Investing in students' academic journey

Rochester Institute of Technology's programmes seamlessly integrate technology, providing a platform for out-of-the-box thinking



By Dr Ali Raza

Published: Wed 16 Jun 2021, 9:42 AM

Last updated: Thu 17 Jun 2021, 7:31 PM

Today, there is a wider acceptance of online collaboration tools for learning. At first, the use of tools for automation in education were used with a risk of an educator being branded as being lazy. But the push created by the pandemic has allowed most of us to see the benefit that instant feedback provides or the sharing of a screen to let the learners realise the experience that is trying to be imparted to them.

Dr Ali Raza

Associate Professor of Networking and Computing

RIT Dubai

The programmes at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)have been delivered through an online learning management system (LMS). There are a large number of features and capabilities available to the educators, which were used to improve the learning journey for students. However, a true reflection has been the rapid integration of Zoom into the LMS. This has allowed educators to ensure that key topics are recorded and shared with students to review. This integration is an example of how RIT has ensured that its students have been at the forefront of the decisions to enhance the technologies developed and used.

The digital transformation lab is an example of how technology has been integrated into degree programmes. The lab was funded by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority's Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Fund and includes a private on-premises cloud infrastructure. This has allowed our students to have access to scalable computing power on demand. In addition to the cloud infrastructure, the lab offers students a maker space, which allows them to explore ideas beyond the classroom and the curriculum. Students have access to the components that can be pieced together to architect innovative security solutions.

American higher education

The curriculum offered at RIT is based on experiential learning. American higher education balances the requirements for scholarly education as well as vocational education. Students are well-composed all-rounders in terms of using their minds for critical and creative thinking as well as using their skills for innovation. There is a real drive to prepare the future generation to hit the ground running when they graduate, not just earn a degree, but an experience.

The Mosaed Project

Arabic speaking medical practitioners in Dubai are challenged with different dialects given the diversity in the city. In partnership with Dubai Healthcare Authority, RIT Dubai is working towards an artificial intelligence (AI) powered solution to overcome the barriers of dialectal Arabic. Mosaed has been developed to listen to the patient when they speak to a doctor, identify the Arabic dialect and provide the doctor with an accurate statement of what the patient is saying, reducing the risk of misinterpretation or mistranslation and thereby leading to a more accurate diagnostic outcome. The students involved in the project are Arjun Nair, Mohammed Adham, Habiba Elshahhat, Sherif Reda Hassan and Amr Mohamed, which I headed along with Dr Jinane Al Mounsef, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering.

In the coming years, RIT Dubai sees Mosaed as a capability enhancement for medical practitioners across the Arabic world and beyond. There is an element of advanced signal processing in Mosaed that goes beyond natural language processing. This is a significant step towards the digital transformation of medical diagnosis. We hope to expand this to other countries where the English language is used as a go-to when there are multiple languages and cultures in the same city.

Career opportunities

In courses taught at RIT, the focus on experiential learning goes beyond the classroom and curriculum. Students are required to participate in a co-op programme, which involves an internship of several months distributed across the years of study. Some students have reflected on the difference between their first and second co-op, whereby the advancement of knowledge after the first has improved their learning style and allowed them to contribute better to their own learning. 

Future of RIT

The evolution of technology is continuous and keeping abreast of the latest innovation is not enough. To encourage and nurture UAE talent, we look forward to an opportunity to fund research, which is not focused on products and services only, where the assessment is based on what will be the return on investment (ROI) for the outcome of this research. The positive journey and experience that a student goes through with their professor is the real measure of ROI. We help them go beyond the curriculum and find their own identity, building their own template for life. If the outcome is something that can lead to a business opportunity, then there is nothing better, but it is not the goal. This is the way an individual will truly learn to learn.

Yousef Al-Assaf

President

Rochester Institute of Technology

"At RIT, we create opportunities and challenges for all our students. Our new smart and innovative campus is designed to be an open lab and innovation ecosystem, where we help students beyond university education. We prepare them to design their future by exposing them to various real-life challenges, encouraging them to create solutions, which we test in our new campus with the support of our strategic partners who are hosted at the university and beyond. As a result, students are provided with industry-endorsed certifications issued by our strategic partners in addition to their American degrees from RIT in New York. This approach also helped us in providing an ecosystem to our partners, where they would find the resources, premises and labs to address their challenges and work on solving real-life problems they face at their organisations. At RIT, we advance the exceptional!"

Al Amin Ashrif

BSc Electrical Engineering

Siemens

"The programme recognition and the accreditation in addition to the inspiring faculty staff, who are all dedicated to a student's success, make RIT Dubai one of the best universities in the region. Support through the vast hands-on learning experience, innovation and the cornerstone of the co-op (internship) programme makes RIT students completely ready to face the next challenge."


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