RIT student team, alumna win big at Digital Rochester GREAT Awards

Winners honored Sept. 22 for leadership, skill, vision and advancing innovation

From left, Dana Wolcott, lead innovation coach for RIT’s Simone Center for Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Mariana Pinheiro, MFA, industrial design student from Brazil; and Erika Madison, international business student from Sodus Point, N.Y., celebrate their win in the Student Achievement category at the Digital Rochester awards Sept. 22.

A team of Rochester Institute of Technology students and an RIT alumna won top awards for their innovative creations and technology leadership at the 2016 Greater Rochester Excellence and Achievements in Technology Awards, presented by Digital Rochester Inc. The ceremony was held Sept. 22.

Smart Toy, founded by Erika Madison (international business, Sodus Point, N.Y.); Mariana Pinheiro (MFA, industrial design, Brazil); and Doug Huang (MFA, industrial design, Taiwan), won the Student Achievement Award, presented to a currently enrolled student or team of students at a Greater Rochester higher education institution who has shown leadership and skill in applying or advancing innovative technology for the betterment of themselves, their educational institution and/or the greater Rochester community.

Smart Toy is a series of interactive instruments designed to stimulate the senses of children with low-motor coordination skills through the use of textures, sounds, vibrations and light patterns. Pinheiro hopes that youngsters with developmental and physical disabilities will soon benefit from using the educational toy she helped design.

The toy has also been showcased in several student-focused entrepreneurship activities at RIT including Idea Lab, Tiger Tank, and the Effective Access Technology Conference product competition. This past summer, the design team joined the Saunders Summer Start-Up program, an intensive incubation program where students earn a stipend to advance their business ideas, as well as Studio 930, a design consultancy at RIT.

Jill Eisenstein ’84 (human services management), executive director of Rochester RHIO, won the Technology Leader Award, presented to a technology business leader responsible for an IT department. It recognizes the ability for this person to instill their vision, providing the inspiration and motivation that compels an organization to take dramatic steps in applying innovative technology that resulted in increased productivity, efficiency or business success.

Finalists with connections to RIT were nominated in several categories, including four in the Student Achievement Award category, one for the Rising Star award and one for the Technology Innovation Award.

According to Richard DeMartino, director of RIT’s Simone Center for Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship and professor in Saunders College of Business, the presence of RIT’s projects and businesses represented at the GREAT Awards is a testament to the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that RIT creates and maintains.

“We’re so proud that the work of RIT students and graduates is being recognized by the Rochester community.”

student experience

Recommended News

  • July 12, 2019

    'Woman wearing black blouse sits in front of desk with computer.'

    Professor honored with Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

    RIT computing professor Linwei Wang, whose research is advancing non-invasive personalized healthcare for heart diseases, is receiving the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent research careers and show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology.

  • July 11, 2019

    'Woman fires glass pitcher in a hotshop.'

    Glass graduate part of new Netflix series

    A new Netflix glassblowing reality series features an RIT alumna as an expert glassmaker. Blown Away, which begins airing July 12 on the streaming platform, follows a group of 10 highly skilled glassmakers who compete in challenges in 10 episodes. Catherine Ayers ’06 (glass) is one of six Corning Museum of Glass experts who assists the two finalists in the last challenge.