle services, which run from 7ish am till 1:30ish am. Some of the off-campus options are connected to RIT through the city bus transport or by their own private bus to RIT. If you have our own car, off-campus options get much better. Public city bus transport costs $1 for each trip regardless of the distance.

Furnished vs unfurnished – Of course, furnished ones will be on the pricer side. It will be cheaper to furnish on your own than paying that extra money every month for a furnished option. If it’s off-campus, unfurnished is more idea and cheaper.

Well, the last one is quite abstract – amenities. If you are living on-campus all the RIT resources are accessible all the time. Off-campus apartment communities will have some kind of amenities, but, if it’s a private house, there won’t be any. For more resources, you will have to come to the campus.

From my experiences, I feel off-campus is cheaper and a good option if you have your own car or if you are okay with the commute time. On-campus is more convenient for people who prefer better & quicker access to the campus, not plan on having a car or aren’t used to the type of weather Rochester has.

Also, I would like to add how to go house hunting. For on-campus options, you can check here. For off-campus options, it will be best to join RIT Housing group on Facebook. Once you have shortlisted options based on your preferences, you can proceed with the application. In some cases, you will need to find your own roommates, which, you can find on the Facebook group mentioned here. The best time to finalize housing is June & July for Fall semester and November-December for Spring semester.

Thank you for reading through this and I hope this article provided a better outlook on the dilemma. You can leave a message here if you have more questions.

What is a Co-op?

Picture from my Co-op during Summer 2016

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

“What is a Co-op?” is probably one of the most frequent questions I get from prospective students so I thought I should be writing a short article explaining what exactly is this word Co-op that RIT staff and students use a lot. Co-operative Education or as we love to call it, Co-op, is similar to an internship that can be done during the academic semesters (Fall or Spring) and is a practical experience that add values to your degree and can be done anywhere in the world. It is the best way to get your foot in the door of your favorite company and also gives you a great experience.

For an opportunity to be considered as co-op it should be full time (35 hours or more per week), paid, and relevant to your field of study. Employers love the co-op program at RIT because it gives them a chance to assess a student’s skill set before they offer them a full-time position at the company. Students love the co-op program because they get to do the same work as a full-time employee and sometimes even pitch new product ideas, which adds great value to the company. One of the perks of being an RIT student is that unlike many schools that require their students to pay for certain credit hours to be registered for a co-op, RIT doesn’t ask its students to pay anything. RIT recognizes that this co-op brings a lot of value to the student and also helps them financially so they encourage their students to complete a co-op before graduating.

The Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education has absolutely the nicest people who are always there for students to help them prepare for their interviews, try to bring a lot of companies to the career fair for students to meet employers, review resumes and tons of other services. I personally have done one co-op and it was the best experience ever and was lucky enough to get a full time offer too. So to conclude this short article, a co-op in simple language is just an internship done during academic semesters.

More information can be found on RIT’s Career Services website.