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

New to RIT: What to do next?

As intimidating as it is to arrive in a new country alone amidst new people, it is always important to keep a note of the primary things to get done before the Fall semester starts.

Here is a guide on every detail a new arriving student at RIT must follow before the start of classes:

Moving-in

If you are lucky enough to be traveling with companions split the cab expenses when you first arrive at the airport. The university runs shuttles a week prior to the start of classes from airport, train and the bus stations so that people arriving from all over the world do not have to go through the hassle of Uber and all that luggage and can safely arrive at the university.

A majority of the graduate student reside in several off-campus apartments near the university. Thanks to technology and the geniuses working at Uber, is it now easier to get a ride from any corner of the city. Also make sure to stalk up on the groceries the first week you are here and do not forget to explore the wonders that American supermarkets like Walmart, Wegmans, PriceRite etc. have to offer!

A great resource for new students to buy stuff for their homes is the Goodbye-Goodbuy Sale held in the Orientation week. The thrift sale contains every possible piece of item a student might ever need for extremely cheap prices.

New Student Orientation

The new student orientation provides important information of special interest to international students including:

  • Immigration Information on Maintaining Legal Status While in the U.S.
  • Employment in the U.S. (On and Off campus)
  • Health Care and Health Insurance
  • Cultural Adjustment
  • S. Tax Obligations
  • Safety Concerns
  • S. Social Security Numbers

The orientation is where a student receives information about the absolute life at RIT and in the city of Rochester. For international students, this is primary information session that briefs the students about the conduct and policies of the university and also provides the checklist of the tasks that need to be done after first arriving on campus.

  • The first and foremost thing that any new student should do is get their i20s signed from the office of International Student Services located in the Student Union. This marks that the student has successfully entered the university.
  • The second step would be to visit the Office of Registrar in the George Eastman building to get the official University ID Card. This card is useful while entering residence hall, labs, libraries, buying meals, for campus events, and more and is the primary identification when in the university.
  • The next step would be to head down to the Graduate Admissions Office to submit copies of your degree certificate and transcripts in the Bausch and Lomb Center.

The Orientation week is a great chance to finally get in touch with your PAL in person and learn more about the university and the events that are happening all over the campus. It is also a good time to start looking for on campus jobs (either in person or through handshake applications) before the start of classes.

The week before the classes also marks the RochesterGlobalConnection Welcome Picnic event held at one of the heritage spots in Rochester where new international students from UofR, RIT, MCC and Nazareth College come together for lunch engage in great activities and get to interact with the locals of the city.

Department Orientations are held separately by all colleges and provide specific information about the student’s program of interest, tours of the college, personal interaction with the faculty and advisors and provide more information about the classes and the college in general.

SSN

Every year ISS plans an entire day wherein the students are taken downtown to apply for their Social Security Numbers. The office also provides loads of instructions on how to apply for it, what all documents are needed to apply for it and any other documentation help that a student might need.

Tiger Walk & Ice Skating

One of the finest orientation events is the Tiger Walk held at the Quarter Mile in the university wherein new students all take a round of the entire university with the band playing and faculty and parents cheering the students all along the walk. It remarkably highlights the true spirit of the Tigers at RIT and also a fun way to explore the campus and meet new people!

Enjoy some Ice Skating at the Frank Ritter Ice Arena during orientation week. Public skate hours are available for members of the RIT community and the general public.

Resource Fair

The Resource Fair allows new students and their families to get their questions answered, meet with staff members, take care of business, and get information regarding the resources and services available at RIT and in the community. Students can also get mobile phone Sim cards, get their bank accounts set up and get loads of free goodies!!

Explore the campus

The Office of Graduate Education offers hour long, student-guided walking tours of the academic, athletic, and campus life facilities. They originate the Bausch and Lomb Center, #77 and can be arranged with advanced notice.

The Orientation Week is the most fun time on campus with the sun glistening and cheers all around the campus. Make sure to be on the lookout for emails from various departments and organizations for awesome orientation events on the campus all week long!

Good Luck!

IST Labs at GCCIS

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

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

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

The labs at the IST department are as follows:

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

  • SECURITY LAB

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

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

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

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

Last Minute Spring Break planning destinations

Spring break is an entire week to relax in the middle of the semester and if you are not behind on your assignments you deserve to treat yourself with a relaxing time. With a small or large budget, you should take advantage of the Rochester’s near locations to plan a trip or just enjoy what the city has to offer. Here are some popular spots for spring break:

New York City

Is a 5 hours trip in a car, but it totally worth it, especially if you haven’t been there yet. New York city is a popular spot to go on and off spring break but since you have several days off it makes it more ideal to go there and be able to enjoy it without having to rush your trip. I have been there twice for a few days and I want to come back to keep knowing more about this exciting city.

Brooklyn Bridge

A lot people know someone living already in New York, perhaps they could let you stay in for the break and you could save that money. The hotel could be very expensive but thank God, there is Airbnb where you could find a spot according to your needs.

If you happen to be there I can recommend to go to the museums like The Met, The Moma, Madame Tussauds. Another day could be go to China Town where you could take a picture of your aura as I did. Also, eating pasta, gelato, taking a good cup of coffee with some cannoli https://foursquare.com/top-places/new-york-city/best-places-cannoli at Little Italy, or walking through Brooklyn Bridge. It sounds like a lot but is feasible, I did all that in just 5 days. If you plan your days before hand, you would get the most of your trip.

Ski Resort

I know is Spring break but we are in Rochester so Skiing is a legit way to spend this break. Get together with a group of friends and plan a few days trip in any of the resorts we have close by. A season pass is the best way to go but if you don’t have it you also can find ways to save some money. It doesn’t have to be crazy expensive, you could adjust the amount of days and share expenses with your friends like renting the car to travel, renting the gear and sharing the hotel.

Bristol Mountain Winter Resort

Over the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York 58 miles (1 hour 7 minutes) away from Rochester there are Bristol mountain, Holiday Valley which are popular resorts for skiing. Both offer discount for groups and other activities besides skiing like Winter Carnival dining and spa.

If you are an inexperienced skier is better if you go with a friend who knows and could teach you how things work but if you don’t these places offer lessons that you can take and make you more comfortable on the snow. As a graduate student, you will be in Rochester 2 to 3 years tops so take advantage of this time, the location and the weather. Yes! you are reading correctly, you can enjoy this weather as well.

Niagara Falls

I haven’t been there yet but just seeing the pictures that the scenery is breathtaking and being so close to it you don’t want to miss it. Niagara Falls is a collective name for 3 waterfalls that are place in the international border between Canada and the US (New York State).

Niagara Falls

From largest waterfall is Horseshoe Falls, then next close in size is American Falls and the smallest one is called Bridal Veil Falls. Horseshoe and Bridal Veil falls, both lie on American and Canadian borders, while American Falls is completely on the US side. So, if you are an international student, you don’t need a Canadian visa to visit. This is also a destination worthy to spend a few days there, from 2 to 3 days. If you enjoy outdoor adventures this destination is for you. You just have to dress accordingly for the weather at this time of the year, for spring break week is not so bad and you will be able to see the waterfall in movement.

Niagara Falls are located 19 miles (34 min) north-northwest of Buffalo City and 86 miles (1h 28 m) away from Rochester. If you are able to go for 3 days you also could make a quick tour through Buffalo City. I encourage you to visit the link niagarafallsusa.com and see the possibilities around this destination.

Rochester

If you don’t have the budget or the time to plan a trip you still can enjoy the city of Rochester. I just have been here for a semester and a half and I have been busy in grad school of course so I haven’t been out that much, but from what I have experience so far, I could recommend you my favorite places here in Rochester, The Strong Museum and The Playhouse. Both places are incredible fun, you could spend hours there exploring and playing. They are design to make you play and be creative.

Strong Museum of P

If you can, also try to talk with a local, they probably could recommend you other places that are not listed in this link https://vacationidea.com/destinations/best-things-to-do-in-rochester.html Even when is a small city in comparison to others, Rochester offers a number of fun things to do inside the city. Talk to your classmates that are not traveling and plan different activities to do together. We are in the middle of the semester and you just went through stressful midterms, you need time to do something fun outside school.

I wish you a relaxing and amazing spring break!

#MyRITstory- Ajinkya Shinde

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

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

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

Learn more about RIT’s MMSI department.

Learn more about the SMTA Student Chapter at RIT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#myRITstory – Rashmi Jeswani

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!

Rashmi Jeswani, Information Sciences and Technologies MS

My name is Rashmi Jeswani and I come from the town of Indore located at the heart of India. I am currently a Masters student studying Information Sciences at RIT. I recently switched majors from Business to Information Technology and I am glad I chose RIT for that. I love reading; it is one of my most favorite things to do. I have recently discovered skiing and hiking after coming to the states and I have fallen in love with that.

Coming to RIT was a massive change in my life as I had never lived away from home and my family and this has to be one of the most challenging things I have ever had to do.

I arrived at RIT last fall and plan to graduate in the May of 2020.

I love exploring new places to eat and hang out on campus and have quite a few favorite spots on campus. Some of them have to be the ‘study pods’ on the third floor of the Wallace Library if I have to doze off after a long night of submissions or concentrate on a tough assignment, the Fireside Lounge when I want to hang out with some friends and get work done amidst great music playing on the piano and of course Java Wally’s for their amazing Shot in the Dark and small snacks!!

The thing that I love the most about RIT is that I have developed a sense of freedom and individuality ever since I have arrived here. The ability to manage things on my own and be responsible for my actions and learn from my mistakes. Also, the plethora of resources at RIT have enabled me to learn a lot of things outside the classroom: at my jobs, with the professors, with my peers etc.

The primary reasons that I chose RIT were the courses that I was offered, the Co-op program and the scholarship that I was offered. I had heard really good things about the university, the campus life, employment opportunities, the city of Rochester and I actively decided to pursue my masters at the university.

During my last semester, I got the opportunity to present an idea for a project to one of my professors. The idea was ‘Business Intelligence Tools for Inventory Management and Scalability’. My professor seemed to love the idea and still actively supports and guides me to try and work towards turning this idea into my final capstone so soon into my masters!

In the long run I want to see myself working as a Data Analyst for a reputed firm anywhere in the world and develop tools that can bring about a reasonable change in the lives of the people around me. This is my ultimate career goal, to do what I love doing!

There are a bunch of things that I love the most about RIT. I LOVE the campus, I love the snow (even when people will argue it is something that they hate), I love the two jobs that I am working and most of all I love that I am studying and doing what I have dreamed of doing for so long at RIT. The great places on campus, the amazing people that I have met since the first day that I came to Rochester, the sense of belonging, the resources offered by the university and how everyone is constantly motivating and helping you to strive for the best in your career makes me more passionate every day to go out and work even harder for it even when if I fail sometimes.

Learn more about RIT’s MS in Information Sciences and Technologies program here.

 

 

 

 

 

#myRITstory – Alyssa Recinella

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

Alyssa Recinella, PhD in Engineering

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

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

Q: What is your expected date of graduation?

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

Q: Do you have a favorite spot on campus?

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What do you enjoy most about RIT?

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

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

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

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

Q: Why did you chose RIT?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Mid-Semester Break in the States!

by Rashmi Jeswani, Information Science and Technologies MS student

With the last few weeks of the semester draining the energies out of every student, I was fairly excited for the winter semester break screaming a trip to the warm and beautiful state of California (Christmas was near!!).

As an international student experiencing the dreary cold of Rochester for the first time, I had been looking forward to this break for months now. As much as I was grateful for my remarkable semester back in the university, I was in desperate need of a break away from the harsh weather and the tedious routine.

I landed at the San Francisco International Airport after a long 6-hour flight from Chicago but was astonished at how un-chilling the weather was in the state as compared to back in Rochester. I was going to stay with my cousins in Milpitas, situated in the Silicon Valley which is almost an hour away from the city of San Francisco and a few miles out from the headquarters of companies like Google and Microsoft.

Twin Peaks

I had planned on visiting several of the state’s most famous attractions with my family and we started the trip off with a surprising visit to Walmart!! so that we do not run out of food whilst lying in bed until noon!

The cities of Santa Clara and San Jose held some of the most amazing Christmas decorations and were on top of our lists for the places to visit during the break. The most famous among them was a place called ‘Christmas in the Park’ located in downtown San Jose; it truly was a great way to experience the American Christmas first hand. The next few days involved some paint-balling, exploring small cafes in the neighboring regions of Santa Clara and San Jose and spending our nights at Dave and Buster’s amidst great food and arcade games. Our thirst for ‘Places with the best Christmas festivities’ took us next to Santana Row (an upscale mixed-use development center consisting of retail, office space, residential, lodging and commercial district of West San Jose) which housed some of the most amazing cafes that screamed Christmas!

Situated in downtown San Jose

Christmas in the Park

The next destination on ‘Trip California’ was the beautiful city of San Francisco. The ride through the valley was one of the most beautiful ones I had ever experienced, leading us to our first and the most obvious stop: The Golden Gate Bridge. An icon of the bay area, the bridge spreads over a mile and its dusky golden reflections make you realize how much you miss color until all you’ve seen is white glistening snow for over a month.

The other destinations we covered in the city were Twin Peaks, desserts at the famous Ghirardelli Square, Lombard Street, Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf (for the famous Boudin bakery!), Financial District and ended the night with some ice skating at the renowned Union Square.

The Ghirardelli Square

Union Square

The entire trip was rimmed with bubble baths, the comfort of home-cooked Indian food with the family, the delicacies served in small pretty cafes of nearby counties and beautiful warm pink sunsets.

This amazing trip to the west filled me with a positive determination and excitement for the coming semester back at the university!

Life outside of RIT!

by Goral Kansara, Engineering Management ME 

To be a graduate student is different from being any student because now, there comes responsibilities and a lot of management. My journey as a graduate student started with stepping into a new and a beautiful place called Rochester. The day I entered in this place, I saw these green fields, a peaceful small city and a huge campus. I knew that academics was going to be challenging but that the hardest part would be not only to stay in a new place, but also to live in it.

An exciting journey of mine started with meeting new people at the new apartment which I also thought would be the hardest part of my grad life as you can probably imagine living so many girls in the same house! However, our story is a little different, I am fortunate to have such housemates. Well, that does not mean that we do everything together or that we have exact same interests. There is just a strange way in which all of us are living together in that house.

Park Point apartment

We live in Park Point apartment, by American Campus. This is one of the  recommended off campus housings by RIT. RIT recommends some great off campus housing options that have very convenient bus stops which makes it easy to commute to the campus and to other places as well, using the weekend shuttles. These shuttles go to grocery stores, malls and to many other places in the city on every weekend. They start from 10:30 am and usually run till 9:30 pm. On week days, the shuttles start from 7:00 am in the morning and they run till 1:30 am.

Park Point apartment

Having to think about the career, home and yourself at the same time is something that one has not faced until this time in life. Therefore, to make this journey smoother, it is important stay focused and live in a happy place.

I would say, Rochester itself has this strange positive feeling which makes it so much easier to live in this place. There are numerous places in this city. Before coming here, I was worried about how I am going to survive in such small place but after a few days, I realized that it has almost everything that a person would probably need in order to have a perfect student life.

Rochester has many places to visit such as the High Falls, Genesee River Walk, Ontario Beach Park, Highland Park, etc.

The High Falls

The High Falls, Rochester, NY

High Falls is located in downtown Rochester. It is one of the three falls to discover on Genesee river. The view of the falls in the evening is spectacular and that it is the best time of a day because after a few hours, the lights turn on; alternately white, red and green and you get to see the beautiful view of High Falls in the dark.

 

High Falls at night

Genesee river walk

view from Genesee river walk

The Genesee river walk is also one of the attractions in Rochester. Especially, the view at night is eye pleasing. The cold breeze and the city lights can make anyone want to sit there for hours.

Ontario beach park

 

Ontario Beach park, Rochester, NY

Ontario Beach Park is one of the most serene places in Rochester. With having a heavy course load on one side, this place in the city that helps you stay close to the nature and its positivity. A beautiful blend of green and blue waters makes it even beautiful.

The Highland park

The Highland Park, Rochester, NY

The Highland park is located on the south quadrant of the city of Rochester which is also known as Highland botanical park. This park is popular for its Lilac festival in May. Apart from this, there are many festivals held in summer and in the winter, it is also open for ice skating, theater, and concerts.

Not only the specific places in Rochester, the entire city for that matter, is a place that has its own vibe which will give you confidence that you will achieve something valuable in life.