An Interview with New Seidenberg Advisory Board Member and Pace Alumnus Matthew Knell, VP of Social Media and Platform Partnerships at About.com

Matt Knell headshotMatthew Knell is one of our favorite alumni for various reasons. A hardworking student who went on to an exciting career in social media and digital marketing, Matt is a thought leader in the industry, having spoken at conferences including SXSW Interactive, Social Media Week and SocialFresh, and having been featured by leading publications including Fast Company, CNBC, PR Week, TechCrunch, AllThingsD, and Advertising Age.  He also contributes regularly to publications and maintains a thriving site discussing digital media trends on Medium.

Even while leaping from success to success, Matt has never forgotten his experience at the Seidenberg School. He is always happy to attend events and lend his support – which is why we asked him to bring his expertise to the Seidenberg Advisory board (spoiler alert: he accepted).

We recently had a chance to sit down with Matt, shortly after his appointment to the board – giving us a unique chance to learn about Matt’s career, inspirations, and very particular selections for making a PB&J. Enjoy!

What motivates you to support the Seidenberg School in so many ways?

I was the first in my family to go to college, and Pace has a soft spot in my heart because of that. Scholarships and great instructors gave me a great way to get out of what could have been a very ordinary and average life. Not a bad life, but ordinary. When you have the opportunity to learn from great staff, people who really care, the community, you want to give back to that and help other people so they can have the same chances you did.

How would someone get to where you are now?

The way I’ve built my career is about being open to different things and trying things that are interesting. I was an Information Systems major, which gave me a fundamental understanding of how systems work. Learning how things are put together helps because you learn in time that everything in life has a system. Understanding the core frameworks of systems helps you figure them out. If you can understand how a system works, you can master it.

I’ve learned to be open to new ideas and, as much as possible, to be flexible in work environments. I  try to be the nicest person in the room. Relationships help you get far in life, and having a core group of people who you help and who help you is never a bad thing. I try to make the world a better place and to do the right thing by people. I don’t always get it right –  I don’t think anyone does. But, don’t let that make you afraid to make mistakes, because you’re going to. If your heart’s in the right place and your motives are pure and genuine – then you’re probably going to be alright.

For fun I took a personality test, and found out my personality type is “virtuoso”.  I think it describes me well.

Who has inspired you in life and why?

All people I know have inspired me a little bit at a time. This industry (digital media) allows people to be creative and it’s inspiring to see people problem solve when presented with new things that have never been seen before.  Each job I’ve had, I’ve been lucky enough to have a mentor to help me through things.  In terms of outside of work, I’d have to rank  Jim Henson as an absolute genius. What he built with the Muppets was genuinely amazing. I’ve always thought Kermit the Frog was very pragmatic and you see a lot of Jim in him.

Would you rather be liked or respected?

Probably respected. Treating people fair and equitably means you’re always going to do things that people don’t like. You can be kind and thoughtful in horrible moments of life, and people remember that, even if you’re doing a difficult thing.

Do you think you’d be in your position if you were a jerk?

No, definitely not. The CEO talked to a lot of people who know me and this is where being the nicest guy in the room really matters. I think good hires are a strong blend of character and talent. No one likes working with a jerk.

What do you think about when you’re driving alone in your car?

Typically what I’m gonna do next, make next, how can I make my job better – it’s forward thinking.  But you’re just as often likely to find i’m thinking about the next Mets game and where I can get a great sandwich.   

How do you make a PB&J?

Generic Wonder Bread (though I do love Trader Joe’s Texas Toast when I can get it), creamy not crunchy PB. It has to be grape or strawberry jelly, and if it’s grape, it has to be concord. Cut the crusts.

What would you do if you won $10 million in the lottery?

Besides buying a house and paying all the debts, give to animal relief organizations. They gave us all our pets; we’d like to give back. Invest in tech businesses – giving start-ups like Codapillar a chance to grow.

Matthew Knell sneakersBest gift you’ve received?

When I was a kid, I wanted a pair of Ken Griffey Jr sneakers so badly I got a job to save for them, but I didn’t end up getting them. A few years ago, they made a retro version and my wife got them for me. Getting them was a culmination of 12-year-old Matt’s delight and glee.

What were your experiences when the internet first started to roll out?

I was a junior in high school. I remember being one of the first to get on Staten Island’s internet provider. My first experience with the internet was Compuserve and I remember vividly playing text-based trivia games you’d play for $4 an hour. Email addresses were all numbers @compuserve.com

I remember AOL being the hot thing because it has pictures. Old AOL chatrooms, followed by IRC, which was the next wave of ‘how do you get on the internet?’ Then the web browser came along. When I was a junior in high school I taught myself HTML, then I started going to Pace. Having the experience of watching the internet grow was really cool.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you have to have?

Food, obviously! My wife, of course, somebody to talk to. Then probably my iPad because I can do so much, even if it doesn’t have connectivity.

You’re still on that desert island, but you now have all the items in this room: what would you build?

(In the room: a long conference table with 12 chairs. A TV, lots of snacks)

Does the island have internet access? A superentertainment system. Plus, I have Chips Ahoy!

You wouldn’t try to get of the island?

Not if I have everything I need!

Tell me about one of the items on your work desk

I have a bunch of things. A picture of my wife. A little plastic Wall-E toy, and a Wall-E and Eva, which reminds me of my wife and I. I have a LEGO business card holder – a reminder that you can always keep building on things, and if things aren’t working out you can always build them again. them. And, of course, a Pace t-shirt.

What’s the best advice you can give to technology students?

Talk to people – especially people who aren’t technology students. Get out and learn from people who are not technologists.  The number one personality type I hire is a technologist who can actually communicate. It’s wonderful to be smart and be able to build the most awesome things, but if you can’t communicate it to others, it’s just not going to happen. Go to conferences. Go to hackathons. Meet people – your 20s are for building a life.

This is New York: invent a pizza topping

Chopped up Nathan’s Fries. They get just gooshy enough that if you cook them they get soft, and they’d go great with the cheese.


Thank you, Matthew, for a wonderful conversation and we are looking forward to having you as a member of the Seidenberg School Advisory Board!

Read Matt’s Medium post about his Pace University experience.

Seidenberg professors organize IEEE CSCloud/SSC 2016 in Beijing, China

Dr. Meikang Qiu of the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems recently organized two conferences that were held in Beijing, China.

Prof. Qiu deliveries “Certificate of Appreciation” to Ohio State University Prof. Xiaodong Zhang
Prof. Qiu deliveries “Certificate of Appreciation” to Ohio State University Prof. Xiaodong Zhang

The 3rd annual IEEE International Conference on Cybersecurity and Cloud Computing and the 2nd annual IEEE International Conference of Scalable and Smart Cloud (SSC 2016) took place on June 25-27 at at Beihang University in China.

This academic event is a great gathering for scholars and professionals in the fields of cybersecurity, cloud computing, and smart computing. More than 60 delegates attended from more than 10 countries.

Professor Qiu served as the General Chair for both conferences, and also gave a talk entitled Proactive User-Centric Attribute-Based Semantic Access Control for a Mobile Cloud.

Prof. Qiu deliveries “Certificate of Appreciation” to Princeton University Prof. Sun-Yuan Kung
Prof. Qiu deliveries “Certificate of Appreciation” to Princeton University Prof. Sun-Yuan Kung

Dr. Lixin Tao, the Chair of the Computer Science Department (PLV) also attended the conference. Seidenberg faculty and PhD and DPS students at Seidenberg presented their recent research work, including 14 conference papers.

World famous professors Sun-Yuan Kung (Princeton University, IEEE Fellow) and Xiaodong Zhang (Ohio State University, IEEE/ACM Fellow) also exciting keynotes on Cloud Computing and Big Data.

Pace University was a major sponsor of the conference – and we are already looking forward to next year!

 

 

Pokemon Go brings all our dreams to [augmented] reality

Screenshot_2016-07-07-08-46-07_resizedPokemon Go has officially released in North America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan and we’re already walking into walls hunting for those elusive pokemans!

The new app, available on both iPhone and Android, involves getting players to travel around the real world searching for and capturing wild pokemon, which appear on your phone screen while you view the scenery through its camera. This gives the effect of the pokemon actually appearing in the real world – which is something many fans (of all ages!) have dreamed about for the last 20 years since the franchise’s inception.

Pokemon Go is fascinating not only because of its wish-granting capabilities, but because of the technology behind it. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are systems that capture, store, check and display data related to the surface of the Earth. We’ve seen this on GPS software, where the program displays a map of your location, often with 3d attibutes. Ingress, a mobile game very similar to Pokemon Go, uses the same technology.

Everybody’s favorite pokemon, Zubat, was spotted near Pace this morning

GIS can even display the terrain of the location, so when you’re hunting Pokemon in a park the app will actually show that you’re in a grass area – which means grass and bug type pokemon, like Caterpie, Venonat, and Bellsprout will pop up on your map. Go near water and you might expect to see Seadra, Magikarp, and Starmie. This neatly mimics the experience of playing the game as pokemon can be found in their preferred habitats, bringing the augmented reality authenticity to an impressive level.

Students interested in learning more about GIS can take the elective course CIT 351 – Geographic Information Systems taught by Professor Dan Farkas. The class is a hands-on introduction to GIS that uses industry-leading software to enable students to build their own GIS models and applications.

Screenshot_2016-07-07-08-47-20_resizedScreenshot_2016-07-07-08-48-45Show us your pokemon! Let us know if you’ve spotted any in the Pace area (we’ll share!) and, most importantly, if you’re interested in a Seidenberg Pokemon League!

I caught that Krabby, by the way → → → → → →

Jonathan Hill appointed Dean of Seidenberg School


10626830_10100548699389017_3518251505382213470_nWe are delighted to announce that Dr. Jonathan Hill has been appointed as the Dean of the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems!

Dr. Hill has been a part of the Pace community since 2003, and has worked relentlessly to elevate the school’s reputation within the NYC community and far beyond. He is known among faculty, staff, and students for his dedication to the school and his determination to see each and every member of the community succeed.

The formal announcement of Dr. Hill’s new appointment was made by Pace University President, Stephen Friedman, on Monday June 20.

jhill5

Jonathan Hill’s dedication, leadership, vision, record of achievement, and management skills make him the right person to lead the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems to new heights of excellence and reputation.

Stephen Friedman, Pace University President

Countless jobs and internships for our students have been won through Dr. Hill’s tireless cultivation of relationships with government and corporate programs, which have also resulted in many research opportunities for our faculty and students.

Ijhill3n the academic year 2015-16, Dr. Hill was appointed Interim Dean and worked to grow the school’s student enrollment – and grow it did, exponentially.

We are excited to see what the coming years bring with DEAN HILL at the helm – please join us in extending heartfelt congratulations on a very deserving appointment!

“Smart and connected communities” come together at STEM Collaboratory oyster event

The STEM Collaboratory NYC held a fantastic event on June 8th involving dinner, panel discussions, and networking. The event, held at Pace University’s Schimmel Theater, focused on law and technology’s place in restoration, in particular the NY harbor restoration. The Seidenberg School is close to the Billion Oyster Project, which aims to restore the NY harbor back to its previous oyster-inhabited glory, and Billion Oyster Project co-founder, Murray Fisher, spoke on one of the panels.

After enjoying a buffet-style dinner of sandwiches, pastries, and – of course – oysters, attendees moved into the auditorium and were welcomed by Pace Provost, Uday Sukhatme, who made the opening remarks before passing the mic to Dr. Jonathan Hill, the Interim Dean of Seidenberg.

“This is a powerhouse of people who have innovative ideas about how to teach STEM in schools,” Dr. Hill said, before the first panel began.

20160608_171125_resizedThe Environmental Law and Policy panel included Murray Fisher, Steve Kass, Sean Dixon, and Andrea Leshak, and was moderated by John Cronin. The panel discussed environmental restoration, with Sean Dixon – who teaches Oceans and Coastal Law here at Pace – pointing out that “the biggest thing with oysters in NYC is how big an opportunity they are.” The restoration of the harbor to a point where oysters can once again populate the water means cleaner water for other things.

20160608_180509_resizedThe second panel invited top young entrepreneurs from the NY tech scene to present and discuss their projects. Among participants were Olga Bogomolova and Julie Gauthier, two Seidenberg students (as well as staff/professors!) who created coding app Codapillar together. Other panelists included the talented Delali Dzirasa and Carson Chodos, with the DOE’s Director of Technology and Engineering (Teaching and Learning Division), Nancy Woods, moderating.

20160608_182049_resizedFinally, Ben Bostick, Ray Sombrotto and Bob Newton took to the stage to discuss “Restoration Science – A Scientific Perspective.” They discussed the restoration of the NY harbor in a very optimistic light, with Ray explaining that “the focus on keystone species like oysters helps with restoration.”

“If you’re going to talk about restoration, you may as well shoot high,” he said.

The evening concluded with a raffle, where lucky several attendees won gift cards.

Thanks go out to Lauren Birney, Jonathan Hill, Brian Evans, Pace University and the NSF for making such a wonderful evening possible!

Students build mobile apps to raise awareness of the Zika virus

The Zika virus has been making headlines recently as outbreaks have occurred in various countries around the globe, with the World Health Organization ultimately declaring the virus a global public health emergency.

As something that has been on a lot of people’s minds, the Zika virus became the subject of several mobile apps developed by students at the Seidenberg School. Several of the students are visiting students from Brazil, who decided to build the apps to raise awareness given the virus’ presence in their home country.

Zik Def 2Zika Defender was built by Nida Butt, Marcus Ferreira, Russell Gee and Pedro Borges Pio in CS 389 Software Engineering, which is taught by Dr. Christelle Scharff. The app is a game in which players eliminate mosquitoes before they can reach their targets. While playing, users learn more about the virus: “As more people use our app, the more attention will be given to the dire situation in Brazil, where many people are suffering from this illness,” the team’s website states.

ZikAlert1Another team created ZikAlert, an informational app that offers insight into symptoms, prevention and transmission of the disease. The team is comprised of Frank Fico, Luiz Fernando da Silva Sieslak and Hongyuan ‘Peter’ Li.

From the team page: “Brazil attracts an increasing amount of tourist traffic throughout the year; given the ongoing outbreak of the Zika virus, it is paramount to raise people’s awareness of the ailment (and preventative methods therein) to prevent it from becoming a bigger issue than it needs to be.”

ZikAlert2The apps have been submitted to OpenIDEO, an open innovation platform that aims to solve global challenges for social good. The apps were featured on the site and in its newsletter.

Fantastic job to the hardworking students involved!