Pace Mobile Lab brings mobile technologies to developing countries with AppDock

 

by Ariana Sajnani

Recently, I had the privilege to interview computer science students from Pace University who have been working relentlessly, in collaboration with architecture students from NYIT, on a project called AppDock. Their main focus is to provide opportunities to developing countries with a way to understand and use mobile apps that can help improve their life quality and standard.

“We focused our research on Senegal where I have been doing my research for seven years now ” says Dr. Christelle Scharff, NYC Chair of the Computer Science Department and Director of Pace Mobile Lab. Dr. Scharff explains how “AppDock creates a trustworthy, physical environment where local developers and end users can connect on a community level.”  Exchange of information between developers and users will promote improvements to app quality and relevance. Dr. Scharff notes that AppDock “will also permit users to become educated on the notion of apps, in general”.

Sean_DanEven though mobile subscriptions in Africa are over 650 million, locally developed apps are not being used because either the people are not aware that they exist OR they don’t know how to or why they should use apps. App is not part of the everyday vocabulary in developing markets. In addition, there is a disconnect possibly on what the apps do and what the local needs are. An adjustment is needed to better understand app features that can benefit the general masses in their day-to-day lives.

This sounds interesting! How are you going to get the locals to use it?

AppDock has been designed as a space with mobile carts where locals can explore a variety of mobile apps right in their own neighborhoods. It contains various tablets that showcase local apps. The carts are biked through cities and villages to reach remote areas. The architects and developers attempt to create a convenient space where people can congregate, exchange ideas, and learn about these applications that can improve their lives in general.

IMG_3192The proposed space will fold out into a huge dock, similar to ones that we see in mobile stores such as Verizon and AT&T, and will have phones provided for people to try each of the new apps they see on the screens.

“We want to educate the people of Senegal on how to use a smart phone, download apps and teach them how to use them.”

– Andrew Greenberg, a member of the Pace Mobile Lab group.

But wait….There’s more!

Each of the screens will advertise the top eight apps of the month that are hot and trending. Also, while each person is learning about how each of the apps works, they can charge their own phones on a charging station and access the wifi that will be provided in the dock. This way, they can spend more time learning at the dock!

I know right?! SO COOL!DSC00257

 You said it was a collaborative process, right?

I did! Computer science students from Pace University (pictured above) teamed up with architecture students from NYIT to get this project up and running. They started this idea in the Fall of 2015 while enrolled in a course entitled “Mobile Solutions for Global Challenges” and have been working on it ever since.

The students from Pace University are focusing on the digital aspect of the project while the students from NYIT are working on the physical aspect (the structure). “It’s interesting to work with students from other disciplines because we are working with different mindsets and we can see different approaches to solve problems”, says Andrew.

Next Steps?

The goal is to secure funding, pilot this effort in Senegal and measure the impact of the program and its benefits. If successful the program will gain momentum and it will allow the teams to expand this to other developing countries. Stay tuned…

 

Seidenberg students represent at the Conference for Women Computer Science Students

The first annual New York City Conference for Women Computer Science Students took place at the Microsoft Headquarters in New York City on April 1, 2016.  The Seidenberg School, a strong supporter of Women in Technology (WIT@Pace) was represented at this historic event by computer science undergraduates Karishma Saini (BS/CS’18) and Rohana Sosa (BS/CS’19).

I enjoyed the event because it was a great learning experience for me. I learned more the importance of computer science and technology in today’s world. I also received numerous tips and advice for my future career. We were encouraged to combine out interests with computer science and technology. Overall, it was a comfortable atmosphere to be surrounded by other women who had the same dreams of pursuing a career in computer science/technology the same way I do.

Karishma Saini (BS/CS’18)

The all-day conference organized by the NY Technology Council was focused on building community and career support for undergraduate women studying computer science and related fields. The event, co-sponsored by Microsoft and Google, featured keynote presentations from leading computer science experts in industry and academia; panel discussions on topics pertaining to entrepreneurship, career development, and networking; and networking opportunities for students to connect with industry leaders.

Karishma Saini (left) and Rohana Sosa (right)
Karishma Saini (left) and Rohana Sosa (right)

The most enriching part of visiting Microsoft was listening to the inspiring experiences of the keynote speakers as well as of the other CS students. All sessions served as useful resources for expanding my knowledge and CS network. I loved becoming friends with six CS​ students and introducing myself to the CEO of the startup called Stowaway Cosmetics!

Rohana Sosa (BS/CS’19)

See you there next year!

 

Teens design mobile apps for senior citizens at 2nd annual Mobile App Development Bowl

Friday February 26 was a great day at Pace University as hundreds of high school and college students participated at the second annual Westchester SMART Mobile App Development Bowl.

This year’s kickoff event was bigger than ever, with around 260 contestants from 36 high schools and colleges coming together to design mobile applications for senior citizens.

The challenge was to design an app to help senior citizens deal with a problem they experience in their everyday lives, whether that problem stems from their relationship with technology itself or whether technology can simply be used to solve an unrelated issue.

The event is sponsored by Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino in conjunction with The Seidenberg School.

“The competition showcases the extraordinary talents of our region’s future generation in ways that help benefit our seniors,” said Robert Astorino. “It’s a double win – we’ve created a platform for students to test their technology skills, while our seniors benefit from applications produced by those skills. Last year was a great success, and we’re already building on it this year.”

JVP_0019After an incredible pep rally from The Marching Cobras of Westchester, the teams attended workshops and got to work developing their apps. The resulting apps will be presented to a panel of judges on April 15th – so if you missed the kickoff, come in April to check out what everybody did!

Seidenberg Dean Jonathan Hill said: “It’s great to celebrate like-minded individuals who bring a contagious enthusiasm for creativity and technology. Everyone at Seidenberg and Pace University alike is proud to support the work being done by these students to help those in need in our community.”

Winners will be announced on April 15th at the final presentation, which will be held at Pace University’s Pleasantville campus. Cash prizes, paid internships and publishing apps through app stores all on the table.

The #WestchesterSmart #AppBowl (tweet us!) was organized by Seidenberg faculty, staff, and students. Dr. Jean Coppola is our champion of gerontechnology research and was the Lead Faculty & Advisor. Deth Sao did Development & Partnership Relations and graduate student Adil Hasan was the project manager – well done, folks! See you on April 15th for the final event!

Learn design thinking with IBM

Hey, you! Interested in an event at none other than IBM this month? Want to learn a useful new skill? Then check out this workshop!

WHAT: IBM Design Thinking

Design thinking is a human centered approach to complex problem solving. Sounds complicated, but it’s actually a great way of making solving problems simpler. In this workshop, some of IBM’s best and brightest “design thinkers” will train you in this useful technique. You will learn approaches that have you experiencing a new way of thinking that will help you with classes, projects, theses, and much more.

You will receive a certificate for completing this workshop!

WHEN: Friday, March 11, 2016, 10:30am-3:00pm

WHERE: IBM, 294 NY-100, Somers, NY 10589

TRANSPORT: We will have a Pace shuttle departing from the Pace Pleasantville campus at 9:30am and returning at approximately 4:00pm. Students from the Pace NYC campus should plan to arrive @ PLV campus by 9:30am at the latest.

PROGRAM INFORMATION:

This 4 hour workshop will introduce students to a different way of thinking and working collaboratively in order to solve problems.  The workshop will be run by IBM design thinking experts.

Students will be exposed to the design thinking framework and guided to apply the framework to solve a problem – the problem description is included below, though students can also bring in their own problem. Students will have the opportunity to present their ideas/solutions to the their client, town of Germantown. In addition, the students will receive certificates for workshop competition from IEEE, the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology.

PROBLEM DESCRIPTION:

The town of Germantown, located in Columbia County NY, is nestled on the east bank of the Hudson River 100 miles north of New York City. Over 2,000 Germantown residents enjoy a quiet, family-centered lifestyle in the country with easy access to the river for boating, fishing and viewing spectacular sunsets behind the Catskill Mountains. Boaters and fishing fans have two access points to the Hudson River:  Cheviot Park off County Rd. 9G and Lasher Memorial Park in North Germantown.

There are several acres of undeveloped waterfront property either owned by the town or the State. The town is interested ideas for utilizing the waterfront land, which takes into consideration the potential high-speed rail that may be built along the Hudson River to link New York City and Albany.

REGISTRATION:

Please register by March 7, 2016 here: http://conta.cc/1pl0MZj

Seats are limited.

QUESTIONS:

Interested students can direct their questions to Andreea Cotoranu, acotoranu@pace.edu or 914-773-3193

Robot wars at the 7th FIRST® Tech Challenge Hudson Valley Championship Tournament!

Just under 300 accomplished young robot engineers descended on the Pleasantville campus on Sunday, February 21, to compete in the seventh annual FIRST® Tech Challenge Hudson Valley Championship Tournament!

The competitors were part of 28 high school robotics teams hailing from all over the tri-state area who had already met with success at regional qualifying tournaments. With them, robots they designed, built, and programmed came to battle it out for first place.

IMG_6850This year’s challenge was to design robots built to avoid or pick up “debris,” navigate to lighted “rescue beacons,” and climb a five-foot “mountain.” Winners would advance to the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship in the spring.

FIRST is an international, K-12 not-for-profit organization founded to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. Participants are also eligible to apply for exclusive college scholarship opportunities totaling $25 million.

Pace University has been a regional partner with FIRST since 2003, running competitions and team workshops that have served well over 6,000 middle- and high-school students.

So onto the winners!

MedalsThe game competition was won by an alliance of three teams:

  • i^2 robotics of Westport, CT
  • Quantum Mechanics of the Dalton School, New York, NY
  • Big Bertha of Putnam-Northern Westchester BOCES, Yorktown Heights, NY

Teams also earned awards in a variety of categories. The top judged award, the Inspire award, went to team NanoGurus of Morris Plains, NJ

Four teams will advance to the East Super-Regional Championship next month in Philadelphia, in hopes of moving further to the world championship in April in St Louis, Missouri. The four teams representing Hudson Valley will be:

  • i^2 robotics of Westport, CT
  • Quantum Mechanics of the Dalton School, New York, NY
  • NanoGurus of Morris Plains, NJ
  • Robogamers of New York, NY

We’d like to thank our Seidenberg student volunteers: Ethan Garrison, Sep DiMeglio, Zakiya Sims, Arize Lee, Diego Reyes-Rojas, Norissa Lamaute, Jordan Adelman, Carlo Clarke, David Bernstein and Joel Thomas.

A big thanks also to our staff and faculty who helped make the day possible: Belle Krupchek, Ava Posner, Andreea Cotoranu, Jean Coppola, Julie Gauthier, Larry Perlstein and Bernice Houle.

As if that wasn’t enough, several alumni also lent a hand! Thank you Joe Acampora, John Checco, Rocco Donofrio, Steve Grosmark, Marc Kearney, Alex Quick and Paat Sinsuwan.

IMG_6858This event wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the efforts of Dr. Rick Kline, our robotics champ. A hearty thank you and congratulations to Dr. Kline!

Introducing the 2016 Pace Cyber Team

Who’s that?

Let us introduce you to the 2016 Pace Cyber Team! From left to right, back row first: Benjamin Longobardi, Kenneth Almodovar, Gabriel Rivera, Joel Thomas, Norissa Lamaute, Mario Pichardo, and Jordan Adelman. In the front row: Joseph Glasser, Carlo Clarke, and Alexa Piccoli

These cybersecurity enthusiasts trained assiduously throughout the fall semester in preparation to compete in the Northeast Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NECCDC). The competition season started with a qualifier aiming to place the team for the regional event. Unfortunately, in spite of obtaining a qualifying score in the virtual qualifier, the team could not proceed to the regionals.

Wait… what happened?

Well, it was all Jonas’ fault! Don’t worry, Jonas is not one of the team members, but the snow storm that blasted our region on January 23, 2016. It was Jonas who forced these warriors to compete in their PJs from the comfort of their homes, rather than from their cyber den on the Pleasantville campus (aka Security Lab). We know, we know, the event was virtual, so why did this matter? Well, the game requires that the team be in one location, and their performance be observed by competition officials who ensure all rules are abided by.

Thanks a lot, Jonas!

What is CDCC?

For those not familiar with the event, CCDC is a highly regarded security competition with tiers at the state, regional, and national level. The competition challenges students to practice both their technical and business skills. Student teams are engaged in the process of securing and managing a small business network, which includes maintaining a set of critical services and responding to business requests (injects), all while defending against a “red team” attacking the network. Critical services include e-mail server, e-commerce site, DNS, etc. Examples of injects from this year’s competition include performing host vulnerability assessment and hardening, monitoring web site integrity, performing an assessment of external services, configuring NTP and a centralized logging service, and identifying and reporting on network attacks to name a few.

That sounds awesome, how do I join?

You’d be more than welcome to take part! Team training continues throughout the spring semester, primarily on weekends. The team meets in the Security Lab on the Pleasantville campus. Students interested in joining the team should reach out to Andreea Cotoranu at acotoranu@pace.edu – all skill levels are welcome!

And it’s all thanks to…

The Pace Cyber Team is supported by Dr. Li-Chiou Chen, Professor and Chair of the IT Department (WEST), and is coached by Professor Andreea Cotoranu and graduate assistant, Joseph Glasser.