Connect your mind: TWC @ Imagine RIT

With over 30,000 visitors annually, the Imagine RIT festival can attribute its success to its various planning committees, volunteers and sponsors. One sponsor in particular has returned, now for the 6th year in a row, as our premier sponsor, providing the festival with significant support both in terms of marketing and visitor engagement. Time Warner Cable (TWC), through their Connect a Million Minds (CAMM) program, has helped broaden the Imagine RIT audience beyond Greater Rochester and has brought STEM awareness and activities to more students than ever before.

The Time Warner Cable logo next to the Connect a Million Minds Logo

Stephanie Salanger, Northeast Community Investment Manager at Time Warner Cable, has worked with Connect a Million Minds since its creation back in 2009. “The program came about at the time when President Obama had an initiative to get more kids [K-12] engaged in STEM programs” said Salanger. “This presented us [TWC] with the perfect opportunity to lend support with a program like CAMM.”

Launched officially in 2009, Connect a Million Minds is a one hundred million dollar grant funded initiative aimed at addressing America’s declining proficiency in science, technology, engineering and math. Using its media assets, TWC has created nationwide awareness of the issue encouraging parents, teachers and mentors to inspire 1,000,000 young minds with after school STEM programs. Despite having exceeded their target of one million minds in May 2014, TWC continues to support events and organizations year-round so that K-12 students develop the STEM skills needed to become the next generation of problem solvers.

What Salanger loves about Imagine RIT is its ability to engage people the minute they reach the campus and maintain that connection until they leave. There’s a wide variety of exhibits for everyone to enjoy – more than 400 of them to be specific, and these include very interactive activities. Even more importantly, kids are learning without even knowing it! Beyond Imagine RIT, Salanger has also worked with the Rochester Museum and Science Center, YMCA, Rochester Community Robotics, and Geva Theater.

On behalf of all the organizers of Imagine RIT, we thank you, Time Warner Cable, for your continued support!

Destler Talks Destler’s Challenge

Current President of RIT:  Dr. Bill Destler

As the first year of Imagine RIT came to a close in 2008, 17,000 visitors could testify to the uniquely innovative and creative spirit of RIT students, faculty and staff. They had perhaps thought they’d “seen it all”; however, one man’s imagination begged to take the showcase of Imagine RIT even further. “I got interested in electric vehicles, which is an interesting story in itself, but I basically thought they were a fraud,” said current RIT president Bill Destler. An engineer who knew better than to simply trust his assumption, President Destler bought an electric scooter to tinker with and test for himself. He was continually amazed by its efficiency and low costs of operation which transformed his doubt into a fascination that he wanted to share with others. Thus, the first Dr. Destler’s Challenge at Imagine RIT was born.

Destler’s Challenge has traditionally been a sustainable, primarily electric vehicle, based event that is featured every year prior to the opening ceremony of Imagine RIT. The challenge is open to all teams of RIT students, faculty, staff who build or modify a vehicle that is capable of tackling the current year’s challenge. Winners of the challenge get a choice between a $1000 cash prize or one of Destler’s antique banjos from his private collection.

Last year’s challenge was the E-vehicle Autocross where teams had to build e-vehicles and race around a specified track set up in one of RIT’s parking lots. In 2013, participants had to focus on endurance rather than maneuverability, and were asked to modify and drive a “Power Wheels” children’s toy vehicle.


Photo from a previous Destler’s Challenge

The 8th annual festival on Saturday, May 2 will bring a major shift in Destler’s Challenge by veering from land-based vehicles to air-based vehicles, namely UAVs. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs) come in many different forms, shapes and sizes. To level the playing field and to make the contest accessible to more students, each team has been given the same kit containing a type of UAV called a quadcopter due to its reliance on four rotors.

As Destler correctly points out, “UAVs have this sort of reputation for being weapons carriers…they have a lot of other applications like photography or shipping.” These other applications will be shown through this year’s challenge, which takes place in RIT’s new arena, the Gene Polisseni Center, starting at 8:30 a.m. on May 2. Teams will remotely pilot their crafts along a specified course, stopping to take photographs of “pedestrians” (i.e. life-sized stand ups of RIT administrators). The second part of the challenge will demonstrate preprogrammed autonomous tasks of each team’s choosing. In order to show his support, President Destler and his quadcopter will also be on the course with the other competitors.

An example of the Parrot UAV Kit given to all the teams

President Destler hopes the challenge will increase the “technical literacy” of its viewers and competitors, as well as demonstrate the many capabilities of UAVs beyond their military connotation. He also wants it to be an entertaining experience that will keep people coming back for more next year. As for the future of the challenge? “We’ll continue them for as long as I’m here,” said Destler. “The real challenge will be to come up with interesting new ideas. Will we shift [technologies] again next year? Who knows?”

Exhibit Featurette #5: GoPros + Cinema = Virtual Reality Movies

Have you ever been watching a film and wished that you were not confined to what the director wanted you to see? Maybe you wanted to take in some of the scenery, or maybe you were wondering if something cool is happening outside of the frame. These wishes could soon be fulfilled with the help of virtual reality cinema, which will be on display at this year’s Imagine RIT.

gopro4Victoria using an Oculus Rift

Victoria McGowen, a third year Motion Picture Science major and her team over in RIT’s Virtual Reality and Imaging Detector Lab have created a means for capturing video that can be used in virtual reality. This is accomplished by affixing multiple Gopro camcorders to a surface to make a “GoPro Platter” as team member Sean Cooper calls it. That along with the help of some image stitching software can allow a director to film hemispherical video. After the videos are gathered and stitched together the team uses an Oculus Rift headset to display the images in virtual reality.

gopro2GoPros attached to a surface prototype

An Oculus Rift is a headset that is worn over the user’s eyes and displays a different image for each eye giving off the illusion of virtual reality. It also uses the movements of the user to further the feeling of virtual reality. The experience is truly spectacular and the team wants to share the experience by allowing Imagine RIT visitors to try on the Oculus Rift and experiencing it for themselves.

gopro1The Virtual Reality Cinema Team from left to right:

Back: Kayla Mouriz, Matt Setlow, Sean Cooper, Noah Kram, Andrew Gillie

Front: Anna Dining, Hollie Grant, Victoria McGowen

Once this project has been completed the Virtual Reality Cinema team hopes to let the school of Film and Animation utilize their creation to make truly unique videos. “We work with the film department and we wanted to kind of bring in a cinematic experience to virtual reality.” said McGowen. Though the team seemed very excited about the future of their project, they also want the opportunity to showcase many of the other interesting aspects of Motion Picture Science. The team wants to showcase a different project every year, and we are excited to see what they come up with! Check them out at this year’s Imagine RIT.

Exhibit Featurette #4: Your Watch, Your Band, Click.

The recent announcement of the Apple watch has stirred the world once again as Apple tries its hand into the wearable smart device market. Coming in at a variety of price points and styles, the Apple watch aims to fit any person’s needs for any occasion. However, Apple has overlooked an important part of any watch that adds to its character: the band. Limited and expensive, the Apple’s watchbands add little to the overall flavor and color of the watch. A young student and his team grabbed the opportunity and aim to change that.

Brandon Hudson, 1st year Computer Science and CEO of SevenSeveteen, is the mastermind behind Click. It is the first watchband adapter for the Apple Watch. The adapter is able to take any 22mm watchband of your choosing and use it for your watch. The adapter itself can fit all styles of the apple watch and comes in silver and gray. The company will also plan to sell some of its own bands after the launch of the adapter at a much lower cost compared to Apple’s.

03Example of the adapters in gray

“I’m a huge Apple fan by nature and I happened to watch the keynote last year…” said Hudson “They claimed it was the most personable device ever made but they only offered 18 watchbands” He relates the adapter and bands to Iphone cases with its various shapes, colors and styles that can really bring out someone’s personality.

Possible style options when wearing the watch thanks to the adapter.

After the keynote, he put together a team of students from a variety of disciplines to help him design, create and market the idea to others. Before the start of its Kickstarter, he secured a patent and had talks with manufacturers who were interested in making the adapters and bands. It has been featured on many popular apple blogs, websites and news media with the Kickstarter funded with over $50,000 in less than a week since its launch. They are hoping to start off selling them online first then possibly expand to retail in the future.

 click1The team of students and their mentor as featured on their kickstarter.

Check our their Kickstarter and website. Make sure to check them out at Imagine RIT to have a first look and feel of the adapter itself!

Exhibit Featurette #3: A-B-Cs of Hacking

“Grab that highlighted thing over there and drag it to the machine” explained Jaime Geiger. “Hit launch and now you got your red lightning bots”

In less than 3 clicks, I hacked my first computer. I blue screened it, took screenshots, and grabbed all of its account passwords. It was awesome. This emotional high of power in my finger tips brought computer security into perspective. Not all computer hacking is this easy but this exhibit shows you how vulnerable your computers and devices actually are.

hack1 Jaime Geiger and Nicholas Piazza with their hacking demo

Nicholas Piazza and Jaime Geiger, both 3rd year computer security majors, and their team of fellow students in RIT’s Competitive CyberSecurity Club (RC3) will be showing visitors not only how to hack their first computer but tips to help keep themselves secure from common threats. They will be covering famous and common vulnerabilities/exploits like the recent Heartbleed and MS08_067_netapi which has made Windows XP obsolete and unsafe.

hack2Heartbleed demo and explanation in comic form (link)

My first foray into hacking was through a program know as Armitage which allowed for easy to set-up hacking scenarios and visuals to see how things are being done in real time. Exploits and vulnabilties for the session were set-up for me to use and I was shadowed by the men with instructions.

When an exploit is found, many things can happen depending on who finds it. Many companies, like google, have dedicated teams whose purpose is to find and fix exploits that have not been found before. The ethical way would be to disclose the  exploit to a company in hopes that they fix it. “Normal practice is 30-90 days” said Piazza. “If a company still hasn’t gotten anywhere with it, some people decide to release it as open-source to let the public know”

 hack4Exposed administrator passwords of a demo banking site

The team is hoping to keep people informed about information security and why its becoming more and more prevalent in the real world. “This is only scratching the surface of all this stuff” said Geigar “This is what we do, day in and day out and we love it”

Exhibit Featurettes #2: Simply Accentastic

I got ten fingers to the sky,
My back to the wall, my white flag high,
Hair, lips, just like a gun,
She’s got silver bullets on her tongue,
He’s deep under her spell,
I’m screamin’ out, but it just won’t help

   -Put the Gun down, ZZ Ward

The voices that have been making hearts stop since 2009 with their unique sound and atypical repotire for an acepella group. Vocal Accent (VA) is an all-female group that sing a variety of songs like: “Dead Memories” by Slipknot, “How you doin” by Lil Mix and my personal favorite “Put the Gun down” by ZZ Ward. The songs are arranged by members themselves or found and modified. They’ve lended their talents to a variety of shows around Rochester like Fringe Fest and often collaborate with other acapella groups for on-campus shows.

Raelynn Janicke, 3rd year audio engineering and current business manager for Vocal Accent and Jane Brown, 1st year new media marketing are two members of the group who adore the diversity and singing styles of their fellow members. “We have girls in sororities, girls with tattoos…” said Jane “and as Raelynn said earlier we don’t do the typical pop kind of music you would see in “Pitch Perfect”.

Soloist Lisa Castore and the rest of VA performing at their 2014 Accentastic Concert

The acapella groups on campus hold auditions for new members every year. Raelynn auditioned due to some convincing from her high school friends and doesn’t regret that decision “I have grown so much as a person and singer “ said Raelynn “you are so influenced by the people around you and it makes you a better person”.

They are currently deciding on their song list for Imagine RIT, hoping to expand their audience and fanbase beyond RIT students and faculty. If you wish to get a taste of their songs before imagine, their next show dubbed Accentastic is on April 25th in Ingle Auditorium at 7:30pm

TSThe entire group performing at a concert

To anyone that have never seen them live, Raeylnn can only say to “Expect the unexpected”. Check out their website at for more infomation and videos of other performances. Catch them and other performers on our many performance stages throughout the day during Imagine RIT.

Exhibit Featurettes #1: Custom helmet padding and you

Imagine this: you are buying a helmet for football practice or because you plan to head butt someone (I don’t recommend this). In most stores, there are pre-determined sizes and styles which leaves little room for anyone outside or inside those sizes.  What if you can get your head scanned and get yourself a custom-made helmet for any occasion that you can make yourself in a matter of hours? Before you scoff this off as magic, take a closer look at this team’s project.

Kayla Wheeler, a 5th year biomedical engineering major, and her team have designed a method to create custom protective padding for helmets. They do this by scanning the individual’s head through a special machine, use software to map and configure the padding, then use a 3D printer to create the final product. The scanning process takes about 5-10 mins and the printing takes a few hours. In addition to creating the helmets, the team plans to test the padding during their Imagine RIT exhibit by having a drop test against other helmets on the market.

3dhelmet_5The 3D-printer used for the project, MakerBot Replicator 2X.

The idea came from Kayla’s start-up company, which she runs with another student. They focus on creating padding for helmets to help prevent concussions. A professor at RIT, Dr. Denis Cormier, caught wind of the project after it was featured in a Democrat & Chronicle article and motivated her to show it off at Imagine RIT while expanding the project. The exhibit will be titled: “3D Printed Customized Personal Protection Headwear”

3dhelmet_103-D Printer creating some of the padding material

The team hopes to get the project to a point where the customer can man the entire process. They can come in, scan their head and wait for the printer to create the padding while adding or removing parts if they wish. They are excited to show off their exhibit to visitors and students, hoping to create some examples to show off.

3dhelmet_12Helmet creation and head scan of a teammate in a modelling software

“We want them to understand the process of how the whole thing will work” said Wheeler. “We will have the test area to show how these products are tested and have the printer running to show off some samples.”

3dhelmet_11The team on the project from left to right: Tiffany Gundler, Scott Quenville, Nathan Marshall, Kayla Wheeler, Chris Casella. Missing: Christian Blank

If you think custom helmets aren’t in your area consider this thought from a professor advising the group: “If you buy a helmet you hope it fits.” said Professor John Kaemmerlen. “If you do this, the notion is that you are guaranteed that it fits exactly.”


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