Learning is a journey for one Ph.D. student

Some might say that Rod Heckaman is not your typical student. However, the 61-year-old Ph.D. candidate in imaging science says that he has been a student his entire life and is now just entering a new phase of learning.

Following a 32-year career in product research at Kodak, Heckaman was trying to decide what he wanted to do next when good friend John Klofas, professor of criminal justice, suggested he look into RIT’s doctoral program in imaging science.

“I had completed my degree years before and had thought about taking the next step, but it was not until John’s encouragement that I contacted RIT,” Heckaman says. “Working at Kodak, I knew about RIT’s state-of-the-art programs but I was amazed at how accommodating and helpful they were, especially during the application process.”

Heckaman, currently in his third year and focusing on color science research, recently received the prestigious Macbeth-Engel Fellowship for his educational excellence and hopes to use his degree in some academic capacity, preferably at RIT.

“I have learned so much from the professors and scientists at RIT and have been amazed at the tremendous, cutting-edge work that is being undertaken here,” Heckaman adds.

“I want to continue to contribute to this environment and motivate other students the way my professors have inspired me.”

According to Mark Fairchild, director of the Munsell Color Science Laboratory, Heckaman need not worry about being an inspiration in the future. He already serves as one every day to his professors and fellow students.

“Rod is a tremendous student with a willingness to learn and help others,” Fairchild says. “More importantly, though, he is an example of what hard work and dedication will bring to someone who really wants to see his dreams come true, no matter his background.”

RIT News & Events, Oct. 20, 2005