Students hop down to Texas for Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

img_20161020_134643October was a busy month at the Seidenberg School. Not only was it Cybersecurity Month, meaning we had plenty of events relating to all things privacy and security, but we were still recovering from the launch of the fantastic NYC Design Factory.

What better time to get away from it all by attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference in Houston, Texas?

The conference is a massive, annual event that usually takes place in a different location each year. Since its inception in 1994, the conference has grown from just a few hundred delegates to this year’s incredible collection of attendees – around 16,000! And some of those awesome women in attendance were Seidenberg students and staff.

d688e116-b58d-4dad-bcaf-89b51a87be8cAmongst the students were undergraduates Karishma Saini (BS Computer Science), Melanie Green (BS Information Technology), Gauri Kirve (BS Information Systems), and Ketaki Mulajkar (BS Computer Science), as well as graduate students Raisa Mukadam (MS Information Systems), Alexa Piccoli (MS Computer Science) and Beverly Gladden (MS Information Systems). They were joined by Seidenberg staffers Kim Brazaitis, Svetlana Kotlyarenko, and me!

Trying out Microsoft Hololens
Trying out Microsoft Hololens

To say the conference was absolutely massive is an understatement. The opening keynote took place in the enormous Toyota Center stadium where amazing speakers got the crowd hyped up for the next few days of networking, professional development workshops and sessions, and a serious amount of partying. Keynote topics included privacy and cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and cognitive computing, and were discussed by Latanya Sweeney, Ginni Rometty, Alyssia Jovellanos, and Anna Patterson.

Seidenberg School booth
Seidenberg School booth

After the keynote, the conference was in full swing. Day one consisted largely of everybody checking out the expo, where hundreds of organizations (including the Seidenberg School!) had set up booths to share information, network with others, and give out free swag.

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Melanie Greene with one of the awesome Google displays

Computer Science student Melanie Greene said: “It was uplifting to see the number of prestigious companies at the career expo – I really saw their commitment to embracing diversity in the industry, and it was touching. I got the chance to meet many enthusiastic employees from so many companies such as Google, Microsoft, Walt Disney, Facebook and to attend Google’s party that was out of this world. Have you ever created your own emoji and then seen it in the foam of your coffee? I have now. I am blown away by the advancements made in technology and I hope to be a part of them in the future.”

In the evenings, a wealth of social events took place with free food, fantastic networking opportunities, and inspirational speakers – including the aforementioned Google party that was, indeed, out of this world.

Google selfidriving car
Google had a self-driving car on display

Days two and three were packed with professional development and educational workshops and panels that our students were sure to make the most of during networking breaks. Some of our students were so impressive that they were offered interviews for jobs on the spot! We are extremely proud of our students’ talents and their abilities to share their expertise with people they have just met.

resized_20161019_181829The conference came to a close too soon and we were sad to leave the warm, humid temperatures of Houston to return to the tepid airs of New York… but it was an incredible experience.

Graduate student Alexa Piccoli said: “Attending Grace Hopper this year well exceeded my expectations . . . There are so many awesome things happening in the world of technology and it reassured me that being a women in the field is something I should be proud of and thankful for.

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Alexa Piccoli designs her personal emoji to be replicated in a latte

“From the keynote speakers to the breakout sessions, to the awesome Google party, I truly learned a lot and had fun. I learned how women have deeply influenced and paved the path in technology, how to get involved in capture the flag competitions, the advancements of blockchain, and how  you can do anything you set your mind to in this field. I would encourage students to go to this event next year and get involved in all that being a women in technology has to offer!”

Interested in attending the conference next year? Let us know!

Student blog – Hacktivism: Justice or Anarchy?

 

This opinion piece was written by student Alexander Agbulos.

Hacktivism is the concept of “hacking” into a computer system in order to convey a social justice message or commence a movement. Hacktivist groups, such as Anonymous or Lulzsec are infamous for these cyberattacks – they have even been deemed “the new guardians of our civil liberties” (as well as “the internet hate machine”) – because of their exposure of government secrets and lies.  But should these vigilantes be praised or vilified? Many approve of their methods, donning Guy Fawkes masks and joining the cult, while others deem it narcissistic.

For instance, a heated debate continues today over the actions of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. By leaking confidential USA government surveillance programs, Snowden risked his life, but is considered a traitor since he broke the law in doing so. However, “the law” can be justified with 2 sides of the same coin i.e. slavery. Slavery was an unjust moment in history but was legal for a long time until it was abolished. However, it should never have existed in the first place since the Declaration of Independence explicitly claimed that “all men are created equal”. In other words, just because it is the law, does not mean it is legal – the safest hands are still our own.

Maybe hacktivists such as Snowden or Anonymous are over emotional, but their actions impact the community in a diverse way. Sometimes, action requires to step outside of the law in order to have it conveyed for the greater good. Since not everyone is able to project their ideals through a government connection, civil action becomes necessary. Although it seems like anarchy, hacktivists can be seen as the hero over an anarchist because they open the door for legal action. Perhaps they really are “the new guardians of our civil liberties.”

Thanks for contributing to the Seidenberg School blog, Alexander!

NYC Design Factory opens at Pace University

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It’s finally here! The NYC Design Factory is the twelfth in the ever-growing network of Design Factories around the globe. On Friday, September 30, 2016, we launched our brand new factory with a huge number of guests who came to celebrate with us.

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Pace Provost Uday Sukhatme attended the Design Factory launch

Among those in attendance were Pace University Provost, Dr. Uday Sukhatme, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, and very special guest Kalevi “Eetu” Ekman, the founder of the first Design Factory at Aalto University in Finland.

Jonathan Hill welcome
Dean Jonathan Hill gave his welcome remarks at the start of the event

Despite the event’s 8am kickoff, we had an amazing turnout. After spending some time enjoying breakfast pastries and getting to know one another, the program started with introductory remarks from Seidenberg School Dean, Dr. Jonathan Hill.

“I did not know it was possible to empower students like this,” Dr. Hill commented while describing his passion for Design Factory.

Dr. Hill then introduced Provost Sukhatme, who said a few words of congratulations. “I think this is the beginning of good things to come,” said Provost Sukhatme. “Pace students have innovation in their interdisciplinary work. The Design Factory concept falls right into the Pace Path.”

Olga Bogomolova and Eetu Ekman
Program Manager and “Fixer” Olga Bogomolova with Design Factory creator Eetu Ekman

Design Factory creator Eetu Ekman then took the stage and gave a keynote on the incredible ideas behind Design Factory and some of the amazing results that this unique way of product development has yielded. He welcomed the NYC Design Factory to the Design Factory Global Network family.

Deborah Glick
Assemblywoman Deborah Glick and Vanessa Herman from Pace Government Relations

Dean Hill then welcomed Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, who acknowledged that “Pace is a great university in the heart of a world class city. [Design Factory] is bringing people together from across the globe. It is changing the way people conceptualize designing products.”

The final big welcome was given by our good friend Viltsu Lyytikäinen from Aalto, and then it was party time! In true Design Factory fashion, the ribbon-cutting was done not with a ribbon nor a pair of scissors, but with a teamwork challenge that pit our guests against one another! Teams were challenged to fill large empty beanbag sacks (stitched together by our amazing student graphic artist Belle Krupcheck) with thousands of tiny ‘beans’ in order to create fully functional
beanbag chairs. Provost Sukhatme got in on the action, as did Dean Hill, Eetu Ekman, and Assemblywoman Glick. It was a great introduction how Design Factory eschews the norm mere moments after the launch.

Jonathan Hill and Stacey Sarris
Dean Jonathan Hill and UX expert Stacey Sarris celebrate the launch

Guests were then welcome to celebrate with party poppers and small glasses of a pink sparkling substance. Some made the most of the beanbag filling that had managed to get absolutely everywhere during the challenge and made for a snowy scene.

Following the launch was a two hour workshop called Identifying the Next Big Thing.

Design Factory workshop Identifying the Next Big Thing
Design Factory workshop Identifying the Next Big Thing

The workshop aimed to teach participants different methods of identifying opportunities. They can be opportunities for new R&D (research and development) projects, new research, theses, personal projects and much more. Participants learned new brainstorming methods, how to identify opportunities for projects, how to improve their communication skills, how to improve working under a time constraint, and – of course – they got to collaborate with our awesome Finnish guests from Aalto Design Factory!

Participants were divided into teams and had to quickly come up with a new product idea using the Design Thinking method. After the workshop, each team had to do a 30 second pitch (some of which was broadcast over Facebook live!)

Provost Sukhatme
NYC Design Factory: Provost approved

As always, plenty of pizza arrived in time for lunch and helped finish off a fantastic start to one of our biggest and best projects: New York Design Factory.

Thank you to all who came to the Seidenberg School here at Pace University today. We especially want to thank our partners in the Design Factory Global Network who helped us get to where we are today, as well as members of the Pace community and beyond who provided unending support.

A special thanks to our special guests who video linked in all the way from Aalto Design Factory in Finland – it was great having you here!

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Our Finnish friends joined via video from Aalto Design Factory in Finland

Among other Design Factory Global Network guests were faculty and students from Nexus Design Factory, Philadelphia University, and our dear friends from Porto Design Factory, Porto Polytechnic Institute, Rector Rosario Gambôa and fire starter Rui Coutinho. We were so touched that so many of you traveled around the world to celebrate with us in person.

We hope you found the day enlightening and enjoyable, and we can’t wait to see you all again at the NYC Design Factory!

Seidenberg alumna Lynne Marino (MS-IS ’92) gives an incredible gift: life

Lynne Marino MS-IS 93)
Lynne Marino (MS in IS ’92)

Lynne Boyles Marino graduated from the Seidenberg School in the class of ’92 with her Master’s in Information Systems. Not only has Lynne’s career since then been amazing, but she recently gave a friend an incredible gift: a kidney.

Lynne’s career has spanned working in the telecommunications and finance services industries, including working at IBM and AT&T, but it’s clear what the most rewarding thing she’s ever done is – something that, when she speaks about it, there is resounding passion in her voice.

“What I hope to do,” says Lynne, “is to inspire somebody else to be a donor.”

Just last year, Lynne underwent surgery to remove her kidney so it could be transplanted into another person. The other person was a friend and previous employee that Lynne hadn’t seen in 20 years.

But Lynne wasn’t worried about donating something so significant to someone she hadn’t seen for a long time: “She had worked for me 20 years ago and was a fantastic employee. I knew from then that she was very diligent and always followed the rules; Whatever the doctors told her to do, she would do it. We recently had a reunion and she flew from Kentucky to White Plains visit me – she has a timer on her phone that tells her when to take her anti-rejection pills.  So it looks like nothing has changed.”

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Lynne with recipient Tamara in a pre-op meeting

When Lynne heard that her friend was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, an inherited disorder that runs through her family, she knew she wanted to help. The recipient and her insurance provider covered all of the costs, so all Lynne had to do was undergo several tests, keep herself in good health, and prepare mentally for the procedure. Was she afraid? Surprisingly, no. “I felt like it was really going to be fine. Nothing was going to happen. They take really good care of the donor and put you on a wellness floor afterwards, so recovery is as painless as possible.”

Recovery is also short – just six weeks, and Lynne was back in the office after two! “I love my job!” she laughs. Like a lot of our alumni, Lynne works in finance, and even though she wasn’t able to lift anything over 10lbs during recovery, she was eager to return to work.

The recipient of Lynne’s kidney now has a clean bill of health, which is exactly what’s so wonderful about organ donation. When Lynne speaks about it, she is powerful, persuasive, and passionate. “It’s a big benefit for me to be able to say ‘Hey, this is the best gift I’ve ever given!’”

Donating a kidney is an incredible gift. At any given time, around 120,000 people are on the donor list waiting for a kidney and 15 people die every day while waiting.

Lynne with her surgeon after being cleared to go home
Lynne with her surgeon after being cleared to go home

There are many policies in place that exist to help out donors. For example, if you donate your kidney and one day in the future need a new kidney yourself, you go straight to the top of the list. Also, say a child had a disease that meant he would one day need a kidney, and his grandmother wanted to donate but it wasn’t yet needed (and when it was, she may not be around anymore), she could donate to a stranger and, when the time came for the child to need a transplant, he would be prioritized. There are some really incredible arrangements for just about any situation you can think of  – all to encourage people to donate now, knowing that they or their loved ones will be taken care of in the future.

Did Lynne suffer any lifestyle changes brought about from her donation? Given that she had to think about her response, the answer is “not really”. She has to stay hydrated (which is good for you), eat well (again, good for you), be conscious of taking any medication that could adversely affect her, and maaaybe hold off from that last glass of wine. Lynne says, “the average kidney donor lives longer than the average person, because they are quite healthy.”

This article may not convince you to hop onto the surgical table right now, but keep the possibility of donating a kidney to save someone’s life in your mind as you go through your everyday life. There are plenty of people who have donated a kidney to someone they don’t know alongside all of those who donate to loved ones.

In the meantime, there is so much you can do to help people suffering kidney disease and a whole host of other ailments.

  1. Donate blood. According to the Red Cross, around 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the USA. Every 2 seconds, someone in the US needs blood.
  2. Become an organ donor. You can get it on your driver’s license – some states automatically set you as a donor but many don’t, so check and opt-in for donation. That means if something happens to you, your body can be used to save lives. You can also download a dedicated donor card.
  3. Discuss your wishes with your family members. Even if you’re listed as an organ donor, family might step in and say no. It’s important to have a discussion where you let them know that it is your wish to help others if something happens to you.

Summer Internship Series: Melanie Greene

Summer is almost over, meaning it’s time to catch up with our students on where they interned over the break. First up is Melanie Greene (BS in Information Technology with a minor in marketing), who interned at broadcaster SiriusXM and was kind enough to share her experience with us.

Take it away, Melanie!


IMG_3646Over the summer I had the privilege of interning at SiriusXM within the Business Intelligence department of the company. I have been working with the IT Desk Support gaining exposure to the corporate world and the IT infrastructure of SiriusXM. I have a mentor who is the Site Supervisor. He has been training and teaching me along this journey. It is hard to fathom that it has been over two months since I started – time flies when you’re having fun!

Since I started back in June, I have gained a vast amount of knowledge and hands-on experience dealing with equipment and developing relationships. Establishing a good professional working relationship is essential to getting the job done, and hopefully opening the doors to professional development in the future.

IMG_4318Working in the field is completely different from reading a textbook – I value a hands-on approach to learning because there is nothing like diving into the field and participating in real world problems. Throughout my internship I have replaced and allocated equipment to my co-workers, moved employees from one location to another, replaced hardware in desktops, managed the inventory of hardware in Active Directory, reviewed the updates of machines in System Center Configuration Manager, and fulfilled tickets generated by employees on ServiceNow. Additionally I have updated the inventory of hardware in our Access database and created excel spreadsheets to keep track of newly acquired hardware. I also imaged machines with the SiriusXM build. My tasks changed every day depending on what my mentor asked me to do.

IMG_4344A lesson my mentor taught me when troubleshooting is to consider many reasons why something is not working. I could also see how this lesson applies to life. I feel that I have gained many new skills and strengthened many old ones. To work in this field or any industry, I have learned that it is essential to have stellar communication skills when asking the right questions, to manage customer relationships, and to troubleshoot relentlessly. These skills can be applied to a variety of jobs because they are invaluable.

I cannot fathom how fast the summer has gone. At SiriusXM I have had the opportunity to attend Snack and Learn Sessions where myself and the other interns would enjoy snacks and listen to an employee of the company discuss their journey on how they got where they are today. Towards the end of the internship there was an Intern Celebration Luncheon where we talked about our experiences and munched on delicious pizza and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream from our Intern Advisor which was extremely generous. I had a wonderful time attending the Snack and Learn Sessions, the Resume Workshop, and the Intern Celebration Luncheon.

IMG_4275One of my favorite parts of this internship has been meeting so many interesting employees from different walks of life and career backgrounds. I am fascinated speaking with my colleagues because I learn and grow as a technologist, a student, and a future woman in the workforce. It is intriguing to hear about everyone’s positions and the work that they do. I have met Java Developers, Web Designers, Application Developers, Marketing Managers, among many others – everyone’s job contributes to the success of the company. Everyone has been so kind to me and I cannot thank them enough for making me feel so comfortable and providing an environment for me to thrive and learn. It has been truly an unforgettable experience. I will most definitely be remaining in contact with everyone that I met and worked with. I hope the door remains open so that I could embark on more opportunities with SiriusXM.

I strongly thank all the professors I have had at Pace for challenging me and giving me the necessary foundation for thriving in the workforce and exposing me to endless opportunities.

Students Dhruv Gandhi and Tejas Chavan to enter UX World Championship

We couldn’t be more proud of two of our amazing students, Dhruvil Gandhi and Tejas Chavan, who are finalists in the UX World Championship taking place in October!

Dhruv Poster
Dhruv’s winning poster

The competition challenged students to develop interactive concepts for future shopping experiences in order to improve the way we shop. Each entrant had to design a poster depicting their ideas, a process which took a lot of hard work and careful consideration.

“It was totally unexpected,” says Dhruv, after receiving the news. “I believe it’s people you have around you that affects your work. Friends, mentors and critiques – I am grateful to everyone.” Dhruv particularly wanted to thank Virali Jhaveri, a recent Seidenberg grad, for her help with the project.

Dhruv, Stacey Sarris, and Tejas

Dhruv and Tejas worked over summer to put together their competition submissions alongside a team of fellow students and alumni, under the guidance of Seidenberg professor Stacey Sarris. Professor Sarris, who coached the students throughout the process, said: “Two students reaching the finals shows that applying hard work and User Experience principles works! I couldn’t be more proud of both Dhruv and Tejas and I can’t wait to how they do in Austria.”

Professor Sarris teaches IS 660S – Interface Design for Web Applications. The class introduces students to the theories of Human-Computer Interaction and Usability and presents methodologies for analyzing and designing user-centered interactive interfaces.

Tejas' poster
Tejas’ poster

Tejas had some inspirational words to share: “If you are really dedicated to something, and if you have a great mentor like Prof. Stacey, then there is the possibility that you will be lost on your way to AWESOMENESS!”

Speaking of awesomeness, here’s what being a finalist means for our two superstars:

  • A ticket to the World Usability Congress 2016
  • A flight to Graz / Austria
  • Accommodation for one week
  • An Experience Tour in Styria

At the UX finals, the students will receive two additional tasks and will have six hours to solve them. The jury, which will be composed of experts from sponsoring partners and WUC speakers, will choose the winner of the UX World Championship.

The winner will be awarded at the World Usability Congress, so stay tuned!

We’re so proud of our students! We’re also pretty proud of the fact that Pace University is the only university to have not one but two students enter the final – some might suggest that says something about our students (that they’re the best).