Open@RIT is a Key Research Center of the University and serves as the Open Programs Office for the University. It is part of the Office of the Vice President of Research.

Open@RIT is dedicated to fostering the collaborative engine of Open across the University for Faculty, Staff and Students. Its goals are to discover, and grow, the footprint of RIT’s impact on all things Open including, but not limited to, Open Source Software, Open Data, Open Hardware, Open Educational Resources and Creative Commons licensed efforts, what we like to refer to in aggregate as Open Work. 

Its charter was approved by the Provost in June of 2020 and it was established under the Office of the Vice-President of Research in August of 2020. We're coming to a number of college-wide meetings this Fall semester.  Want a preview of the talk before we get to yours?  Had to miss the meeting? View the slides.


The roots of Open@RIT are based in our twelve years of FOSS education for undergraduate students which includes...

The goal of Open@RIT is to be able to provide similar support for the Open Work already pursued by RIT Faculty and Staff, and to mentor those interested in getting started in it. 

In November of 2019, Jacobs wrote a white paper for the Vice President of Research and the Provost describing the role of an Open Source Programs Office in industry and what a similar effort might do for RIT.  

The paper resulted in an invitation by the Administration to hold a series of exploratory meetings with faculty and staff to gauge interest.  

Fifty faculty and staff from 37 units across campus RSVP’d to the first meeting (pre-COVID) and twenty participated (post-COVID) in the creation of a “wish list” document suggesting what Open@RIT might do. Much of Open@RIT’s charter, approved by the Provost in June of 2020, was influenced by that “wish list.” 

Open@RIT firmly believes in the FOSS maxim of “release early, release often.”  Our website will reflect that as well, so come back regularly, especially during our first year.

Latest News

  • November 13, 2020

    logo for Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

    Open@RIT receives Sloan Foundation grant to support open work across the university

    RIT’s open programs office has received a nearly $500,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to measure and strengthen support of the faculty and staff who do work in the open community, including open source software, open data, open hardware, open educational resources, Creative Commons licensed work, open research, and other open work.

  • October 27, 2020

    several patriotic "I Voted" stickers.

    Election Day Hackathon encourages people to use open technology for civic engagement

    As the 2020 election results come in Nov. 3, civic hackers at RIT want to remind people about the power of technology and how it can be used for good. At RIT’s Election Day Hackathon, students, faculty, staff, and community members will analyze civic problems in the local community, state, and country and propose projects to address them.



Stephen Jacobs is a professor with the School of Interactive Games and Media and an interdisciplinary scholar who works in several different areas that often overlap including Free and Open Source Software and Free Culture. Digital Humanities, Game Design and History and Interactive Narrative. He also holds the position of Visiting Scholar at The Strong National Museum of Play.  His Open Work has been funded by The Ford Foundation, UNICEF Innovation, Red Hat Inc, Northern Telecom and AT&T. Professor Jacobs received the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Mentoring for 2019-2020. 

Advisory Board

picture of matthew bernius from the side

Matthew Bernius

Principle User Researcher
Code for America
BS New Media Publishing, RIT, 1996

a photo of Deb Nicholson from above

Deb Nicholson

Interim Director 
The Open Source Initiative

portrait of Silona Bonewald

Silona Bonewald

Executive Director 
IEEE Standards Association

portrait of Mike Nolan

Mike Nolan

Federation of Humanitarian Technologists
BS New Media Interactive Development 
Minor, Free & Open Source Software & Free Culture RIT 2016

portrait of Mel Chua

Mel Chua

ABD, Purdue, School of Engineering Education

portrait of Ihudiya Finda Ogbonnaya-Ogburu

Ihudiya Finda Ogbonnaya-Ogburu

HCI Researcher (PhD candidate), University of Michigan School of Information
BS, Information Technology, RIT  2010

Portrait of Remy DeCausemaker

Remy DeCausemaker

BS & MS, School of Independent Study, RIT '08, '13 

portrait of Nithya Ruff

Nithya Ruff

Board Director & Head of Open Source
Comcast, Inc

portrait of Justin W. Flory

Justin W. Flory

FOSS Technical Advisor
UNICEF Innovation
B.S. Networking & Systems Administration, Minor, Free & Open Source Software & Free Culture, RIT 202

portrait of Justin Sherrill

Justin Sherrill

Developer, DragonFly BSD
Information Technology Masters, 2002.

portrait of Wilfried Hounyo

Wilfried Hounyo

Software Engineer
Zendesk, INc
BS in Computer Science, RIT 2019

portrait of Kyle Suero

Kyle Suero

Application Security Engineer
Clear, Inc.
BS, Computing Security, RIT, 2019

Portrait of Jenn Kotler

Jenn Kotler

UX Designer
Space Telescope Science Institute
BS Medical Illustration, RIT 2014

Portrait of Tom Callaway

Tom Callaway

Principal Open Source Evangelist, Amazon Web Services

Portrait of Ruth Suehle

Ruth Suehle

TiDirector, Software Engineering, Global,Red Hat

Headshot of Chris Aniszczyk

Chris Aniszczyk

Chief Technology Officer, Cloud Native Computing Foundation
Vice President, Developer Relations, The Linux Foundation



10th Annual and First Virtual Election Night Hackathon. Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

Screen shot of the vitural events video conference

An animated and active event was held with speakers Katherine May, chief performance officer of the city of Rochester, Matthew Bernius, principal user researcher at Code for America’s Clear My Record project, Jacob Green, founder of, who talked about the city of Baltimore's project in civic tech.

National Civic Day of Hacking Virtual Hackathon. Saturday, September 12th, Noon-6
We’ll be partnering with the City of Rochester and the City Library to do some local asset mapping for Rochester.  No previous experience required. The event is primarily asynchronous and a full six hour commitment is not required. To learn more about the effort, click the link below!
Information about, and sign up form for the Rochester virtual cohort

Lightning Talk for the State of the Source Summit September 9th @ 3:10 p.m.
We’ll be presenting a lightning talk on Open@RIT as part of this event. Catch just our presentation, or enjoy the full two-day event for free. (Though the OSI would appreciate it if you take the opportunity to contribute on the registration page if you are able.)


Knowledge Base: Open@RIT will provide a curated set of resource links for Faculty, Staff and Students.  This very alpha prototype illustrates our thinking as to the type of information we’ll be looking to share.  There will be a link here in the future for the community ro recommend additions to this resource.


The research effort that indirectly led to Open@RIT, and directly led to our recent Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Grant (see more in "News" above)  was Conceptual Mismatches, a qualitative study of PyPI  that was funded as part of the first Critical Digital Infrastructure Research program, supported by the Fourd Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The work was presented as part of a research panel held by the Ford and Sloan foundations on August 20th, 2020.

University-Wide Directory of Open Work and Research on Open

One of our goals is to build a listing/directory/database of Open Work and Research on Open being done by RIT Faculty and Staff. Once we get one up and running, you’ll find a link here to register your projects with the goal of helping you find resources and network with other folks on campus to network and collaborate with.

Professional Development Programming

This was one of the most requested items from the focus group meetings that were held earlier this year.  We’ll be working on developing some of this over the fall semester and hope to begin offering some initial programming in Spring Semester.