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IT@Cornell Profile: Roberta Militello

Roberta Militello, instructional designer and developer, Academic Technologies, was recently honored for her 20 years of service to Cornell. She began her career at the university as a web administrator for the College of Veterinary Medicine in 1997, relocating to Ithaca, NY, after working abroad and studying fine art in Munich, Germany. Over the years, Militello has been a constant within the campus community that would become IT@Cornell. She counts among her many accomplishments serving as lead developer for a crack web team that, in the burgeoning aughts, reimagined the Johnson School of Management's online presence from the ground up.

Militello first joined Academic Technologies in 2003 as part of the Faculty Innovation in Teaching group, a post she still excels at today. She has managed multiple award-winning instructional projects, and has published and presented extensively. Most recently, she spoke at Duke University during the inaugural Construct3D conference, a national three-day event focused on digital fabrication and 3D printing applications in education.

Militello’s presentation, Pivoting in Creative Space: Disruption as a Design Thinking Generator, addressed instructional techniques that encourage students to adapt and problem-solve during the creative process through multimodal learning and explorations. The talk was inspired by a studio class she taught in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at the College of Human Ecology during the fall 2016 semester, and reflects her current interests in 3D modeling, printing, fabrication, and prototyping.

Last summer, she served as the production lead for the first-ever shark-focused MOOC, Sharks! Global Biodiversity, Biology, and Conservation, a four-week course covering the latest in shark science, including “thinking like a shark.” Shark MOOC, as it's familiarly known, was so well received that “it’s taken on a life of its own,” according to Militello. The project emerged from a partnership between Cornell University, the University of Queensland, and edX, the nonprofit online learning platform founded by Harvard and MIT. It stands as Cornell’s first MOOC collaboration with another university, and the online debut coincided with the Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week.

In 2011, Militello received her Master of Architecture from the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning as part of Cornell’s Employee Degree Program, and became a LEED-certified sustainable building practitioner in 2013. This opened even more doors for her engagement with the university community and beyond. The breadth of her work is expansive, including serving as project manager for, a joint effort by Faculty Innovation in Teaching and the College of Human Ecology, and home of the Intypes (Interior Archetypes) Research and Teaching Project. It’s the first research site of its kind to assemble contemporary design theory in a digital database using interior architecture photographs. In her role, Militello worked one-on-one with faculty to disseminate their research, making it widely accessible to students, educators, and practitioners in the field.

Outside of work, her expertise benefits our local neighborhoods and families. Militello is a passionate advocate for accessible, affordable and energy-efficient housing design and construction. As a site selection committee member with Habitat for Humanity of Tompkins and Cortland Counties, she develops architectural plans, and identifies buildable land for current and future projects. She recently worked on the volunteer team that drafted the blueprints for Habitat’s Fall Creek build, and a property in Trumansburg. “As a friend and mentor, Roberta is prolific in her commitments and accomplishments across the board,” said her colleague and fellow Habitat volunteer, Julia Leonard, IT training program assistant at Cornell. “I’m impressed by her leadership, and the generous, creative vision that influences everything she does.”

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