#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.

My RIT Journey – A summary

by Anthony Gutierrez, Mechanical Engineering ME student

One and a half years ago I decided to follow a crazy dream, to come to the United States and pursue my master’s degree. If that’s not scary enough, I also decided to go to RIT, one of the top 100 universities in the nation. I’m not going to lie to you, I was a little scared when I arrived to RIT – those big brick buildings can be a little intimidating on the first sight. Luckily my fears started to disappear as soon as my classes started.

I can still remember my first day of class like if it was yesterday. The day before classes started, I was so nervous that I couldn’t sleep, and, because of that, I arrived late to my first class. I remember how my plan of keeping a low profile on the first days went down the toilet as soon as I opened the door of my classroom and everyone (including the professor) turned around to look at me. Luckily professor told me: “Don’t worry, it’s the first day” and everyone else just laughed.

Because I didn’t do my undergrad studies here in RIT (or in the US), I was afraid of not having the required level and being behind the rest of the class. Since day one, all my professors made me forget this fear. It’s amazing the level of care the professors have for their students here in RIT, and the accessibility that you as a student have towards them. There is no such thing as a “stupid question” for them, and you can go at any time during their office hours to ask all your doubts.

In terms of fitting into the RIT community, I can assure you that you’ll find your place in it. You can easily realize the amount of diversity in the campus by not just looking at the student population, but also hearing students speak multiple languages around the campus. Even though we are considered to be a university of “nerds” by many, you’ll find tons of fun activities to do in the campus each week and, joining any of the 100+ student clubs will help you make friends.

Throughout my three semesters in RIT I grew as a professional and I made friends from around the world. I gained core skills in my profession as a Mechanical Engineer, and I also gained real experience. During the summer I was able to do an internship with a company here in Rochester which helped me earn a lot of experience and some money too. And now that I’m reaching the end of my program, I found another internship in California with my dream company Apple.

If you are thinking about coming to RIT, I can assure that you won’t regret it! Don’t be afraid of crazy dreams, and don’t be afraid of failing. You are your own limitation, so if you want to reach the stars, simply don’t put any limitations in yourself 😀