Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
With a vibrant community, professors who inspire, and the hands-on experience you need to dive into your field with confidence.
Adeesha Ekanayake grew up in Sri Lanka, an island nation off the coast of India. When political tensions closed the university he was attending, he wanted a more stable educational environment. So he flew 9,000 miles away from home to go to Ithaca College.
“Sri Lanka is a small country,” he said. “Getting off the plane at JFK, I’d never seen such scale. I felt cut off from my moorings.”
Fortunately, he’d enrolled in Ithaca College’s HOME program, a multicultural housing arrangement for international students. “The best thing I did was keep my door open. I met a lot of international students as homesick as I was. Plus, we were serious about our studies. We clicked. We got over our culture shock.”
A computer science major, Adeesha and three other students came up with an idea for an app that can scan garments in clothing stores to show negative environmental impacts regarding how the clothes were made. The team decided to enter their idea in the Business Idea Competition held by the college’s School of Business—and finished first in the software category. The team enjoyed splitting the $5,000 prize, but it was the “idea” part of the competition that sparked Adeesha’s passion for research.
“I helped a faculty member with her research, and she encouraged me to start projects of my own. At a lot of larger institutions, you wouldn’t get a chance to spend time with your professors and get to know them personally. At IC, that’s a given.”
Another one of Adeesha’s projects is a video game for physical therapy patients. Exercises recorded by the therapist are performed by a virtual figure on a Microsoft Kinect system. Appearing as a second figure, the patient is challenged to mimic the virtual one. The more accurately the exercise is performed, the more points the patient earns.
Adeesha also worked with assistant professor of computer science Doug Turnbull on MeUse, an Internet radio recommender. When a listener uses MeUse to search for an artist, it recommends three Internet radio stations and provides information to help the user choose. A paper on the project was accepted for presentation at the 14th International Society for Music Information Retrieval Conference.
“I’d originally planned going back to Sri Lanka after graduation, but there are too many employment and research opportunities in the U.S. to pass up, and IC opened my eyes to them.”
“I lived on the north fork of Long Island, and I was the only bassoon player on the north fork. The only one,” Sean says. So when it came time to choose a major at Ithaca College, Sean wasn’t worried about taking a different approach from some of his peers.
Many students go to college and make a decision: to focus on one field of study, learn about a specific area, and pick up related courses along the way. But some students, like Sean, have more varied interests. The young bassoonist had discovered a passion for science in high school and wanted to include both music and physics in his educational journey. At Ithaca College, an emphasis on cross-disciplinary learning made it easy for Sean to combine these very different fields and discover a career that draws from each.
“Acoustical engineering really brings them together. Musicians play in spaces all the time, and some are good spaces and some are just bad spaces,” says Sean. “As a performer I know that a good space involves good reverberation times. You will get liveness in the hall, your sound will be carried, but you don’t want it to be too live. If everything’s reflecting too well in the hall, you can get echoes, and it can make everything kind of muddy.”
Working with Luke Keller, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Alex Perialas, associate professor from the School of Music, Sean is doing an acoustical analysis of IC’s Ford Hall auditorium. The analysis will help determine what acoustical improvements will be made during upcoming renovations. “We’re looking at frequency response and reverberation times in Ford Hall to get a quantitative measurement of why we think the renovation has helped.”
Sean also landed a summer internship with SoundSense, an architectural acoustics firm on Long Island, where he worked alongside engineers to develop his skills. The internship helped Sean realize that his decision to combine music and physics was the right path for him. “Talking to the CEO about everything I would be doing caused me to realize that I’ve never been as excited. That’s really what I want to do. That’s my passion.”
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