PhD student Sandra Kopecky to present cybersecurity paper at London Computing Conference

PhD student Sandra Kopecky will be presenting her paper “Cyber Security Paradox from a User’s View Point” at Computing Conference in London this summer.

The conference, sponsored by IEEE, will see Sandra presenting her work to an international audience of peers. The publication of the paper will fulfil one of the dissertation requirements and put Sandra one step closer to earning her Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science.

“I was ecstatic to receive acceptance notice,” Sandra said. “This is an SAI-IEEE conference, and I’m going to be presenting my paper along with others in a session at this conference. Wow!! I haven’t done that before.”

Given that Sandra was the sole author of the paper, having it accepted for publication and presentation at the conference is a big deal.

“I’ve been on various panels discussing cyber security, women in the engineering/computer field, my view point as a college student – at various levels, and my background. But never to present my work,” Sandra said.

So why did Sandra choose a unique topic like cybersecurity from a user’s point of view?

“There is much written and researched, however the point of view is almost always from a company’s point of view and the user just has to accept it, no questions asked,” Sandra explained. “Cybersecurity affects everyone in every field across the board. I decided to look at this from a different point of view: that of the user. This paper is the beginnings of that broader topic.”

Sounds like a great paper – the idea of ‘user first’ is no stranger to user experience and human-computer interaction, and it’s certainly interesting to hear about one of our students considering the user’s viewpoint when it comes to cybersecurity, too. Enjoy the conference, Sandra, and we can’t wait to hear about it when you get back!

Seidenberg students snatch first and second spot at Pace Pitch Contest

Another year, another incredible performance at the annual Pace Pitch Contest from Seidenberg students. We couldn’t be more proud of Rachel González, Andrew Ku, and Rohana Sosa for taking the top two spots in the contest.

The competition, now in its thirteenth year, challenges students to pitch their ideas with constraints based on the famous Elevator Pitch, the technique of giving a concise and compelling pitch in a very short period of time.

Finalists in the competition had three minutes to give their pitches, which they did on Thursday, April 20, 2017, in the Bianco Room at Pace University. During their presentations, they were judged on their ability to provide: a description of their idea; a market analysis; the specs of their product or service; identification of potential competitors; a marketing strategy; how they aim to produce and deliver their product or service; an assessment of their management; a finances overview; and an investment proposal.

Plenty of Seidenberg students and teams made it to the final round – here are the teams including some of our amazing entrepreneurs!

George Samuels and Arton Mirakaj presenting Atmosphere.

Arton Mirakaj (BA in Computer Science) and George Samuels (BS in Computer Science) presented Atmosphere, a VR mobile application that will be used to improve the health and care of aging populations – the same app that went on to win at the #WestchesterSmart Mobile App Development Bowl!

First place winners Rachel Gonzáles and Danielle Ran pitching Minute Mantra.

Minute Mantra is a health and wellness app that enables mindfulness and clarity, and was developed by Rachel González (BS in Information Systems) alongside Danielle Ran (BBA in Marketing with minor in Psychology).

Thanh Do, Phuc Pham, and Syman Li present charity app TouchDonation.

TouchDonation makes giving to charity simple and was created by Phuc Pham (BS in Information Technology with a minor in Quantitative Business Analysis), Syman Li (BBA in Hospitality) and Thanh Do (BBA in Finance).

Second place winners Andrew Ku and Rohana Sosa with their idea VAICAM Pi.

Seidenberg students Andrew Ku (BS in Information Systems) and Rohana Sosa (BS in Computer Science with minor in Computing Information Technology) created VAICAM Pi. VAICAM Pi is bundled as an Android mobile app, a Google Cardboard virtual reality (VR) headset, and a Raspberry Pi 3, equipped with a 360 camera and artificial intelligence to function as an older person’s own artificially intelligent security camera.

Ricky Harris, Mackenzie Dolishny, and Daniel Citardi pitching VR Discover, an app aimed to improve the lives of aging populations.

Finally, VR Discover – an app built for both Android and iOS, utilizes virtual reality to stimulate cognitive function, provide entertainment, and relieve restlessness stemming from sundowning for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia – was built by computer science students Ricky Harris, Daniel Citardi, and Mackenzie Dolishny. This innovative app also made an appearance at the #WestchesterSmart Mobile App Development bowl, where the team won a prize.

When it was time for the judges to make their decisions, students from Seidenberg snatched up first and second place!

Rachel González and Lubin student Danielle Ran took first place, bagging $1,000 to use toward developing their mindfulness app, Minute Mantra.

Andrew Ku and Rohana Sosa won the second prize of $500 for their artificial intelligence security app, VAICAM Pi.

Rohana and Andrew receive their award with the contest judges

Speaking about her experience, Rohana Sosa remarked that she and Andrew “both had a great experience and a lot of fun being participants in the Pitch Contest. This gave us the opportunity to showcase our talents and apply our programming skills to a business setting. Having this experience is a stepping stone to further our learning process and achieve our educational goals. The contest provided an enriching and stimulating experience to test our ideas and see how impactful the our mobile app concept is.”

There were certainly a wealth of impactful apps and ideas presented at the contest. You can see all of the finalists at the Entrepreneurship Lab website.

Third annual #WestchesterSmart Mobile App Development Bowl aims to improve lives of aging populations

Once again, the #WestchesterSmart Mobile App Development Bowl enabled hundreds of talented young high school and college students showcase their STEM skills in a competition to build apps to improve the lives of older people.

In partnership with Westchester County, this year’s iteration of the competition was its biggest yet, with over 440 students from 18 high schools and three universities taking part.

The mobile app bowl takes place over three monthly sessions, the first two consisting of intense training where students learn how to build mobile applications catered to aging populations. On the third day, which took place on Friday, April 28, at Pace University’s Pleasantville Campus, teams presented their apps and the winners were decided.

County Executive Robert P. Astorino presented the awards to the winners in a variety of categories, including awards for creativity, usability, and functionality. Winners of the YouTube Social Challenge earned trips to Google and YouTube studios in New York City, and prizes were also given for high school coach of the year and college coach of the year – the latter being won by our very own Jean Coppola.

On top of the category awards, the #WestchesterSmart award, a grand prize of $1,000 cash and swag from Panasonic was up for grabs.

“The #WestchesterSmart Mobile App Development Bowl sends a strong statement to our students, as well as our communities and businesses, that Westchester is a place where smart things are happening,” said County Executive Rob Astorino.

The grand prize was snatched up by KanjiStick, the team from the New School’s Parsons School of Design, who created an app aimed to assist older people overcome issues typically experienced when interacting with technology. The team focused on creating an app that assisted with hearing, vision, and dexterity problems, allowing users to enjoy a smoother experience.

Teams from Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems also took prizes in the event:

Dean Jonathan Hill with Daniel Citardi and Ricky Harris (Run DMR), and Rob Astorino

Teams Run DMR and Programmers Box took second and third prize in the Mobile App Creativity category respectively.

Team QWERTY accepts their prize for mobile app usability

Team QWERTY won second place in the Mobile App Usability category.

Programmers Box won third place for mobile app functionality

In the Mobile App Functionality category, teams Bice and Programmers Box achieved second and third place respectively.

Downtown Developers won functionality and YouTube Social Challenge awards

Tours of Google and YouTube were won by Downtown Developers, and Vida is Real.

Rob Astorino with team Vida is Real, Arton Mirakaj and George Samuels, and Dean Jonathan Hill

“Once again, we are blown away by the talent of the students who participate in the Westchester Smart Mobile App Development Bowl,” said Jonathan Hill, dean of the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace. “Their work will improve the quality of life for older citizens throughout the area, helping them do everyday tasks and manage their lives better. This event grows every year and we hope to see even more student app developers next year.”

The full list of winners can be found at our #WestchesterSmart Mobile App site.

We would like to extend many thanks to our 2017 Partners and Sponsors, including Robert P. Astorino, Westchester County Executive; Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University; The Westchester County Office of Economic Development; Saberpoint; conEdison; Acordia Therapeutics; XL Catlin; The Bristal: Assisted Living; New York-Presbyterian; Virginia LeTourneau; Ursuline Foley; Liberty Lines Transit, Inc.; Sal’s Pizza and Pasta; and Nancy Goodman.

Read about last year’s mobile app development bowl.

Seidenberg student Tejas Chavan wins one of only two UXPA International scholarships

Dear Tejas,

On behalf of the UXPA International Board and the 2017 Student Scholarship Committee, we would like to congratulate you on winning the 2017 UXPA Student Scholarship Award.

Your entry was selected as it stood out to the judging panel for its content and originality. You will be joining us in Toronto next month for the UXPA 2017 International Conference!

That was the email Tejas Chavan (MS in Information Systems) received informing him about the scholarship he’d just won to the UXPA 2017 International Conference. This wouldn’t be the first time Tejas has travelled to another country for a conference – in fact, the last time was less than a year ago – but it’s certainly going to be an event he will attend with career goals in mind.

“Since I will be graduating soon, and I will be looking for a full-time opportunity (obviously in UX), I have been attending lots of meetups, and conferences where I can showcase myself and make some good connections as well,” Tejas said. “With that context, I was recently shortlisted by UXDC committee for their UXDC2017 annual summit on April 14th to present my poster and to represent the Seidenberg School and Pace University as a student delegate.”

Tejas has spent his final semester working with Professor Stacey Sarris on an independent study project regarding research methods in human-computer interaction (HCI). It was while working on this project that Tejas met the president of UXPA DC, Ali Tobolsky. Tejas had been reaching out to UX industry experts to survey them for an assignment; Ali was one of them.

“Now the real story starts,” Tejas explained. “I connected her on LinkedIn and sent her my survey link asking if she can forward it to any relevant contacts. She sent me a number of links to groups where I could try my luck. So, I was submitting my survey in each group and I stumbled upon this post saying ‘UXPA International 2017 Student Scholarship.’ I thought since it came it to me from nowhere, I should give it a try. I submitted my application which consisted of a few questions and a letter of recommendation, which I got from Prof. Sarris. I had a very strict deadline to submit it within two days since I got to know about it pretty late.”

Tejas Chavan with Professor Stacey Sarris after getting the good news that Tejas was awarded the scholarship
Tejas Chavan with Professor Stacey Sarris

The submission went through in time, and Tejas received an email from Sara Mastro, the UXPA International Vice President, and Jack Holmes, the UXPA Student Scholarship Award Chair, telling him that he was a scholarship recipient.

“I cannot really believe that I am one of the two winning students from the world. I am feeling ecstatic for getting selected for this award and I would like to thank Prof. Stacey and all my other friends for being a solid support throughout this journey.”

The conference is taking place in Toronto this year, and Tejas will receive flights and transportation, four nights at a hotel, registration to the conference and a year’s membership to UXPA International.

Professor Stacey Sarris, who is an expert in user experience and user interface design, said: “I’m very proud of Tejas; he has thrown himself into User Centered Design, created opportunities for himself, and has taken advantage of everything that comes his way.” Stacey

“I’ve already started packing my bags!” Tejas added.

But wait! There’s more!

Not long after Tejas’ great news, the kind folks at Seidenberg decided they didn’t want him to be lonely, so we are sending his teammates with him to attend the conference and represent their project and the Seidenberg School in Toronto!

Now, Abhishek Kale (MS in Information Systems), Nayana Madhekar (MS in Information Systems), and Honglin Yi (MS in Computer Science) will also get to attend and participate in this exciting conference.

The UX gang is excited to be going to Toronto!
From left to right, Professor Stacey Sarris and her students Nayana Madhekar, Honglin Yi, Abhishek Kale, and Tejas Chavan

Congratulations to all four of these incredible students and to Professor Sarris! We can’t wait to hear how the conference goes!

The 15th Annual Michael L. Gargano Student-Faculty Research Day

On May 5, 2017, members of the Pace community gathered for the 15th Michael L. Gargano Faculty-Student research day. This year’s conference was dedicated to the work of Frank Rosenblatt, an American psychologist notable in the field of artificial intelligence for the invention of perceptrons, a class of neural networks.

Rosenblatt is also considered the ‘father of Deep Learning,’ as his development of perceptrons has evolved into deep learning networks.

Dean Jonathan Hill makes his opening remarks at the Michael L Gargano Faculty Student Research DayThe Dean of the Seidenberg School, Dr. Jonathan Hill, kicked off the event. “I am delighted to see so many people here today,” he said. “This research day is a brilliant reflection of the doctoral work going on here, the master level research that is taking place, and the undergraduate research that is a hallmark of this School, and indeed the University.”

Dr. Hill spoke about the history of the day, including the decision to name it after Michael Gargano, who he described as “one of the forces of life.”

“He recruited many people [to our DPS program] and served as advisor to them. I think a lot of us have worked overtime to make up for Michael’s loss and to bring the energy that he had.

“The only way we can do that . . . is to be learned, to read widely, and to speak to each other about our work, and create an environment where people can come together and share their work.”

Dr. Hill then introduced Dr. Charles Tappert, who manages the DPS program and organized the day.

Dr. Tappert gave a presentation about Frank Rosenblatt, who had been his dissertation advisor, and deep learning. “Deep learning is now causing a revolution in artificial intelligence,” he said. He argued for Rosenblatt receiving the title of ‘father of deep learning’ – as there are quite a few people up for the name – and spoke about his significant contributions to the field.

Afterwards, the conference began in earnest! It was an extremely packed day, with many students and faculty presenting their papers on myriad topics. The day was split into four paper sessions: the first was about data analytics and the internet of things, the second was about mobile applications and miscellaneous information technology, the third, machine learning, and the final section focused on biometrics, security, optimizations, and knowledge representation. Each section included between nine and twelve papers, making for a busy day of learning.

Student Steven Porras with his research project PowerShell Forensics
Student Steven Porras with his research project PowerShell Forensics

The list of presentations is too long to include here, but you can check it out on Charles Tappert’s university page. Slideshows and papers are all available on the website, so be sure to check them out!

A hearty congratulations to all who presented this year – we look forward to seeing you again in 2018!

Read about last year’s record-breaking research day.

Student Carlo Clarke presented his research on Vulnerabilities within Wireless Protocols
Student Carlo Clarke presented his research on Vulnerabilities within Wireless Protocols

Celebrating our latest PhD success: Dr. Mohammad “Vahid” Vahidalizadehdizaj!

We are delighted to share that Mohammad “Vahid” Vahidalizadehdizaj has freshly earned the title of “Dr.” following the successful defense of his PhD thesis!

A student of the PhD in Computer Science program, Vahid chose to explore security and privacy in e-commerce over mobile phones. This is an issue that requires continuous attention, and a very worthy one of doctoral level study.

Dr. Lixin Tao was the advisor for Vahid’s journey to doctorate. The committee was comprised of Dr. Charles Tappert and Dr. Mehdi Badii; Professor Avery Leider and fellow PhD candidate, Nikhil Saxena, were also present – and Professor Leider took several videos to document the moment!

“It was fun watching Vahid defend and defend his thesis against all comers,” said Prof. Leider.

Vahid is our second ever student to earn a PhD, joining Dr. Vinnie Monaco as one of our incredible PhD alums.

The new Dr. Vahidalizadehdizaj said: “I want to thank my mother and father for supporting me on this road. I want to thank Dean Jonathan Hill and Dr. Paul Benjamin for their guidance. I want to thank my advisor, Dr. Lixin Tao for his advice. I want to thank my wonderful committee members Dr. Charles Tappert and Dr. Badii for their wise comments and questions.”

Here’s the abstract of Vahid’s dissertation, “An Efficient Decentralized Mobile Payment Protocol With Improved Security and Privacy”:

The exponential growth of mobile devices makes them a suitable computing platform for electronic payment. However, there are serious challenges in e-commerce transactions, such as privacy protection, security, bandwidth limitations of mobile networks, and limited capabilities of mobile devices to handle excess or indirect computational time. The traditional e-commerce payment protocols that were originally designed to keep track of the traditional flows of data from desktop computers are vulnerable to attacks, and because they were not designed for mobile platforms, have excessive engineering overhead. In this thesis, a new private mobile payment protocol is introduced that is designed specifically for the mobile platform. It is based on a client-centric model that utilizes symmetric key operations. The protocol reduces the computational cost (the engineering overhead) of Diffie-Hellman key agreement protocol by using the algebra of logarithms instead of the algebra of exponents. The protocol achieves proper privacy protection for the payer by involving mobile network operators and generating temporary identities. It avoids replay attacks by using random time-stamp generated numbers.

Congratulations Dr. Vahid – we can’t wait to see where your new qualification takes you!