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!

Seidenberg’s Richard Kline appointed as Faculty Fellow

“The Office of the Provost is pleased to announce the NYC Faculty Fellow appointments of Professor Richard Kline, for the 2015-2016 Academic Year, and Professor Andriy Danylenko for the 2016-2017 Academic Year. These appointments became available as Dr. Brian Evans from the School of Education completed his term. Professor Evans has been a valuable team member in helping establish a plan to increase enrollment for Summer 2015 and Brian is the Coordinator of the Pace Path, overseeing the program’s formal implementation.

Dr. Richard KlineDr. Richard “Rick” Kline is an Associate Professor of computer science and program chairperson for Software Engineering in the Seidenberg School of Computer Science & Information Systems. He served as an associate dean of Seidenberg from 2009 to 2011.

Dr. Kline’s research and service activities are focused on increasing interest in STEM learning among K-12 students. For the past ten years, he has been a team member of the Seidenberg Scholars Summer Experience program for high school students. He was a faculty advisor, alongside outgoing Faculty Fellow Brian Evans, in the Verizon-funded Pace STEM Collaboratory in 2012-13. Dr. Kline has served as director of the Hudson Valley FIRST Tech Challenge robotics program, which has reached more than 2,000 students in grades 7-12 since 2009. He has taught more than 400 students in the civic engagement course, Problem Solving Using LEGO Robotics. He was awarded the Jefferson Award for Public Service Bronze Medal in 2012.

Dr. Andriy Danylenko

Dr. Andriy Danylenko is a Professor of Russian and Slavic linguistics in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures in Dyson College of Arts and Sciences.

He is the editor and author of several books on Slavic linguistics and philology as well as dozens of studies on a wide array of topics ranging from Indo-European to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to standard Ukrainian. Among his books are Slavica et Islamica: Ukrainian in Context (Munich, 2006) on aspects of East Slavic and Ukrainian philology, and most recently, Grammaticalization and Lexicalization in Slavic languages (Munich, Berlin, Washington, DC: Otto Sagner; in co-editorship). Dr. Danylenko has been a recipient of several prestigious fellowships, including Fulbright (Harvard University, 1997; Warsaw University, Poland, 2016), Eugene and Daymel Shklar (Harvard University, 2008), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Hokkaido University, 2013). He is an editorial board member of several journals, a reviewer for numerous scholarly publications and programs in North America, Europe, and Japan.

Professors Kline and Danylenko will help facilitate the implementation of several projects aimed at enhancing the academic excellence of Pace University. These projects will involve exploring ideas to further the Pace campus mission foci of teaching, learning, research, scholarship, and civic engagement. Pace Faculty Fellows bring an important faculty perspective to the University-wide planning and implementation process, and we look forward to their partnership.”

This message was originally published in a note to the Pace Community from Uday Sukhatme, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at Pace University. 

A Chat with Seidenberg CS ’13 Alum, Keith McPherson

In keeping in touch with Seidenberg alumni, we’re able to keep track of the success they reap from their Seidenberg education. Now we’d like to share this information with you, to better prepare you for life before, during, and after your Seidenberg Experience. Today we’re sharing with you what we’ve learned from Computer Science alum of ’13, Keith McPherson.

McPherson with Dr. Kline

Keith explained to us that he never decided to study computer sciences but, instead, was called to the degree through his own passions and interests in computing. The same happened in his choice to come to Pace University. He was accepted into 08‘s Seidenberg Summer Scholars Experience and then knew he would study at no place other than Pace after his participation in the program.

Looking back on his experience at Pace, McPherson said, “I don’t believe I could’ve gone to school anywhere else and had a comparable experience. Seidenberg isn’t a school; it’s a family. The people I met and opportunities I had were all amazing and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.”

McPherson now works at a large EMR (Electronic Medical Record) software company that he describes as a “market leader in providing an integrated system to large hospitals.” When we asked if he was able to integrate his knowledge from Seidenberg into his job, he replied, “The fundamentals of CS are something I use everyday, but the languages, frameworks and projects I work on were never even discussed. This is mostly because I work in a very specialized industry with very specialized technology. I had 6 months of training before I was allowed to start actually working on their software.”

Some of the software McPherson works on and owns is used by more than half the doctors in the country. While McPherson is excited that he is helping the medical world, the only downside is that he is occasionally required to write in archaic languages like MUMPS.

Remembering his time at Seidenberg, McPherson gives a nod to Prof. Benjamin, whose classes he enjoyed, and Dr. Kline, with whom he volunteered for FIRST and worked on many research projects. He also recommends the class on Compilers, which he explains verbatim, “turned me into a man.”

McPherson left  his own advice for today’s students of Seidenberg: “You’ve been told this a million times, but get good grades and work on side projects. Every offer I had upon graduating required a good GPA and the awesome projects I had done made me stand out against other applicants. When you’re out of school and in the real world you’ll never say, ‘man I wish I would’ve sat in my dorm playing League of Legends more…’ you’ll say, ‘I wish I would’ve gone to class more.'”