I Went To A Hackathon and Actually Won, With Some Help Of Course…

On Saturday, February 29th, 2020, Pace University’s Women in Tech club held its first-ever hackathon, Sunflower Hack, on the New York City campus. This would be the second hackathon I attended as a sophomore at Pace. Unfortunately, despite anticipating the event throughout the week, when I arrived I was exhausted from completing an assignment the night before. At that moment, I feared that my lack of energy would prevent me from enjoying a day I’d been eagerly awaiting. However, it wasn’t long before I realized that wouldn’t be the case. Luckily for me, I was fortunate enough to find an amazing group of smart and talented women who uplifted my spirits significantly. What started off as a presumably bad day ended up being quite the opposite. At the end of the hackathon, I left having won best theme hack alongside my newly-found team of Women in Tech members Nia Davis, Muirrin O’Connell, and Abbi Keppler.

During the week of the hackathon, I was so occupied with school, work, and family that it wasn’t until I got there that I realized I forgot one major thing: a team. While a majority of the participants were meeting up with their groups and strategizing, I was scanning the room for potential teammates. Following the opening remarks and an inspirational speech from Pace alumna Olga Bogomolova, I was finally able to start assembling a team. Although initially daunting, the process was actually a lot easier than I thought. Within five minutes I found an amazing team and we jumped straight into business.

After going through multiple ideas, we eventually decided on one that Abbi proposed and immediately got started. Our plan was to create an app called Cultivate that would help promote and encourage productivity in our target audience. Given that there are many apps that provide a similar service, we realized that in order to make ours unique, we needed to offer a noteworthy incentive for our users, something that we knew most people would enjoy. That’s why we agreed on making that incentive plants and animals. By completing tasks and staying productive, the user would then gain points towards buying new gear or upgrading their ideal plant or pet. Since the fundamental purpose of the app was decided on, we began to discuss potential features that could be useful to the app’s development. One such feature that we decided on including was a function that would allow users to sync their app calendar to the calendar on their mobile device, thus making it much easier to keep everything in one place. We also concluded that the app should have a feature that categorizes tasks by levels of priority so users can focus on completing their most important tasks first. During this brainstorming process, it was easy to think of even more useful functions, however, we decided that given the time that we had, it would be smarter to focus on implementing all the necessary features first. Anything else that we were unable to add could always be addressed towards the end of our presentation.

Later, after eight hours of hacking, it was finally time for the presentations. Seeing everyone’s ideas was probably one of my favorite parts about the hackathon because it highlighted the ingenuity of each individual group. In the beginning, we were all tasked with creating a hack centered around the singular theme of authenticity, yet in the end, we all interpreted that concept in multiple ways. Some of us came up with ideas centered around food services and self-help, while others created hacks to help with medical analysis and the early detection of natural disasters.

When it came time for the judges to announce the winners, I had no idea that we’d win one of the prizes. I was just so content with having been able to participate that it didn’t register that we were called until moments afterward. As we went up to receive our grand prize (which by that I mean our portable drives), I realized that it wasn’t just the prize that excited me. I was excited because winning was the last thing on my mind, yet it was definitely the cherry on top of an already amazing day. That night, on the train back home, I left feeling so grateful for the experience I had, along with the reward that came with it. Going to a hackathon is an immensely invaluable experience that I’d encourage anyone to partake in if they can.

John Madias: Interview with a New Seidenberg Graduate

When students graduate from Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems, they may depart the proverbial nest but they certainly don’t leave our community. John Madias, who recently earned his Master’s in Computer Science, is one whose future we are particularly excited to follow. 

We asked John a few questions about his experience at Pace, his career so far, and what he plans for his future.


What program did you study at Pace and why did you pick that one?

The MS in Computer Science. I have been working at CM&F Group for the last four years, currently as the Director of Internal Systems/Development Specialist, and decided early on that I wanted to advance my skills and abilities in my current position. I currently work on the Operations Team for CM&F Group, an insurance company mainly offering malpractice insurance. Prior to these experiences, I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and worked as the Director of Marketing at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. Through my professional and educational journey to expand my knowledge in the field of marketing, I discovered the importance of basic coding knowledge and began to code on my own. I quickly found myself enjoying that very much and the rest is history.

Did anything surprise you during your degree? 

I really enjoyed learning about mobile app development. I was a little hesitant at first, given the stresses and complexities that come with mobile development work, but learning the very basics to the more advanced concepts became a really enjoyable experience. It’s a very fulfilling feeling to develop a mobile app to fruition, from the beginning stages of a project – literally drawing a sketch of your app with a pen and paper – to running the final user-friendly product.

John Madias, MS in Computer Science ’20

What are you most proud of in all of the things you have done over the last few years?

In the last few years, I am most proud of being able to manage all of my responsibilities successfully. Since the Fall 2017 semester when I started my Master’s degree, I have worked a full-time job, kept a healthy, daily workout routine and even started as a student at Renzo Gracie Jiu Jitsu in early 2019. I knew being able to keep a healthy work-school-life balance would be a challenge, but I am proud to say I was able to achieve all of my goals whole-heartedly.

Balance is important. Kudos for achieving that. Any other standout moments? 

Algorithms and Computing Theory was not an easy class, but it sure was entertaining. Despite having to grasp the complex theories and essential algorithms, Professor Thomas M. Schmidt made this class fun and interesting with his unique style of teaching. He referred to the class as the “Kingdom of Algorithmia” and, from time to time, would come to class dressed as a King. Certainly something I will never forget.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to future students?

One piece of advice I would give to future students is that if you really want something, you will find the time to do the work and get it done. There is no room for excuses. Just put the work in.

Finally, and importantly, what’s next for John Madias?

Hmm, what’s next? CM&F Group has become more than a job and like an extended family to me. I will continue to work there applying my new skills and abilities to better the firm’s business and make the process of applying for insurance better for our clients. I also have a lovely girlfriend of four years and am excited to see what the future holds for us.


Through his dedication, motivation, and discipline, John has demonstrated traits that we like to refer to as “the quintessential Seidenberg student” – someone who puts in the work, faces challenges head on, is scrappy and always ready to take advantage of the next opportunity.

Congratulations on making it through your master’s program, John! It’s a significant achievement and we are excited to hear about where it takes you.

Pace University professor Zhan Zhang awarded $175,000 NSF grant for wearable tech for emergency healthcare workers

In a time where bad news abounds, it’s essential to share the good – and the coronavirus can’t keep Seidenberg faculty down!

Information Technology  professor Zhan Zhang of the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University was recently awarded a $175,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to pursue research in wearable technologies for emergency healthcare workers.

“This is my long-standing research interest,” said Dr. Zhang, who has been doing research in the healthcare technology field since 2011. “Emergency care work is inherently important to society as it deals with life-threatening injuries and emergency situations. Improving the work efficiency of emergency care will lead to better patient outcomes and decreased medical errors.”

Dr. Zhang’s almost decade of work in the field has brought him to his current project: designing and developing novel technologies to support decision making and collaboration in highly dynamic medical environments where decisions must be made quickly and acted upon immediately, such as when paramedics have to keep someone’s heart beating while transporting them to a hospital.

Dr. Zhang’s prior research on emergency care teams enabled him to “identify an essential gap in real-time capture and integration of relevant patient data in the field by paramedics.”

Throughout the two-year term of the grant support, Dr. Zhang aims to develop wearable devices that can be used by paramedics to 1) collect real-time patient data in a hands-free manner, and 2) communicate with ER and trauma teams at the receiving hospital. For example, paramedics transporting a patient to a hospital can wear a smart glass device that transmits what they are seeing to colleagues awaiting the patient at the hospital, enabling them to act upon observations and instructions delivered by colleagues with relevant expertise. This would allow for more efficient and effective patient care until the paramedics could deliver the patient safely to the hospital.

What Dr. Zhang hopes to accomplish is threefold:

1) To establish an interdisciplinary area of socio-technical research that addresses real-world problems while also advancing the current state of computing technologies for enhancing human abilities to capture, integrate, and analyze critical data in a natural way.

2) To establish an excellent platform for an integrated education and outreach program. This aligns with several Seidenberg’s initiatives such as the upcoming Master’s in Human-Centered Design program (planned for Fall 2021). A diverse group of students, including underrepresented minorities and first-generation immigrants, will be involved in this research work so that they can gain first-hand experience in research, user-centered design, and software development.

3) To distribute research outcomes widely, through premium journals and conference publications to broaden the impact of this research.

“I feel extremely excited to work on this challenging yet understudied research problem that has significant scientific and societal impacts,” Dr. Zhang added.

We feel excited to support Dr. Zhang in his efforts, bringing the Internet of Things (IoT) further to the medical world. Congratulations to Dr. Zhang, and we are grateful to the National Science Foundation for its support in his compelling research.

How to Stay Productive During Quarantine

From the title of this article, you might be wondering: why would I want to be productive during a time like this? Although it feels like what’s going on will never end, that couldn’t be further from the truth. At some point, things will return back to normal–classes will resume, friends will reunite, and some of us will even return back to find exciting internships and jobs. It may feel like that’s ages from now, but it will happen, and when it does you might want to be prepared. Being productive is hard, however, when you find ways to be productive that are also fun, it becomes a tad bit easier. So, to spare you the trouble of figuring out what those ways might be, here is a list of some fun (yet beneficial) ways to stay productive during quarantine.

1. Virtual Hackathons

Robot Typing

 

 

One way to stay productive is to attend a virtual hackathon. Although many of us may be more familiar with attending in-person hackathons, it doesn’t hurt to attend a virtual one. Plus with everything going on, a virtual hackathon is definitely much safer to attend. Not only are you doing your part by social distancing, but you’re also doing yourself a favor by putting in valuable coding time. Don’t let your skills get rusty. Take part in something that will build the skills you already have. There are plenty of virtual hackathons to attend, so look into one that might fit you!

2. Coding Activities

Girl Pretending To Type

 

This next idea is more of a group effort. If you’re stuck at home with any younger, female-identifying family members who also have an interest in technology, you should try introducing them to Girls Who Code, which is a program that encourages young girls to pursue any potential interest they may have in technology. With the gender gap in this field gradually increasing, it is not only important for us to provide girls with the resources they need, but it is also important that we make them feel welcomed. If you have any time to spare, you can also sit down with your sister, cousin, etc., and walk them through some weekly Girls Who Code At Home Activities. That way you get to help them expand their knowledge while also spending time with them and learning a little bit more yourself.

3. Revamp Your Resume

Girl At Job Interview

Despite everything that’s going on, once life returns back to some level of normalcy, we all have internships and jobs to look forward to. That’s why one of the best uses of any free time you have now could be used towards tweaking your resume. Thankfully, there are ways to make that process easier. One of the first steps is to book an appointment for a resume workshop on Handshake. All you need to do is log in with your Pace credentials, click the Career Center tab, and go into Appointments. Another thing you can also do is work on your resume using the Resume and Cover Letter Guidebook before your appointment. Doing so will save you a lot of time and help you complete your resume much faster. Also, please note that in order to apply for internships or jobs through Handshake with Pace, your resume has to be completed and approved by Career Services.

4. Look Into Potential Internships

Character Saying I Got The Job

After your resume is completed and approved, you can start looking into internships on Handshake. Using the website or the app, you can search for internships based on your major and internships based on location. Also, Handshake will show you the employer’s hiring preferences and whether or not your major, year level, or experience matches what they’re looking for.

5. Work On A Project That Interests You

Woman Lowering Her Glasses

Whether it be an app, a website, or a computer, work on a project that interests you. It can be something that you’re excited to do but also sharpens your technical skills. Being productive and staying motivated are less strenuous when you’re doing something you absolutely enjoy. With all this free time available, you can finally get started on that project you’ve been thinking about. If you don’t have a project idea, think of something you’re passionate about. For instance, if you’re unhappy about something that’s currently going on, maybe you could think of an idea that has the potential to help others. It could be a big and elaborate idea, or it can be small, simple, and to the point. Whatever your idea may be, go for it!

6. Attend A Club Meeting (via Zoom)

Fictional Business Meeting

If you’re a member of any Seidenberg clubs or genuinely interested in becoming a member, you can officially attend a club meeting using Zoom. Also, Pace Women In Tech, PCS, Seidenberg Tech Collective, and the Pace Cybersecurity Club are all really active – they are sharing events on social media, Discord, and email!

7. Relax

Woman At A Spa

Yes, being productive is important, however, productivity is nothing without peace of mind. If you’re too tired or stressed to be productive, then chances are your work will reflect that. Have a spa day, do some face masks, watch a movie, FaceTime friends, etc. Do what you have to do in order to recenter your mind, body, and soul.

During this unprecedented time, the Seidenberg School of CSIS would like to thank those working on the frontlines to protect the wellbeing of others and we’d also like to send our condolences to families who have lost any loved ones to this outbreak. It is important that during this time we look out and care for one another. For any students struggling to cope with what’s currently going on, here is a link to some tips and resources that you may find helpful.

 

 

Pace University professor Richard Kline 3D prints face shield frames for New York medical workers to protect against COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis has brought with it numerous challenges, but there have also been many moments in which the human drive to help others during times of hardship has blossomed.

One such instance was the work of Richard Kline, a professor of computer science at Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. As a techie, Dr. Kline wanted to see whether he could contribute to the crisis response in any way. After reading an article about makers – people who design, prototype, and build objects, often in makerspaces – banding together to create much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical workers, Dr. Kline saw an opportunity to help.

“I contacted the volunteer group at NYCMakesPPE.com and got into their Discord chat group,” explained Dr. Kline. “I was asked right away to print a prototype for a new face shield frame design they are working on.”

Dr. Kline demoing the 3d printed frame, wearing it on his head.
Dr. Kline demoing the 3d printed frame.

A small team of volunteers were already working to improve upon a public-domain face shield design from Swedish company 3DVerkstan to increase the amount of space in front of the wearer’s head and to allow the clear plastic shields to be attached more easily.

After sharing photos of the prototype and offering feedback, Dr. Kline continued to work with fellow volunteers.

Dr. Kline demoing the 3d printed frame with shield, wearing it on his head with the shield covering his face.
Dr. Kline demoing the full face shield.

“Since that first print, I’ve helped with several further iterations among discussions with half a dozen other people, many with expertise in design and manufacturing. I’ve also printed 60 copies of their ‘production’ frame design to contribute to the group’s supply.”

With the 60 frames packed up, Dr. Kline mailed them to the NYCMakesPPE  organizers. Once they arrive, other volunteers will attach clear plastic shields (which they are also making), sanitize them, and prepare them for distribution within NYC.

A picture of a 3d printer and printing materials.
The 3d printer and materials for printing frames.

“It’s gratifying to have found something concrete I can do to help out in a small way during these troubling times,” said Dr. Kline.

We are filled with #SeidenbergPride at Dr. Kline’s contributions of much-needed equipment for New York medical workers. As Pace University has campuses in both New York City and Westchester, New York is our home – so we are always looking for an opportunity where the Pace and Seidenberg community can make an impact.

A Survival Guide to Learning Remotely

If you’re a student struggling through this shift from going to class or work each day to learning remotely from home, you’re not alone. We’re all going through this together as a community, so this guide is for all of us. Whether you need help making a schedule, navigating Blackboard, or keeping in touch with your professors, this guide has helpful information for all of the facets of remote learning. Read through our seven tips from Leanne Keeley, Web Developer for Pace University and Seidenberg Community Member, for an easier and more organized virtual semester!

1. Focus on communication…

Check Blackboard and your student email every day for announcements from your professors. Email or call your professor for any reason—whether you have questions about the course overall, about an assignment, and if you’re struggling with anything. Make sure you know when your professor’s office hours are so you can contact them when needed.

2. Make a schedule…

Use an online or paper calendar to keep track of class time, assignments, and due dates. It can be hard to stay on top of classes when moving to a new environment, so making an organizational system for yourself can be key.

3. Create an organized space for yourself…

Set aside a space for doing classwork (besides your bed, of course). Use a desk or table and create a space for yourself. Let your family and anyone else in your space know that you are in class or working so they do not disturb you.

4. Utilize your computer…

Set up a folder for each class on your desktop so you can organize class lectures, assignments, and other varied course work. Make sure all of your folders and documents have good file names so you can easily find them. Ensuring that your computer is backed up in case of an emergency is also good practice!

5. Check-in with yourself…

Take care of yourself. Use Pace and Seidenberg resources if you need help. Check-in with faculty or staff if you are worried about your classes or confused about how to be a remote student. You do your best work when you are happy and healthy.

6. Know your academic resources…

There are many academic resources for students working remotely. You can get an appointment with a tutor for most general classes, get a specific tutor for your Seidenberg classes, and even check out Pace OneDrive. You have access to so many resources that you can find on the Pace University or Seidenberg websites.

7. Utilize your health care resources…

Even when learning remotely, your health care resources are available. If you are worried about your health, university Health Care is just a click away. If you feel anxious or need someone to talk to the Counseling Center is always available to help.