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!

Student Blog: Quake Capital’s Brandon Maier looks to bring entrepreneurship to Pace University

A new program to introduce students to entrepreneurship is underway at Pace University. For her CIS 101 Intro to Computing class, Dyson student Maria Snelling interviewed Brandon Maier, managing partner at Quake Capital, about the importance of college in entrepreneurship and how students can make the most of school resources and opportunities to get hands-on experience for a great chance at success.

This blog post was written by Maria Snelling (BA in English and Communications ’20).

A New York University graduate, Brandon Maier first began as a Financial Controller for Bitcoin Exchange. Now, he is a managing partner at Quake Capital, specializing in recruiting companies to find beginning entrepreneurs through programs like the University Investor series, a program where Maier evaluates student pitches from ten different universities each month. This series allows students to potentially land investors like Quake Capital as well as have one-on-one work with these investors to start a business with them.

In addition, he judges several entrepreneurial competitions such as Princeton’s Tiger Launch, New York State Venture Competition, and several others at Columbia University and Carnegie Mellon.

The importance of doing research and getting practical experience cannot be stressed enough. “Most undergrads who create a company are not all Mark Zuckerberg,” Maier says. “They do not have the practical experience and work experience. A lot of them are going off the idea basis of what they think people need.”

At Pace University, a new program (similar to a high school workshop format) to introduce entrepreneurship to students is in process. Quake Capital wants to give college students the chance to experiment and find out if entrepreneurship is something they wish to pursue in the future. “Colleges teach you the right way to start a company,” Maier explains. He encourages young entrepreneurs at the college level to take risks, utilize resources at school, and build companies. “People have to do it to figure out if they love it, not just read it in a book.”

 

Seidenberg celebrates at the 22nd annual Leadership & Service in Technology award reception

Now in its 22nd year, the Leadership & Service in Technology (LST) award is bigger and better than ever, and this year’s celebration was an unforgettable evening.

On Monday, April 24, 2017, an impressive company of Seidenberg supporters came together as we honored Senior Executive Vice President and CIO at BNY Mellon Suresh Kumar for his pioneering leadership and innovative thinking in transforming finance and technology practices throughout his exceptional career.

Marie Wieck, Sara Chipps, Niamh Fitzsimon, and Lucille Mayer, our speakers for tonight and incredible women in technology
A major theme of the evening was women in technology as evidenced by our amazing speakers

BNY Mellon kindly provided the space and the catering for the LST awards at its downtown location. Guests enjoyed appetizers and a full bar during the networking hour before the main event. The room was packed with many of our dearest friends, including Seidenberg alumni, business partners, and friends from the Pace community. It was a warm atmosphere as people greeted old friends they hadn’t seen in a while, made new ones, and shared a fun evening and business cards alike. Seidenberg students were also present to give demonstrations of their projects facilitated by the NYC Design Factory.

Niamh Fitzsimon accepts certificate from Jonathan Hill
Niamh Fitzsimon and Jonathan Hill

When awards time came, guests were seated and Dr. Jonathan Hill, Dean of the Seidenberg School, introduced the first speaker of the night – our student, Niamh Fitzsimon. Niamh is an honors student, vice president of Pace Women in Tech, and resident Googler (she’s interned there twice so far and will do again this summer!).

“Because of you, I have been able to push myself above and beyond what I could imagine,” Niamh said. “You provided me a platform to grow my confidence, network, and skills, and I am extremely grateful for your contributions towards the education of myself and my peers. I am highly honored to share the effect of your donations on my community.”

Following Niamh’s remarks, Lucille Mayer, the Chief Information Officer of Client Experience Delivery at BNY Mellon took to the stage to introduce the keynote speaker. Lucille has worked with the evening’s honoree Suresh Kumar for over 25 years. “Suresh is not only a visionary, as you’ll hear for yourself, but he is also a leader in championing and developing talent,” she said.

Lucille Mayer discusses success in the tech industry
Lucille Mayer on success in the tech industry

Lucille briefly discussed success in the tech industry, including the top tech trends for the year such as augmented reality, which has seen a swift increase in recent years due to the creation of virtual reality headsets and the release of mobile app games like Pokemon Go.

“Success depends upon the user or the client experience of the technology,” she said. “Technology is no longer about being the guy or the woman behind the curtain . . . technology is the business.”

She then introduced the evening’s keynote, Marie Wieck, General Manager at IBM Blockchain. Marie discussed the exponential growth of data and the benefits of diversity.

“Some of the stats in tech right now are quite frankly astonishing,” Marie said. “Think about data. In the last two years we have created more data than we have created as a species in the time period prior.”

She added: “Those people who can mine insights of out that data are the people who are going to accelerate their business.” Data analytics is certainly a burgeoning industry right now as companies scramble to make sense of the immense volume of data that is now collected through websites, social media, and other digital interactions.

Marie Wieck, General Manager at IBM Blockchain
Marie Wieck – more women on boards mean better results

Marie also spoke towards greater diversity in the workplace, particularly regarding more women in technology. “What constitutes the best performance you can get?” she asked. “New perspectives that help you see things in a different way and that is fuel for innovation.

“It’s not those who have the highest IQ but those who have the biggest EQ [emotional quotient] . . . and what brings higher EQ? More women.

“When you have three or more women on a board, you begin to get financial results.”

Marie noted that 36% of the Seidenberg School’s student base are women compared to a 20% national average – a statistic we are proud of and are committed to improve.

“You have to teach people the art of the possible . . . 74% of girls are interested in STEM, but only a third of them pursue it,” Marie said. Many of the girls who pursue STEM had mentors, teachers, counselors who pushed them.

“When you think about gender partnership, role models don’t have to be people you know. We also have to advocate for the people you don’t know.”

Marie finished with an inspirational request. “We know Pace is a trailblazer. We know BNY Mellon is a trailblazer . . . mentor a student. Share the opportunity to highlight someone who is doing something exceptional. Give people a voice. Share the wealth.”

Sara Chipps and Matthew Knell
Sara Chipps and Matthew Knell

After Marie’s keynote, alumni and Seidenberg Advisory Board member, Matthew Knell, introduced the Emerging NYC Innovator Awardee, Sara Chipps. Sara is the CEO of Jewelbots, which produces programmable friendship bracelets that can connect with other bracelets in the surrounding area, enabling wearers to send each other secret messages using code. The bracelets are aimed toward middle-school girls to encourage them to get into STEM education.

As Jonathan Hill remarked after her presentation, “Technology isn’t about selling for top dollar; it’s about giving back in some way.”

Dr. Hill then introduced the honoree of this year’s LST award.

Jonathan Hill presents the Leadership and Service in Technology award to Suresh Kumar
Jonathan Hill presents the Leadership and Service in Technology award to Suresh Kumar

Suresh Kumar is the Senior Executive Vice President and CIO for BNY Mellon, where he is leading the Client Technology Solutions organization to become the industry leader in delivering innovative solutions that enable clients and employees to succeed.

Suresh gave a wonderful presentation with excellent advice for our students and the community overall. His exemplary leadership style was apparent as he spoke: “I’m really privileged every day to work with an amazing group of colleagues all over the world,” he said.

Suresh Kumar
Suresh Kumar

“We all come from different places, different backgrounds, but each of us rely on education to get where we are. And the Pace Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems has long leveled the playing field . . . regardless of gender, ethnic background, and income.”

The LST award honoree went on to talk about how companies should embrace innovation and disruption for great results. Using Amazon as an example of a company that constantly innovates its techniques, offerings, and practices, Suresh warned against remaining stagnant, particularly when your competition does not.

He also had four ‘rules to live by’ (or at least conduct business by).

1 – Focus on execution. Being the best is better than being first

Innovation is important, but means nothing if you have a bad product. Google wasn’t the first search engine, but it was the best when it was released. Doing a phenomenal job is 1% innovation, 99% perspiration.

2 – Evolve your business model

It’s important to keep up with (and create) what people want. Suresh described a period of four phases of how business models have evolved and have to evolve to stay ahead: the arrival of the internet in the mid-90s, the social media revolution in the mid-2000s, collaborative spaces (now) and autonomous working (emerging). Successful business models were platform-based and enabled consumers and providers to get together and create something valuable

3 – Reduce latency between end users and developers

Skype had 27 engineers. What’s App had 33. Instagram had 13. What made them create such a powerful product in such a short period of time? Constant innovation, and enough people on the team!

4 – Organize innovation efforts by service

Unfortunately, the IT department in many companies is still not considered to be the backbone of operations. That said, an emerging model of IT looks promising – teams are small, self-governing, and are empowered to make decisions and make a difference in a large company. When given the freedom to innovate, IT teams can change the whole way an organization works for the better.

Students Niamh Fitzsimon and Ava Posner with advisors Matt Brown and Kim Brazaitis
Students Niamh Fitzsimon and Ava Posner with advisors Matt Brown and Kim Brazaitis

We are truly delighted to honor Suresh Kumar and his wonderful work as a leader in technology and in his work with staff at BNY Mellon.

Thank you to Suresh Kumar and BNY Mellon for your contributions to the Seidenberg School and for hosting this year’s LST Award reception, ensuring it was a fantastic night for all.

“The gifts you have provided tonight are much needed,” Jonathan Hill told guests in his closing remarks. “Thank you.”

Students were at the event presenting their projects
Students were at the event presenting their projects

Our deepest gratitude also goes out to everybody who attended the event and showed their support to the School, whether by buying tickets or donating. Thank you to Lucille Mayer, Marie Wieck, Matthew Knell, and Sarah Chipps. Thanks also go to Deth Sao, our director of development, for her unending commitment to organizing an incredibly successful event.

We look forward to seeing you all again next year!

Seidenberg rocks the 2017 Women in Cybersecurity conference

A team of Seidenberg students and faculty jetted to Tucson, Arizona, for the fourth Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) conference, which took place on March 31-April 2, 2017. Seidenberg students applied for and obtained travel scholarships from Cisco, Facebook, as well as the Pace CyberCorps program in order to attend this event.

This year, around 800 cybersecurity including students, academics, and industry professionals attended the conference for technical workshops, career advice sessions, mentoring and networking, inspirational keynote talks, and a career fair. Some of the companies in attendance included Google, Cisco, Facebook, IBM, AT&T, Bank of America, and the U.S. intelligence.

Who was on the Seidenberg School team? Students Norissa Lamaute (MS/CS’17), Siobhan Kiernan (MS/CS’19), Kaitlyn – Kait- Bestenheider (MS/CS’19), Adriana Aluia (BS/IT’17) and Elizabeth – Lizzie- Molloy (BBA/IS’18), as well as faculty Dr. Li-Chiou Chen, Dr. Pauline Mosley, and Andreea Cotoranu attended.

The Seidenberg team wasn’t just at the conference to take it in – they were active participants. On the conference’s GenCyber day, which was filled with activities designed for high school students, the team hosted a Cyber Arcade. The arcade is a set of five challenges: cyber jeopardy, raspberry pi puzzle, cryptography with cipher wheel, mini-drones, and password strength. Seventy-five high-school students and teachers from the Tucson, AZ area attended the arcade, designed and run by Drs. Chen and Mosley with assistance from the entire Seidenberg team.

Seidenberg was also represented on the conference main stage! Norissa Lamaute gave a lightning talk on Musical Cryptography. Norissa’s research implements musical theory to create a consonant cipher that allows for the exchange of secret messages. This project also includes the work of Alexa Piccoli (MS/CS’16) and is advised by Dr. Chen and Andreea Cotoranu.

“The Women in Cybersecurity conference is always a greatly inspiring experience,” said Adriana Aluia. “This is the second year I’ve attended and every time I leave with new friends and connections.”

Kait Bestenheider added that “the opportunity to meet with so many successful women in a field where women make up only 11% of the demographic was simply amazing. While sometimes we might be the only woman in the room, there were almost a thousand of those women in the same room . . . This is a network of women ready to inspire and lead other women to their own success.” Kait covered her experience in her blog, Kait Tech.

Lizzie Molloy also found inspiration at the conference. “My WiCyS experience is something very hard to put into words, not because it wasn’t what I was expecting, it was everything I was expecting and more. […] One of my biggest takeaways from this event was the strong bond I createed with my fellow colleagues. [Together] we realized we can do things we always wanted to do and more. This experience has helped me shape my academic and professional future in many ways. There are more experiences and opportunities available that I never thought were even possible.”

Now that the 2017 WiCyS concluded, we have just started preparing for the 2018 event! We look to continue Seidenberg’s legacy of WiCyS engagement by presenting in the poster session, giving talks and hosting workshops at the 2018 WiCyS in Chicago, IL. If you have an interest in cybersecurity or you are currently working on research projects in cybersecurity, we would like to speak to you. Contact Andreea Cotoranu, Assistant Dean for Academic Innovation (acotoranu@pace.edu) with questions.

IBM’s Watson: the only thing in the world that MIGHT be smarter than a Pace student

By Kaitlyn Houlihan

On Friday, April 21, 2017, a group of Seidenberg students and faculty took a trip over to Yorktown Heights, NY, for an exclusive tour of the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, IBM’s chief research facility and home of the ThinkLab. The tour focused on ThinkLab’s main areas of research: artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

The tour began with the history of the facility, the key problems researchers are currently working on, and an introduction to the Watson computer. To add to the excitement, this presentation was delivered on a multi-screen viewing system guided by a sensor-based wand, which was inspired by the touch-screen interface used by Tom Cruise in the sci-fi film Minority Report.

Afterwards, we got a glimpse at the first quantum computer! Quantum computers may sound like technology from a sci-fi movie, but they are very real and ready to tackle complex problems, such as investigating molecular interactions, discovering new drugs and materials, or enhancing data safety by applying the laws of quantum physics. IBM has built the first universal quantum computer and Seidenberg students got the chance learn how it works!

We then learned about how Watson and its artificial intelligence capabilities were developed, including the various ways Watson technology has been applied, from developing treatment plans for oncology patients to creating satiable recipes independently, and even how it was able to beat the two greatest Jeopardy! champs in existence in a televised tournament. This fascinated Computer Science major Jeana Cosenza, who was deeply interested in the functionality of Watson.

However, “functional” doesn’t even begin to describe the capabilities of IBM’s artificial intelligence system. In fact, the Watson system could very well change the way we learn, reason, innovate, and even conduct business… which should remind you of something else that will change the world as it continues to expand its ‘cognitive space’ and apply its knowledge to more areas. That ‘thing,’ of course, is a Pace student!

The very purpose of embarking on a trip to the ThinkLab was to introduce students to IBM’s groundbreaking research and, most importantly, to inspire students to be creative problem solvers. In seeing how researchers at the ThinkLab apply technology to solve myriad problems across various domains, students who went on the trip were able to gain a new perspective on the power of technology.

Saima Khot, a graduate student in Telecommunications Systems and Networks, said she learned a lot from the trip because she entered this experience knowing nothing about IBM’s research. But even those who were familiar with IBM research, namely Information Technology major Adriana Aluia who will intern with IBM in Austin, TX, this coming summer, were able to take away some knowledge and inspiration. And that’s exactly what Seidenberg’s out-of-classroom experiences are all about, whatever they may be!

On behalf of the trips’ co-sponsors, the Seidenberg Tech Collective and Women in Technology @ Pace, and the entire Seidenberg School of CSIS, we would like to extend our biggest thanks to IBM’s Jay Murdoch for giving a fabulous and informational presentation and warm welcome, and to Stephan Barabasi for making our visit possible. Visiting the ThinkLab and viewing all the amazing projects was a fun, educational, and inspiring experience for all.

Thanks to Kaitlyn Houlihan for this fantastic piece!