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RIT pushing tourism studies to new heights

By Matthew Daneman
Democrat and Chronicle

(February 7, 2001) -- Rochester Institute of Technology has a five-year mission to go where no school has gone before -- to a bachelor's degree in space tourism.

The school already offers the only higher education courses available in that field.
 Now it plans to widen the offerings to classes covering space-related manufacturing, packaging, nutrition, food service and even fashion, said Francis Domoy, chairman of the hospitality and service management department.
  To create the academics behind the diploma, RIT over the next five years will add several specialized faculty members in orbital engineering; horticulture; and heating, ventilation and air conditioning, Domoy said.
  The teaching and faculty research will revolve around taking a hotel on Earth and replicating is as much as possible in space, Domoy said.
  He said about 50 students have gone through the space tourism course since it started in the winter of 1999 quarter. The school added the classes with the anticipation that commercial space travel and tourism were inevitable and coming soon.
  While RIT's program remains unique, Domoy said it may not be so for long. " I'm sure there are minds working" at other colleges. he said.
  The plan for a whole degree in space tourism follows the same thinking.

  Yesterday, a California entrepreneur came to RIT to pitch his plan to have space stations filled with hotels and factories orbiting Earth by decade's end. "Naturally, RIT graduates will be the first managers of that hotel in space," said Gene Meyers of the Space Island Group Inc. Which is what Gail 18- year-old hospitality major from Ossining Westchester County, cornered Meyers after his presentation to question him about job opportunities with the Space Island Group. When the first hotels and tourists sites go up, she said, "I want to be one of the first managers. This is totally feasible. (and) to be be on the cutting edge is really cool."

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