How did a summer job at Camp David after high school lead Industrial & Science Technology Instructor Jim Fugate to RIT/NTID? According to Fugate, it was his interaction with two “fascinating” deaf co-workers that led to his wanting more exposure to the deaf community. They suggested he attend a college with deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and because Fugate, who is hard-of-hearing, was interested in architecture, he enrolled at RIT/NTID.
“This made perfect sense to me,” he says. “I got the best of both worlds — majoring in the technical program I was interested in and being with the community I wanted to associate with.”
After receiving his degree in Architectural Technology in 1987, Fugate worked for a Rochester architecture firm for 11 years. He trained himself on computeraided drafting (CAD) technology and grew into positions of increasing responsibility. During his last few years with the company, he had the opportunity to design facilities at RIT/NTID.
His ongoing relationship with RIT/NTID didn’t stop there. Fugate frequently presented at NTID’s annual Summer Vestibule Program, a two-week orientation for students to sample the programs offered at RIT/NTID.
When the Computer-Aided Drafting Technology (CADT) program was added to NTID’s Industrial & Science Technologies Department in 2000, Fugate was asked to teach in the new department.
“Coming from the corporate world to the academic environment has been challenging, but so rewarding,” says Fugate. “Before, I worked independently and with other professionals. My goal was to design a building to the right specifications. Now my goal is to work collaboratively with the students to motivate them and to prepare them for the workplace of the future, which is constantly changing.”
Fugate continued his education once he joined RIT/NTID, earning his master’s degree from RIT in Information Technology.
Outside of the classroom Fugate enjoys spending time with his wife and with the “joy of his life,” his 3-year-old son. Fugate also enjoys playing piano, reading, gardening and attending church.
“If I can connect with my students and help facilitate their preparation for a successful career, then my own career change will have been worth the effort,” says Fugate.
This story appeared in the Spring/Summer 2006 issue of FOCUS Magazine.