First Robotics Finger Lakes Regional Competition Begins

March 24, 2016

The FIRST Robotics Finger Lakes Regional will be held today (3/24) through Saturday (3/26) in the Gordon Field House at RIT.  The competition is free and open to the public. It’s a perfect example of what happens when you bring schools, STEM focused companies, and mentors who work in the industry to work on a STEM based project together over a short period of time.


The agenda for the competition can be found here.

A list of the 49 teams that will be competing, along with updated scores throughout the weekend can be found here.

An explanation for this year’s game can be found here.

This is the culminating weekend for the event which kicked off in January (click here to read about the kickoff).



WE@RIT: A Student’s Perspective

December 2, 2015

WE@RIT-logo2_0On November 9th, the Women In Engineering (WE@RIT) program, in conjunction with the Women in Computing (WiC) program, came together to host their inaugural WE@RIT/WiC Open House.  Geared to girls in grades 5-9, this was an experiential event with activities, demonstrations and displays that showcased the many different areas of engineering that are available to our future engineers.  We invited a local middle school student to share her experience at this event.  

A few weeks ago I attended a Women in Engineering and a Women in Computing open house at RIT. I wasn’t sure what to expect so I was surprised to see so many varieties of engineering. There were Chemical, Computer, Mechanical and many more types of engineering. I didn’t realize there were so many girls, like me, who liked engineering. The place was packed.

One of the many hands-on stations at this event

One of the many hands-on stations at this event

There were a lot of activities that I admired and one of them was the electrical engineering:  robotics. There was a robot that was programed to do tricks like cartwheels and handstands. I was also very interested in a computer program. On the computer you make a robot that battles other robots. This was one of my personal favorites.

My sister also accompanied me and her favorite activity was a big surprise. It was mechanical engineering and materials in science. Really what it was, was playing in goo!

Hands-on gooey fun!

Hands-on gooey fun!

Programmable Robots!

Programmable Robots!














Overall I had a great time. There were a lot of activities that kept me engaged. It was a lot of fun. I would definitely do it again if they have another open house.

Alexandra Covert is a 7th grade student at the Oliver Middle School in Brockport, NY.

Are you a local student interested in writing about your experiences in local STEM activities?  We invite you to join us for our student guest blog series! Contact our Web Administrator at



The “E” in STEM

April 20, 2015

Last month during Engineering Week, we started taking a look at Engineering Explorer Posts available to our local High School Students.  This week’s focus is on Explorer Post 801, hosted by the Rochester Engineering Society.

Explorer Post 801

Explorer Post 801

The members of the Rochester Engineering Society (RES) feel the best part of STEM is the “E”.  Each year, the RES sponsors “Career Options in Engineering”, Explorer Post 801.  The post is open to older high school girls and boys in the five county area around Rochester, NY.  The focus is to help students find out what “Engineering is really about”.

The stereotypical engineer has thick glasses, bends over a desk all day, writes with a mechanical pencil all while avoiding eye contact with people.  The purpose of Post 801 is to introduce students to real engineers, doing real work in the real world.  I’ll bet there is at least one of us that matches the stereotype, but most engineers spend their day talking with other engineers, customers, trades people and consumers trying to solve real problems.

Explorers at __________

Inside the RIT Microelectronics clean room

Students hear about a typical day in the life of an engineer from the engineer.  Students learn about engineering education, about the perks of being an engineer and even about some of the trials an engineer might experience.  This is not about slick power point presentations, but more show and tell, with a smattering of advice from the heart.

Each of our presenters tells the story of their road to engineering.  Some were math whizzes in high school but a few were not!  They tell the story of what college they selected and why.  We always hear a few stories about special jobs they did that you would never expect an engineer to do.  One has a story of cleaning up Anthrax contamination in a NYC sky scraper while another has stories of working on JFK autopsy pictures.

Explorers at ______

Gleason Works

Each engineer tells the story of a job that pays well, offers constant challenges and continuous learning, but offers the bigger perk of personal satisfaction.  At the end of the day, engineers design and build products that help people.  Imagine your personal pride as you are in a car driving over the Frederick Douglass – Susan B. Anthony Memorial Bridge in Rochester with your family and grandchildren, knowing that your work helps tens of thousands of people make it home from work each day, every day, safely and quickly.

The post runs from January to March, meeting each Thursday night from 6:30 to 8:30.  Sign up is in early October.  This year we had 24 students and 12 meetings.  Our students met engineers from: Chemical Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, Structural Engineering, Highway Engineering, Bio medical Engineering, Microelectronic Engineering, Software Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering, Electro-Magnetic Interference Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Imaging Science.  You can see the full schedule on the RES Website.

Explorers at _____

Chemical Engineering at RIT

Each week we meet at a new location so we can see and feel what it is like to be an engineer.  We tour facilities like: the Gleason Works, the Microelectronics Wafer Fab Facility at RIT, the Bio-medical Engineering labs at the U of R, the Electro-Magnetic Interference and Product Safety Test Engineering labs at TUV Rheinland of North America and the Ginna Nuclear power plant.

The RES Explorers would like to express our appreciation for the generosity of our host companies, institutions and most importantly the presenters that donated their time and talents to meet with our students.  Our program will start again in January 2016 and we would welcome your children.  Contact Lynne Irwin at the RES (585) 254-2350 or Keith Gomez from the Seneca Waterways Council, BSA (585) 244-4210 for more information.  The cost of the program is approximately $40.

Richard Repka is a Commercialization manger at Kodak Alaris.  He has a BS & MS in Electrical Engineering from RIT and Syracuse University.  Richard is a Senior Member of the IEEE and a member of the Rochester Engineering Society (RES), where he also leads the RES Explorer Post 801.RESLOGOFINAL_cmyk_tagc

Family Fun at Imagine RIT!

May 8, 2014

Ready to go exploring!

On Saturday, our family attended the Imagine RIT Innovation and Creativity Festival. This was our first time attending, but it will definitely not be the last! There was so much to do for children of all ages, that I will definitely be marking the calendar each year for this event.  Our entire family attended, including 2 teenagers (17 and 15) and 2 elementary students (9 and 7).  We had a blast exploring the entire campus.  There were so many things to do it was hard to decide what to do first.

I really appreciated the Plan Your Day section of the Imagine RIT  Website.  You could choose from preselected itineraries (we chose Elementary and High School) as well as a build-your-own itinerary that we tried out as well.  Along with the map, the itineraries were very helpful in figuring out where we wanted to go, and what we wanted to see.  Upon arrival, we were greeted at one of the several Welcome Centers, where we received a full size map and events listing that really helped us as we navigated our way through our itinerary.

Sustainability Passport

Sustainability Passport

Some of the buildings we went through quickly, while others we really explored all they had to offer.  In the Sustainability Hall we had fun filling our a Passport at the different exhibits.  There was so much to see that you really could spend the whole day there and not see it all.

The one exhibit that we had talked about ahead of time, that was on our “must do” list was the robotic s’more maker.  Of course this was all the way at the other end of campus from where we parked, and we saw some very cool stuff on our way across campus.  From the Concrete Canoe to the Robotic Fish, there were interesting things to learn about at every turn.

The robotic fish drew a huge crowd

The robotic fish drew a huge crowd

The Cement Canoe really floats!

The Cement Canoe really floats!

Along with informational displays, there were hands-on opportunities throughout the festival.  We made pinwheels as we learned about alternative energy sources, had faces painted as we learned about eco-friendly materials and learned about electromagnetics as we tried to pop balloons with an electromagnetic dart.

We took a wrong turn trying to find an exhibit and found ourselves in the Project Lead The Way department.  This ended up being a nice little detour as my older boys (who both participate in PLTW at Brockport High School) were able to explain the many projects on display to their younger siblings.

Overall, this was a great experience and a really nice event to take the family too.  Even with a wide range of ages, we found things of interest to everyone – parents included!

Making a pinwheel to demonstrate alternative energy

Making a pinwheel to demonstrate alternative energy

If you went to the festival, RIT would love to hear from you!  Please fill out their survey to let them know about your experience.  Survey participants have a chance to win a prize if they complete the survey by May 14, 2014.

They have already announced the date for next year, so mark your calendars:  May 2, 2015.

Tammy Bonisteel works for the Fingerlakes STEM Hub and maintains the Hub Website along with the STEM Hub blog.  She lives in Brockport, NY where she is an active community volunteer.


Imagine RIT this weekend!

May 1, 2014
Imagine RIT

Come explore the many hands-on demonstrations at Imagine RIT!

Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival is a campus-wide event held at the Rochester Institute of Technology that showcases the innovative and creative spirit of RIT students, faculty and staff. Visitors can experience the depth of RIT through interactive presentations, hands-on demonstrations, exhibitions, and research projects set up throughout the RIT campus. With inflatables, games and multiple performance stages with live music and entertainment, visitors of all ages will be amazed at all that Imagine RIT has to offer. In its seventh year, Imagine RIT is the kickoff to Rochester’s rich festival season.

“The festival’s mission goes beyond showcasing the thriving RIT campus. We see it as a call to national service. Innovation is one of our country’s last competitive advantages. Young Americans want to walk to the beat of their own drummer, and their desire to be different is an innate American characteristic. At RIT, we help students channel that passion in constructive ways and foster the United States’ leadership in technical innovation and creative ideas for new products and services.”
– RIT President, Bill Destler

The first Imagine RIT festival launched in 2008, drawing in more than 15,000 visitors to the RIT campus to see more than 300 interactive exhibits and displays. Now in the festival’s seventh year, Imagine RIT draws in more than 35,000 people to RIT each May to see exhibits and exciting new displays of the university’s unique talent to innovate and create. The Imagine RIT festival is a result of what happens when the right and left brain collide. With innovation and creativity being integral components of this extraordinary festival, each year the festival just seems to get bigger and better.

See the robotic s'more maker in action!

See the robotic s’more maker in action!

Hungry for innovation? The MFET Senior Design class here at RIT has created a fully automated, user interactive work-cell capable of manufacturing and assembling the delicious campfire treat known as the s’more! Consisting of robotic arms, conveyer belts, pneumatic systems, and sensors, visitors at Imagine RIT will be able to view and fully customize their s’more experience via a touch screen menu. Check out this video clip to see the robotic s’more machine in action!
Exhibitors from the MFET Senior Design team include: Josh Depot, Cory Deacon, Chung-Wei Chan, Dominic Fioretti, Patrick Adams, Scott Baxter, Nicholas Newland, Duane Beck, Erin Haier, Cody Farr, Anna Lorette, Michael Hymann, and SunWoo Ji.

The festival is held this Saturday, May 3 from 10-5.  Please visit the event page for directions and parking instructions. The festival has it’s own blog as well, if you want further updates.

John Horton is an Imagine RIT Co-op.  He graduated from RIT in May 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management. His future aspirations are to continue his education and to travel.

Imagine RIT 2

Imagine RIT 2010 Innovation + Creativity Festival on 5/1- Don’t Miss It!!!

April 25, 2010


Imagine RIT is an annual festival held by The Rochester Institute of Technology each spring to showcase the innovative and creative spirit of RIT students, faculty, and staff.  In the words of RIT President Bill Destler, the festival shows what can happen when, “the right and left brain collide.”  

This year’s festival will be held on Saturday, May 1st from 10 am to 5 pm throughout the campus of RIT.   

Attendees of the festival will experience  interactive presentations, hands-on demonstrations, and exhibitions. You can plan your day in advance by visiting the festival’s  2010 program and searching for the “Zone” that most interests you.  Zones include: The Think Tank, Artistic Alley, Engineering Park, Computer Zone, Green Place, and Technology Quarter.  You can add specific exhibits from each Zone to your itinerary, download the itinerary, and print it.  Customzing your visit in advance will help you save time and focus on the areas that interest you the most. 

Some of the displays and activities especially designed for young visitors are:

  • Free Popcorn
  • Wonderful World of Tiny Animals
  • Reduced Fat Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream
  • FIRST Robotics/Lego League Experience
  • Make Your Own Kind of Music!
  • Engineering Exploration Lab
  • Auto Etch-a-Sketch
  • Fluids Are Fun!
  • Science In Your Kitchen
  • Automated Hot Dog Assembler

    Another highlight of Imagine RIT is the annual festival poster contest. This year, there were 66 entries and 5,000 votes by members of the RIT community.  Each  entry can be seen on the Imagine RIT website.  This is a great competition that encourages students to merge creativity with the STEM fields.  Thomas Sokolowski, a first-year chemical engineering student from Rochester won this year’s contest with a stunning galactic themed entry.  

    The 2010 Imagine RIT winning poster


    Another unique contest offered through Imagine RIT is the “Dr. Destler’s Green Vehicle Challenge.”   The challenge will take  place at 9:00 am on May 1 at the Simone Circle on the RIT campus and is open to the public.  RIT students will design and construct a vehicle that carries at least one > 150 Ib. person on an approximately 3 mile route along the RIT loop.  The vehicle must use less total energy per 150 Ib. person than Dr. Destler’s electric bicycle.  The winner of the challenge will be announced at the festival’s Opening Ceremony at 10:00 a.m.  The winning team may choose a banjo from RIT President Dr. Destler’s collection or $1,000.  


    Creativity plays an important role in education and RIT understands that.  The Imagine RIT festival shows that STEM education is not simply about science, technology, engineering and math — but about self-expression, teamwork, environmentalism, and mindfulness.  The Center for Excellence in Math and Science highly recommends that everyone in the community visit the RIT campus on May 1, 2010.  

    by Allison Wang – Graduate Assistant – Center for Excellence in Math and Science  

    and Caurie Miner Putnam – Program Coordinator – Center for Excellence in Math and Science STEM Mentors Program

    FIRST Robotics Competition at RIT

    March 16, 2010



    On Friday, March 5th students from forty-four high school throughout New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Canada participated in the Finger Lakes Regional FIRST Robotic Competition, hosted by The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) In total about 4,000 participants and fans attended the annual competition which is sponsored by a robotics organization called FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) FIRST is a non-profit organization founded by Segway inventor Dean Kamen.

     The theme of this year’s competition was “Breakaway” – a robot version of soccer. Five teams qualified for the championship round in Atlanta next month by defeating robots from other teams in the game of Breakaway.

    It is essential for schools and STEM related organizations to hold competitions like the First Robotic competition to give students the opportunity to explore science in a fun, hand-on way and to promote an interest in STEM higher education and fields. The competition also increases student’s creative thinking, problem solving and teamwork work skills.  

    High school physics teacher Ellen Bansik Lewis saw the valuable skills students gain from participation in the program first hand.  Lewis coached the FIRST Robotics team at Greenwich High School in Connecticut from 2000 – 2003.  “I think that the most impressive aspect of FIRST is how students partner with corporate sponsors, professional engineers, teachers, and their parents and younger brothers and sisters to work as a team, under time constraints, to get a job done that gives them an appreciation for science and technology,” Lewis said.

    Lewis saw many of her students go on to college majors and, eventually, careers in the STEM disciplines. “Many of my former students involved in FIRST have gone on to study Engineering or Physics in college. Some of these students had an interest in Science and Technology to begin with, but others found their interest in science because of their participation with the project,” Lewis said. 

    Yet, Lewis also saw some students gain skills applicable to other disciplines or that could be applied to STEM fields in a non-traditional way.  “Many students enjoyed designing and building the robot, others enjoyed the computer programming,” Lewis said, “There were also students involved in the project that focused on marketing, publicity, fund-raising, and travel arrangement aspects. I’ve had students go on to pursue careers in business because of what they got out of the project.”

    It is quite possible that someday youngsters who participated in The FIRST Robotics Competition at RIT will be students there in a myriad of fields thanks to the valuable skills they learned through the competition.