Imagine RIT returns with nearly 400 exhibits

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Imagine RIT runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 27. (Photo: Scott Hamilton/RIT)

If Rochester Institute of Technology has its way, tens of thousands of visitors will experience wonder on Saturday. The university is gearing up for the 16th edition of Imagine RIT: Creativity and Innovation Festival

With nearly 400 exhibits, up roughly 50 from last year, the campus-wide fest once again caters to a variety of interests this year, including Taylor Swift fans. From detecting deepfakes to playing with a device for grocery stores to inspect berries and reduce waste, Imagine RIT will put creativity and ingenuity on display. Rochester Regional Health is the festival’s premier sponsor this year.

“This is an interactive festival. So don’t be afraid to try something and ask the exhibitors lots of questions,” says RIT president David Munson. “Let’s inspire the next generation of problem solvers by connecting young people to the wonders of science, technology, engineering, math, design, business, health sciences, the liberal arts, and the arts.”

For instance, the berry analysis machine stems from a freshman imaging project. The device is designed to scan and monitor the quality of berries for supermarkets. Typically, this process is a manual one.

“We built this in collaboration with Wegmans here in Rochester. They helped us better understand the process and how our device could be used in warehouses for more accurate fruit scaling,” says Luke Chrzan, of Middletown, N.J. “We designed it by identifying issues strawberries have and the best way to detect them in mass, via imaging.”

Those curious about artificial intelligence and the detection of deepfakes can whet their appetite with an exhibit that challenges them to determine which audio is real or manufactured.

“I’ve been working on this project with a multidisciplinary team since I was in high school, made possible with a National Science Foundation grant through the University of Maryland, Baltimore County,” says Kifekachukwu Nwosu, a first-year computer science major from Ellicott City, Md. “I’m excited to put it out there. The end goal is to create algorithms to detect deepfakes. And we’re almost there.”

After visitors listen to the audio, they will be shown in real time a demonstration of Nwosu’s matrix profiling algorithm. The algorithm detects linguistic features that help in deciphering audio deepfakes. Guests will briefly learn about expert-defined linguistic features that can be useful cues when an audio’s authenticity is in doubt.

For the musically curious, the interactive exhibit Transient uses animation and live-action video production and technologies to visualize music played on a keyboard. It is work that spawned from a radial cinema class taken by Colin O’Brien, a third-year film and animation major from Albany, Calif. He collaborated with Will Hagele, a third-year computer engineering major from Philadelphia and Avyay Natarajan, a computer science major from New Jersey.

Members of the audience can play a piano using a paintbrush. The music is visualized on screen in real time through animation and colorful videos. These graphics fade with the notes. Even if a same song is played, the images will alter slightly reflecting the impermanent and unique experience of music, Transient makers say. 

Imagine RIT will also offer an escape room experience—a popular activity for many. RIT’s  Hospitality and Tourism Management program has turned a classroom in Max Lowenthal Hall into Echos of the Midnight Manor: An Escape Room Experiece. In groups of six, people can follow clues to complete a series of games, puzzles and other activities to escape the room.

Saunders College of Business tackles Swift, discussing the economic impact—Swiftonomics—of the recording artist and her fans. Visitors can make and keep their own beaded friendship bracelets, popular with Swift and her fans; answer trivia questions; and listen to presentations from seven students who have researched Swift.

“Taylor Swift is a popular talking point in my classes,” says Matthew Vollmer, who teaches digital marketing, consumer behavior and business analytics. “A lot of my students incorporated her in our group discussions.”

Another Saunders exhibit is the World’s Largest KerPlunk Game. At 33 feet tall, built with PVC tubing and poultry mesh, the game will be filled with 50 beach balls. Each ball bears the name of a company or an image.

“Saunders has fun too,” says senior lecturer Rick Mislan. “There will be some business tie to it about how the stock market works, but ideally we want to show that business students can have fun.”

RIT’’s international campuses will also be represented at Imagine RIT. Students from RIT China, will share an electroencephalogram-wearable headband that will translate brainwaves into a visual digital experience. A virtual reality happiness generator created with AI from RIT Kosovo and an interactive exhibit to explore the impact of human activity in a delta’s ecosystem are among the international students’ exhibits.

The human hamster wheel and the concrete canoe—Imagine RIT attendee favorites—will continue to entertain and educate visitors this year.

“We are so happy to once again invite the public to see what our brilliant students and faculty are doing to solve problems, create businesses, expand the boundary of possibilities, and make our world a better place,” says festival director Ann Ielapi.

The festival, which is free to attend, runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 27. To view the location of exhibits, use the Imagine RIT map.

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

One thought on “Imagine RIT returns with nearly 400 exhibits

  1. A fantastic event, period. I took my grandkids every year. That brings me to the RCSD/RCSB.




    This is simply a must attend event. It will provide demonstrations and allow them to ask questions of the students participating. It will give meaning and understanding and connect the perceived boring academics with opportunities.

    Someone ought to step up and provide the bus transportation. This is well worth the effort to attend.

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