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.”

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.

Students Dhruv Gandhi and Tejas Chavan to enter UX World Championship

We couldn’t be more proud of two of our amazing students, Dhruvil Gandhi and Tejas Chavan, who are finalists in the UX World Championship taking place in October!

Dhruv Poster
Dhruv’s winning poster

The competition challenged students to develop interactive concepts for future shopping experiences in order to improve the way we shop. Each entrant had to design a poster depicting their ideas, a process which took a lot of hard work and careful consideration.

“It was totally unexpected,” says Dhruv, after receiving the news. “I believe it’s people you have around you that affects your work. Friends, mentors and critiques – I am grateful to everyone.” Dhruv particularly wanted to thank Virali Jhaveri, a recent Seidenberg grad, for her help with the project.

Dhruv, Stacey Sarris, and Tejas

Dhruv and Tejas worked over summer to put together their competition submissions alongside a team of fellow students and alumni, under the guidance of Seidenberg professor Stacey Sarris. Professor Sarris, who coached the students throughout the process, said: “Two students reaching the finals shows that applying hard work and User Experience principles works! I couldn’t be more proud of both Dhruv and Tejas and I can’t wait to how they do in Austria.”

Professor Sarris teaches IS 660S – Interface Design for Web Applications. The class introduces students to the theories of Human-Computer Interaction and Usability and presents methodologies for analyzing and designing user-centered interactive interfaces.

Tejas' poster
Tejas’ poster

Tejas had some inspirational words to share: “If you are really dedicated to something, and if you have a great mentor like Prof. Stacey, then there is the possibility that you will be lost on your way to AWESOMENESS!”

Speaking of awesomeness, here’s what being a finalist means for our two superstars:

  • A ticket to the World Usability Congress 2016
  • A flight to Graz / Austria
  • Accommodation for one week
  • An Experience Tour in Styria

At the UX finals, the students will receive two additional tasks and will have six hours to solve them. The jury, which will be composed of experts from sponsoring partners and WUC speakers, will choose the winner of the UX World Championship.

The winner will be awarded at the World Usability Congress, so stay tuned!

We’re so proud of our students! We’re also pretty proud of the fact that Pace University is the only university to have not one but two students enter the final – some might suggest that says something about our students (that they’re the best).