Robots fight it out for top spot in FTC competition

What better way to spend a wintry Sunday than watching robots battle it out for the top spot in the First Tech Challenge regional championship? On

February 5th, Seidenberg hosted the 8th annual challenge that saw teams from New York and nearby states descend upon our Pleasantville campus and compete for prizes.

Teams comprised of grades 7-12 students who, over a period of months, had to design, build, and program robots to complete specific types of challenges. They don’t go in unprepared, though. Dr. Richard Kline of the Seidenberg School and organizer of the event also arranges training workshops for students so they can learn. Robot building and programming is at “team workshops where high school students learn design and programming skills using Java and the Android Studio mobile app development system,” said Dr. Kline.

Each year, the contest is different, so even competitors who have taken part before had a unique challenge on their hands!

The excitement in the air was palpable in the moments before the first round of the tournament kicked off. “This is your Super Bowl,” Seidenberg Dean Jonathan Hill told the crowd in his opening remarks.

Dr. Kline thanked everybody for coming out to the championship, which we have also hosted in previous years. He went on to emphasize the main tenets of the First Tech Challenge (FTC) events: gracious professionalism and acting with kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition.

Then it was time to start! Challenges in the competition focused on teams’ abilities to make quick decisions, as they received just 30 seconds to program their robots followed by two minutes where they could use controllers to move them around.

The game was called Velocity Vortex. Robots were tasked to scoop up wiffle balls and a larger yoga ball and throw them into hoops, kind of like basketball. While doing so, they could also claim beacons, which were lights that could be triggered to display their team color.

Each team played in 5 matches for the chance to win trophies, scholarships, internship opportunities and good old fashioned glory.

And the results?

Inspire Award – top overall team as determined by the judges

  • Winner: 4347 NanoGurus, home-based team from Morris Plains NJ
  • 2nd: 5484 Enderbots, home-based team from Corning, NY
  • 3rd: 7488 Nuts & Volts, Suffern High School, Suffern NY

Competition Winners – champions of the elimination tournament that ended the day – an “alliance” of three teams

  • Alliance Captain: 6081 i^2robotics, home-based team from Westport, CT
  • 1st Partner: 6347 Geared Up, home-based team from Rome, NY
  • 2nd Partner: 5484 Enderbots

Competition Runners-Up

  • Alliance Captain: 7486 Team Fusion, Suffern High School, Suffern NY
  • 1st Partner: 4347 NanoGurus
  • 2nd Partner: 12052 Ossining O-Bots, Ossining High School, Ossining NY

It was an exciting and memorable event, helped by the continued dedication of Dr. Kline and volunteers that helped the day run smoothly.

Dr. Kline said: “We are thrilled that so many Seidenberg students and alumni volunteer their time to assist these great robotics teams, not only at the championship, but at the five qualifying tournaments we have held.”

New York Times ranks Pace University high for return on investment

A recent study featured in the New York Times ranked Pace University as number two in the nation for the upward mobility of our students. The article, titled America’s Great Working-Class Colleges, featured a study that listed “colleges ranked by percent of students from the bottom fifth of the income distribution who end up in the top three-fifths.

Pace was also ranked in a report published in The Fiscal Times where it appeared in the top slot of colleges ranked by mobility rate. Despite being a smaller institution, Pace University came out first with a success rate of 55.6 percent of low income students eventually becoming outstanding earners.

Graduates of the Seidenberg School can potentially be among those high earners: the average starting salary for undergraduate degree holders is $72,413, and for graduate degree holders it is $83,050.

 

 

Melanie Greene and Dr. James Lawler present inclusion programs for students with disabilities

By Melanie Greene

It was an honor to attend  the Faculty Resource Network’s National Symposium in Atlanta in November. I co-presented with Dr. James Lawler on inclusion programs for students with disabilities in the Seidenberg School. I spoke about the class I took with Dr. Lawler (CIS 102w Web Design for a Not-for-Profit Organization), mentoring students in AHRC’s junior high school and high school programs (they had different levels of autism; one was more severe than the other), mentoring and tutoring Adil Sanai, tutoring his students last semester in his two CIS 102w courses, the two research projects we worked on together, and being a co-moderator for the Disability Film Festival. I got the chance to speak about all of my experiences that I have had working with people with disabilities.

I am uplifted and inspired by Dr. Lawler’s drive and commitment to give people with disabilities access to a college education. I support everything that he is doing.​ I get very emotional talking about all the adventures and learning experiences I have had with Dr. Lawler – they have been life changing opportunities that affect me deeply.

During the conference, we went to three different schools: Morehouse College (an all-male college where Dr. Martin Luther King went), Spelman College (all-female college), and Clark Atlanta University (co-ed).  All of the schools were beautiful, it was a privilege to visit them. I got choked up when we went to Morehouse College because Dr. King went there. I felt like I was walking through history. At the school they had a picture of President Obama delivering the Commencement speech in 2013 and I was in awe: both President Obama and Dr. Martin Luther King’s presences were there.

At the conference, I got the chance to meet other professors from schools  in NY, Atlanta, Hawaii, and others. I enjoyed listening to their research and learning about how we could use social media and technology platforms to teach millennials.

Dr. Lawler and I went to a delicious Italian restaurant one night and a Brazilian restaurant (it was my first time going to a Brazilian restaurant). We invited a professor from Spelman College that I met to join us for dinner, which was a lot of fun. One night our bus broke down which was an experience in itself. The bus was literally like the engine that could. When we broke down one professor started to play Bob Marley “Don’t Worry” and we all chimed in – it was priceless. The bus kept trying to get us all back to the hotel, but unfortunately it failed. We had to walk back to the hotel. On our final day we visited the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. I was overwhelmed with emotion, I had the chills the whole time – history was brought to life. To walk where Dr. King walked, to stand in the area where he preached in Ebenezer Baptist Church, to see the pole in the firehouse where he played on as a child, and lastly to see his grave was indescribable.

My favorite part of the trip was having the privilege to present with Dr. Lawler.  This certainly is a weekend that I will never forget. I thank Dr. Lawler and the Seidenberg School for giving me the opportunity to attend this conference. I will always cherish the incredible memories from this trip.

Win cash, paid internships, tech, at the #WestchesterSmart Mobile App Development Bowl

The third annual #WestchesterSMART Mobile App Development Bowl is almost ready to kick off at Pace University, but there’s still time to register for the chance to win cash prizes, paid internship, and plenty of awesome tech gear.

The Mobile App Development Bowl is run through a partnership with the Seidenberg School and Westchester County’s Office of Economic Development.

The free-to-enter event, which puts teams of college and high school students in competition to create the best mobile apps, will commence officially on February 3 with a pep rally and design and development workshops aimed to teach competitors how to build quality mobile apps.

As ever, teams must build MAAPs – Mobile Apps for Aging Populations. The prevalence of technology grows along with our population, and there is a great opportunity to use technology to improve the daily lives of people aged 65 or older.

Creating apps, hardware, and other bits of tech for aging populations is part of a field called gerontechnology, which is one of Seidenberg School’s research areas. The idea is to research ways in which technology can be used to improve the daily lives of older people, and many excellent solutions have been explored by students at the mobile app bowl in the past two years.

Despite being heavily underrepresented in the mobile app development field, the aging population is the fastest growing consumer group, meaning that a focus on older mobile users is key to keeping the app development industry vibrant and innovative.

It’s also an excellent opportunity for students from the Pace community and beyond to hone their skills, get some real world experience, and feel out potential career paths.

Over two sessions of workshops before judging on April 28, teams will work together to build an app that truly aims to do some good in the world.

Last year’s event included extensive news coverage and was attended by Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino. The series was created by Seidenberg faculty member Jean Coppola and brought 250 students to Pace’s Pleasantville campus to compete in the 2016 challenge.

If you have an idea for a mobile app or want to take part in an exciting challenge that helps the community, register today. Registrations are open for both teams and individuals, who will be placed into teams before the kick off.

Check out our dedicated #WestchesterSmart Mobile App Development Bowl page for further info.

Seidenberg represents at CERN Design Factory

In the STEM world, there are few places that will make people gasp with awe. CERN is one of them, and during one special week in December, several Seidenberg staff and faculty were there.

CERN is one of the world’s largest and most respected centers for scientific research. It’s also home to a Design Factory, which this year was the host of International Design Factory Week, an annual meeting of Design Factories around the globe to collaborate, bond, and have a good time with other members of the network.

Why were we there?

Pace University recently opened our very own entrant into the Design Factory Global Network (DGFN) – the NYC Design Factory. The purpose of these factories is to build a space within a community where members can research, collaborate, give and get feedback, and ultimately develop excellent ideas and products that solve problems. They do so using a methodology called Design Thinking, a non-traditional way of working that we hope to bring into the mainstream through NYC Design Factory and across the greater Seidenberg and Pace community.

But back to CERN. Delegates from Seidenberg included Dean Jonathan Hill, Professor Stacey Sarris, and Program Manager Olga Bogomolova. They flew out to Geneva, Switzerland, over the weekend preceding the Dec 12th kickoff.

Checking out CERN

So what did our envoys think? “CERN was the perfect backdrop for a collaborative Design Factory global event given that CERN is proof that anything is possible and that’s what Design Factory is about!” said Professor Stacey Sarris.

“CERN is this amazing, dynamic place with thousands of scientists – most of them physicists with some computer scientists sprinkled in – who are working on some of the largest physics problems in the world today. You can’t not be inspired spending a day there among the world’s top science minds,” Dean Jonathan Hill said.

Minds blown at the LHC and birthplace of the internet

Do you want to collaborate?

45 people from 15 countries attended the event. Olga explained the benefits of having an annual get together. “We all have strengths and areas of focus, so when we get together we can exchange ideas and best practices and brainstorm ways of working together. Because we are so different, we can leverage our differences to create a wholesome experience for our students.

There are 16 universities or institutions around the world that think similarly and practice design thinking, project based learning; we have a similar way of thinking and doing things. By getting to know each other, you learn that if you want to work with an institution in Australia, Korea, China, Columbia, and so on, I can just send someone from that country’s design factory a message and say ‘I have an idea, do you want to collaborate?’

Just knowing that even if you don’t know someone in the country there is an institution of people that think the same way as you… it breaks down barriers. The week is great because we get to meet each other as human beings, which helps us work together.”

Top secret

International Design Factory Week has several goals. The first one is to meet and get to know one another. People were spending 10-16 hours per day with each other, so that wasn’t difficult! The second goal was to come up with a project for everybody to work on together. “There’s so many of us, covering the whole world and different timezones. Coming up with a project to leverage the whole network sounds difficult, but we did it,” said Olga. “It’s top secret.”

Top secret? Yeah, right – we found your Mannequin Challenge video, DFGN! We know what you really got up to! Just kidding – but watch their amazing video below!

Seidenberg students head to Finland for 6th Product Development Project

During the fall semester, six students headed to Helsinki, Finland, for Pace’s 6th year of participation in Product Development Project (PDP). The Finnish destination was the Aalto Design Factory, located at Aalto University.

This was a special trip as it came shortly after Pace University opened our very own Design Factory, the NYC Design Factory located here at Seidenberg School.

ava-posnerOnce they had arrived at the Aalto Design Factory, it was time to get started. Attendees met teammates and participated in PD6 – product development in 6 hours. Everyone was then split into two teams: KONE, an established elevator company, and Seecode, a tech startup.

We chatted with students on each team. Representing KONE was Mansoor Baba Shaik (MS Information Systems). Ava Posner (BS Information Technology) was on the Seecode team. Ava was also busy snapchatting the trip for a Snapchap takeover of the Pace University account.

Each team not only consisfinland-3ted of diverse members but was filled with different levels of expertise based on each member’s background. This worked well because the teams were able to work more efficiently in order to make it a collaborative process.

For the first few days/nights, the team members spent most of their time bonding and getting to know one another. Besides working hard, the students were allowed to explore and experience what it was like to live in Finland. mansoor-baba-shaikOn the following days it was time to get down to work!

The KONE team visited KONE headquarters, where each member of the team had the chance to use the mobile operated elevator which is being tested on and which will become the first mobile operated elevator in the world.

The Seecode team also visited the umbrella company NOMO 3D headquarters.

Teams were assigned tasks to be completed during sprints of PD6, utilizing design thinking methodologies.

finland-2For Seecode, the team was to build a prototype that would be used to scan individual body images in order to help design custom made outfits for buyers throughout the world. The aim is to make online clothes shopping a less uncertain experience: who hasn’t bought their size online only to find it doesn’t fit?

Team KONE had to come up with a product allowing a self controlled drone to deliver packages to customers directly via the building’s elevator. The idea is that a delivery company could program a drone operate an elevator so it can deliver packages to the correct person directly. I shouldn’t come as a surprise that Amazon is involved in this project.

As PDP is a two-part project, students will return to Helsinki for part two in May, 2017. In the meantime, both teams, being spread apart throughout the world, must remain in constant contact to finish their projects before the final presentation.

finland-7“We are excited to be a part of this amazing project and willing to put our 100% effort to achieve the final outcome of the project and present it in the gala”, said Mansoor. “We thank Pace University for selecting us for the Product Development Project and we feel it’s a great honor representing Pace University in a global event.”