Nexus Maximus: a Wrap-up of the 2018 Conference

In September 2018, students from Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems presented innovative solutions to problems at Nexus Maximus. In order to showcase their hard work properly, we reached out to some of the students who attended the conference in order to hear about their experiences first-hand.

Nexus Maximus, created by Jefferson (Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University), is a conference which gives undergraduate and graduate students a platform to present innovative projects each year. The 2018 conference opened the minds of students to explore many topics, including improving health care access, designing healthy communities, developing new policies and business models to deliver sustainable value to the community, and building community diversity. According to Jefferson, students had the opportunity to “evaluate and seek innovation that supports the health and well-being of specific local community populations.”

Of the Computer Science, Information Systems, and Information

Technology students who attended the conference—Chinmay Joshi, Ronak Pansara, Ezana Ceman, Joseph Goggin, Kyle Hanson, Naglis Bukauskas, William Bender, Christopher Cherestal, and Laina Posner—two students got in touch with us to discuss their experiences. They outlined what they experienced and highlighted the best portions of the weekend-long experience.

Ezana Ceman, a junior undergraduate student majoring in Information Systems and a New York City Design Factory (NYCDF) Product Innovation Project (PiP) Member, spoke with me about the 2018 conference. She called the event a “fun and innovative experience” and described it as “a unique 3-day team challenge that allows you to step out of your comfort zone and use your talents to create an amazing concept.”

Some of the concepts worked on included strategies to battle food insecurity, homelessness, and much more. While the projects themselves shined a light on the groups’ innovative minds, Ezana explains that recognition wasn’t the highlight.

The best part of the conference is the community participation itself, according to Ezana: “you get to meet students from all around the world and work together to make society a better place.”

Nexus Maximus assists students by giving them the opportunity to learn how to develop and present projects, but the inspiration comes from the students themselves. The willingness to create innovative solutions to communities problems showcases the determination that these students have to create a better world.

Ronak Pansara, a graduate student who will complete his master’s degree in Information Systems in May 2019, also spoke about his experience at Nexus Maximus and the project that his team presented.

Ronak’s team helped people seeking help on NYC streets by giving them detailed and professional signs. He explained that his team’s “project “Signs of Trust” is all about helping homeless people in a unique manner.”

He says further, “This project was inspired by problems arising in many areas. [Their team found that] homeless people were either ignored or people would not trust them as they might not use [the] money for [a] good cause. So that’s why we came up with a unique solution for bridging the gap of honesty and trust.”

“My experience at Nexus Maximus was stupendous,” he states. “It not only helped me building my interpersonal skills, it also helped me in learning new things on how to work with people who were from different [countries].”

Ronak noted that the best part of his overall experience was “how [they] identified [their] individual strengths and weaknesses and how [they] utilized each other by working together in the project.”

“Though we didn’t win any awards, we did get one [non-governmental organization] (NGO) [which] supported our cause for homeless people,” Ronak states. The recognition in itself was a win for the team.

Another team, which included Chinmay Joshi and others, did get recognized with the “Maxime Innovation” award from the conference for maximum innovation. The team worked on a project, titled “Fresh Express”, that tackled how to better deal with food insecurity and waste within the Philadelphia area.

Overall, all of the students experienced growth and success at Nexus Maximus. Both Ronak and Ezana recommend this opportunity to other students. If you’re interested in attending in September 2019, grab some classmates and get to work on the next innovative idea!

Students develop real-world social innovation solutions with Design Factory Social IoT Workshop

On November 30, 2018, the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems held a daylong Social IoT Workshop on the New York City campus.

The workshop, which came with the slogan “innovation development in four hours,” held a contest in which participants worked to develop a fully thought-out product to pitch in just four hours.

The focus was on fixing problems with socially innovative approaches. Students were placed into groups. There were a total of five teams for the workshop. Groups were tasked with coming up with the stigmas and problems associated with five different categories: zero hunger, well-being and security, energy and well-being, mental health, and quality education.

While the design thinking process usually involves five steps: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test, time and budget dictated that this session only used the steps from define to prototype.

Each session during the four-hour workshop lasted from 45-60 minutes. The first session started off with introductions, so each group got to get to know one another first. As a Design Factory event, participants in the workshop hailed from all around the world: alongside our own NYC Design Factory students, we had the company of many participants from Design Factory Korea (DFK), Aalto Design Factory in Finland, DF Javeriana Bogota in Columbia, and Fusion Point in Barcelona. With so many cultures and communication styles together, one thing became clear: working together would be key!

Most groups began the process with a natural instinct involving lots of sticky notes and brainstorming. When it came to deciding team names, one member quipped with humor, “that may be the hardest part.”

 

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Once the first session ended, groups presented their finalized idea to a panel of judges. Upon reviewing their ideas with the panels and receiving constructive criticism and praise, the groups had the opportunity to update their designs and plans in the next session.

The last sessions included making presentation plans and prototypes. Each group made either crafted or sketched out prototypes, presentations, and idea explanations for the panelists. Once their pitches and prototypes were finalized, the groups were ready to present to everyone!

The five groups presented radically innovative ideas for each social problem they were assigned. Among these ideas was Ami, a “lifelong smart companion that analyzes and interacts with its user as an emotional support friend.” Another included a heated blanket that monitors body temperature. After each presentation finished, the judges grouped together to determine the winners.

The panelists decided on two winners this workshop, instead of just one. Team “Guardians of Data,” who worked on creating an anonymous platform for patients and physicians, and the team that worked on a malnutrition detection machine were declared the overall winners. Congrats, teams!

After the workshop, I talked with Kinnari Jasoliya about her experience being on a winning team. Kinnari, an MS in Computer Science major, said: “It was a good experience, and we had a lot of brainstorming, which really kicked in for us to think of new ideas and also to collaborate with people from different countries as well. We get experience to work with diverse people. We went from start to end for a certain product, so it’s a really good experience to know how a product shapes from a basic idea to a full-grown product.”

Student Zachary Demeglio, a freshman Information Technology major on the Pleasantville campus, also explained what he enjoyed about the Social IoT workshop.

“It was a nice experience being able to work with people around the world that have different ideas, come from different parts, [and] have different experiences that they have had personally, compared to what I have been experiencing here,” said Zachary. “[When] collaborating these ideas, it is actually really cool to see what we can come up with together as a team. I would definitely recommend it for somebody else to do, and I’m going to do it next year as well.”

We can’t wait to host the Social IoT workshop next year, either! Our huge thanks go to Design Factory Korea for working with us to make it happen, and for those of you interested in taking part in this unique experience in Fall 2019.

Follow us on social media for updates!

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 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

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.