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.”

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!

Call for high school and college students for 2nd Annual Westchester SMART Mobile App Development Bowl

Registration for the 2nd Annual Westchester SMART Mobile App Development Bowl is underway, and we want you to sign up! Think you can develop a mobile app? Enter our competition and show us what you’ve got!

What do I do?

Compete in a team (two person min) to create a mobile app that will help improve the lives of people aged 65 and above, especially in area where their needs are neglected or underserved. Teams can be affiliated with your high school or college, or you can register as an independent team.

Individuals can sign up and Pace will help place you in a team.

What do I win?

Cash prizes, internships, and a collection of high-tech gear!

sign up

Registration closes February 12, so hurry up!

Pace team takes home the prize at VR Hackathon

Tisch Interactive Telecommunications Program
NYU’s Tisch building where the hackathon was held.

Over the weekend of July 10-12, a team of four Pace students competed against 19 other groups in the NYC Virtual Reality Hackathon, a hackathon that took place as part of the LoNyLa/TimeWave Festival. The Pace team won the Best Wow Factor VR category and brought home a $500 prize!

Pace students and alums Taranjyot Singh Multani (MS CS ’15), Dhruvil Gandhi (MS CS ’16), Avery Leider (PhD CS ’18) and Syed Adil Hasan (MBA Financial MGMT and IS ’16) joined up with Zeev Kirsh, a litigation staff attorney at Paul, Weiss, and Guilherme Pena Costa, a Brazilian programmer who works at McCann Advertising Agency, whom they had met at a Sony sponsored Mega-Meetup the night before the hackathon. The diverse team used their individual skills to dominate in their category during the hackathon – just the kind of interdisciplinary focus we love to see!

The theme of the hackathon focused on “Mythos and Moxie,” an idea derived from the way technology changes constantly and rapidly while storytelling fundamentals have remained the same. The teams were challenged to create a VR platform that transcends technology and opens up users to a more human experience of storytelling, exploring the possibilities of VR technology while doing so.

The team decided to create a kind of virtual island that would incorporate musical features, which users could alter according to their own liking using their movements. The island played four different kinds of music in each corner, and users navigated the island using the Oculus Rift. Depending on how they moved, the music would change in volume, intensity or balance. Users could move around the island to figure out which kind of music they most wanted to hear. The team had originally planned to make movement possible through Dhruvil’s Leap Motion, but faced a big challenge in getting the software and hardware to interact seamlessly. Eventually, they had to cut out the Leap Motion and focus just on using the Oculus Rift and game controllers for movement. Even so, their product was a great success with each of the five judges.

Taran-Avery-Dhruvil-AdilTaran-Adil-Dhruvil

After all the groups showed off their projects, the Pace team received high praise from their category’s judge Chaki Ng, who is also General Manager for Viacom Labs. He stated that the team had successfully captured the essence of the hackathon with their project, and that their project was the most developed and complete out of the presentations that weekend. It turns out that music is a great way to provide an emotionally tangible experience for a user in a virtual environment. The team was delighted to hear this, especially considering the setbacks they had faced during their project. Nevertheless, their story and their content was strong enough to earn them their prize, and we hope they can continue to build on this project in the future to include all the cool features with Leap Motion that they originally wanted to use!

Sponsors for the event included: EEVOFake Love, SonyFreedom 360Leap MotionLittlstarOculusUnity 3D and VISR.

 

D-D-D Defense! (or rather, C-C-D-C Defense!)

The Pace Cybersecurity Team based on the Pleasantville campus started the spring semester by competing in the virtual qualifier for the regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC).

IMG_1351 IMG_1371NECCDC 2015 Nick

Out of the twenty problems our cyber warriors had to address over the eight-hour competition, challenges included things like defending a small business network against a big bad Red team, the configuration of a Palo Alto firewall, implementation of SSH on Linux servers, and an internal vulnerability audit with OpenVAS, to name a few.

NECCDC Team 2015
(L to R): Mayrimar Vega-Vasquez (BS/IT), Joseph Glasser (BS/IT), Kaila Letteri (BS/IT) co-captain, Joseph Jacob (BS/IT), Brian Bounos (BS/CS), Joel Thomas (BS/CS), Nick Terrasi (BS/IT) co-captain, and Patrick Prescott (BS/IS).

Kaila Marie Letteri, a senior Information Technology major reflects on her experience.

“I found out about the Pace Cybersecurity Team in my junior year. I was very interested in getting involved in activities that would prepare me for a career in IT Security since my long-term goal is to work for the FBI or the CIA. I felt this cyber defense competition would be the perfect opportunity to expand my IT Security skills. However, after a few meetings I was intimidated because I did not know a lot, and I felt that the students on the team knew so much more than me. Now, in my senior year, I decided to give the competition one more try. After attending the first few meetings, the team held elections for captain positions. I told myself that this time I would not give up no matter what, and that it was meant to be a learning experience. It soon turned out to be one of the best learning experiences I have had at Pace.

I decided to run for team captain, and I was surprised to find out that I had been chosen to lead the team! We quickly started getting into gear by hosting meetings every Monday and Friday throughout the entire fall semester. We spent 60+ hours preparing the virtual environment for practice, running through different competition scenarios, and getting up to speed. The security-related courses most of us have taken provided a good base for the competition.

The team was a lot of fun this year! We had great chemistry and worked very well together. We were from different majors within Seidenberg, from different years, and with different levels of experience, but we made it work perfectly! I had so much fun spending time with the team and making new friends. We created a lot of great memories and inside jokes that I will remember for many years to come. However, it was not all fun and games because we all worked very hard learning new things and improving our skills. So when we had to get serious and go to work, we did.

I gained quite a bit of technical knowledge by joining this team and I would recommend the competition to any student interested in security. It is a learning process for many so do not get intimidated the way I did at first. You will learn what you need to know along the way. You will also learn how to work as a team and that is a skill an IT professional needs to master!”

The team was supported by the IT Department in Westchester, and was coached by adjunct professors Andreea Cotoranu and John Watkins. Those interested in joining the team next year should get in touch with professor Cotoranu at acotoranu@pace.edu.