I lived at the Rochester Institute of Technology from August 1997 to June 2002. It was a really nice place once I finally got used to some of the weather. For my last three years at RIT, I lived both inside and within sight of the Computer Engineering building. My University Commons apartment, which I shared with three extraordinary roommates named Sean Brost, Judd Jenne, and Bob Faber, was closer to the RIT academic side of campus than the commuter parking lots. The picture to the left shows the campus from my apartment building's atrium door.
Of course, no convenience comes without cost, and that spiffy little sidewalk was a demilitarized construction zone for almost an entire year. From the top of the hill my apartment building is visible, but it was hard to get to without walking through the mud. The amusing thing about the construction is that they actually raised the ground level by about 10 feet. When they were building the road, they spent weeks packing down the dirt. Then they set the storm drain pipes on top of the flat surface. "Idiots," I remarked at the time, "the storm drains are supposed to go under the road!" But then they continued piling more dirt and gravel on top of the drainage piping, and put the road on top. It was a pain but was fun to watch, and of course the project took forever. After the construction, the new landscaping definitely improved the appearance of the area.
Kate Gleason College of Engineering
The James E. Gleason building is the home of the Kate Gleason College of Engineering. The Electrical, Mechanical, and Software Engineering departments in the Gleason Building, while Microelectronic and Computer Engineering are attached. It frequently snows a lot in Rochester, but Facilities Management is reasonably proficient at snow removal. The picture of the front of the Gleason Building was taken during the blizzard of January 1998, the only time that RIT was closed by a snow emergency while I was there from 1997 - 2002.
RIT Computer Engineering
Back in 1997-2002, the Computer Engineering department occupied the Center for Microelectronic and Computer Engineering with the hospitality and hotel management department. No! Just kidding! Computer Engineering shared "Building 17" with Microelectronic Engineering. It's connected to the Gleason Building by a large atrium so you can walk from one to the other without needing to put on your coat. That's a very important architectural feature for Rochester. The Gleason Building also connects to the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Science, and the library through tunnels, which makes it even better! When I arrived in the late 90s, the Center for Microelectronic and Computer Engineering was one of the newest facilities on campus. I remember back on my student orientation days and first few days on campus seeking out the building just to get a little bit of air conditioning! Since I left the new Golisano College of Computer and Communications Technology and a few other buildings have been constructed; a few years after I left, the Department of Computer Engineering moved to a new addition in the Engineering Center. It's amazing how much that place has changed!
Half of the Building 17 contined the Computer Engineering facilities, and the other half a cleanroom for the Microelectronic Engineering department. RIT Microelecronic Engineering can make their own chips from VLSI layouts without leaving the building. The lobby (right) contains mezzanine offices for staff members and graduate students, ductwork and pipe chases for the ventilation, administrative offices for management, and large glass walls for viewing the cleanrooms and harassing the students sporting the latest fashion in bunny suits.
The Computer Engineering facilities in that building included several general purpose and special laboratories, with multi-purpose classrooms in the basement. The laboratory facilities were exemplary. All Computer Engineering students had unlimited access to the labs with rather liberally supplied electronic component shelves. In the unlikely event that one suddenly had a desire to breadboard a quick circuit, test equipment was available 24 hours a day in the Digital Computer Organization (DCO) lab. VHDL and VLSI design tools, including Mentor Graphics schematic capture and Synopsis VHDL capture, as well as synthesis and PAL and FPGA burning tools, were ready for use on the HP Visualize Workstations in the VLSI lab. Specialized labs for parallel processing (my lab!) and realtime design projects are available in the department. The drama of the time was when Rick, the facilities manager, turned a hallway between the DCO and VLSI labs into a storeroom, and nobody actually stopped for the red stop signs. As I look back at the pictures of these two rooms, I can't believe how much time I spent in them--and how much I learned within their confines.
Past the Engineering Building
When leaving the Computer Engineering or the Gleason Building, it's almost impossible to miss RIT's mechanical engineering display case. RIT mechanical engineering actively participates in international automotive and aerospace competitions, with student projects frequently winning top honors. Past vehicles are liberally sprinkled throughout the Engineering buildings as well as the Office of Admissions.
RIT's original academic buildings surround a common green area. In the picture on the left, the Gannett building, home of RIT's School of American Crafts and College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, is visible under the overhang of the Gleason Building. The quad contains ample seating, which is very useful for occupation in spring months when your project is done and classmates en route to Computer Science labs require taunting. The quad also has a rotating infinity sculpture, but it didn't rotate when I first arrived at RIT. Replacing the motor required years of fundraising and red tape traversal by an engineering student group.
RIT's most prominent artwork while I was there was the RIT Tiger sculpture. Opposite the tiger is the entry to the other half of the Gannett Building, which used to contain the Printing Department's offset press, facilities for New Media Publishing, and the SGI Laboratory for the animators. My brother, the New Media Publishing major, as well as my former roommate, the Industrial Illustration major, lived in this building, although in very different parts. In 1999, RIT's Information Technology Services moved to the Gannett building, so I worked in the northeast corner of that building for a few years, too.
Out to the Residence Halls
The highest spot on campus, the Seventh Floor of the George Eastman Building, was occupied by RIT's President, Albert J. Simone, and the Vice President, Barry Culhane. My mother used to refer to RIT's administration as "Simone and Poombah" in honor of the Lion King. Actually, all of RIT's administration, from Dr. Simone to the Provost and my deans have been very approachable, and quite friendly every time I have had the opportunity to talk to them. Now if I could only find out where the Chair of the Academic Senate keeps the mace...
There are only two ways from the academic side of campus to the residence halls where all of the little first year students live: through the breezeway past the gym, hockey rink, and pool, or around the gym, hockey rink, and pool. The official "Quarter Mile" from the residence halls goes... under the Student Life Center, over the bridge, and through the breezeway, and to the academic quad. It's also possible to take a blasted long detour and walk around the hockey rink's Zamboni snow pile. The first time I was at RIT in June 1996, I though the Zamboni ice pile was snow leftover from winter. I was sure a stupid Nebraskan!
These final pictures are from the sidewalk between the Eastman administration building, the Bausch and Lomb building containing the Office of Admissions and the Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services, and the hockey rink. The picture on the left is the Bausch and Lomb Building. My co-op coordinator occupies the top floor office on the left. The road with the flags for Parents Weekend leaves campus. Goodbye!