Agile Explained

As mentioned in the previous blog post, Pace will be hosting Agile NYC for their 5th annual Agile Day, happening on the 18th. For most who have not been introduced to or worked with agile methodologies, the concept of the agile approach can seem a bit abstract, and  abstraction might be intimidating at first, but agile is something you’ll want to understand concretely before looking for work. 

Agile NYC Pace UniversityAgile NYC’s coordinator Joe Krebs, in answering a few of our questions about agile, mentioned that a company using the agile approach will expect its employees to be familiar with the methodologies before they are hired. So how does a student go from zero experience in agile to pro upon job-interview? (Actual representation of becoming an agile pro depicted below).

Well, you won’t have to be pro, but having some experience with agile will be necessary in your field. Luckily for most of you, gaining experience isn’t too hard around here, since Pace is one of Agile NYC’s closer partners. Agile NYC’s events are often in and around the university, like Agile Day on the 18th, and participating in these events will get you up to speed. Then, if you still want more practice, you can gain hands on experience by joining teams like Seidenberg Creative Labs, who will use the agile approach in their projects, or taking certain classes — an example of which being Dr. Scharff’s mobile software engineering class, CS 389 — that implement agile techniques on classroom projects. Having a rich understanding of agile will really give you the edge you need when employers compare you to you your competition.

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Agile, in the simplest terms, is a product development methodology, specifically for programmers. Many careers in programming lead to projects where someone (or a company) will consult a team of programmers to build what they need. While the programmers do their thing and the ‘bosses’ do their own, often times problems arise from start to finish. The agile method of working through a project helps avoid a lot of these problems or provides simplified methods of solving said issues as they arise — and they will arise.

From its official conception in 2001, when the Agile Manifesto was created, agile’s values are described as,

“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
Working software over comprehensive documentation.
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
Responding to change over following a plan.
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more,” (agilemanifesto.org).

This set of rules directly opposes the more traditional methodology known as the Waterfall method. Agile emphasizes the importance of personable teamwork that moves forward as a cohesive effort, rather than a group of separated workers working towards a common goal. To do this successfully, agile encourages daily meetings for teams to discuss issues before or as they arise rather than after. Not only are daily meetings valuable for avoiding issues, they also stimulate creativity and brainstorming between team members. More often than not, these meetings take on an informal tone and promote a sort of playfulness to offset stress or idea blockage.

Now that you’re on your way to becoming an agile pro, instead of wandering around next Thursday’s event, spending all your time learning what the heck agile is in the first place, you can now focus on the real meat of Agile day and feast on its workshops and networking opportunities.

 

Remember, Remember, 5 Things for September

In just 5 days the Fall semester here at Pace will begin (as surely you have all realized by now. We hope). As usual, we don’t hesitate to get the motors running with the semester’s start. For example, here are 5 big things already happening in September that we think will fuel your engines for Fall 2014. 

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1. September 13th – Write/Speak/Code

Our friends at Write/Speak/Code will be hosting a free, full-day, intensive developer’s workshop for women. The workshop will offer a chance for women to work in tandem to learn, practice, or improve upon their skills in software development. Not only will women be able to level-up their expertise, but the workshop is a great way to network with other developers in the field. Registration is open now, and the event includes breakfast and lunch, if you weren’t already convinced.

2. September 10th & 17th – Student Panel

Assuming this year is like any other, a great many of you are possibly in the midst of a stressful, agonizing job search. If you’re tired of being inexperienced (or just plain broke), Seidenberg will be hosting two student panels focusing on how panelists found their summer’s jobs or internships. The two days will be split between undergrad (17th) and graduate (10th) panelists. For information on the dates, keep up with Seidenberg’s Twitter or Facebook feed, where we’ll be announcing information as we receive it and posting reminders for your convenience. 

3. September 18th – AgileDay NYC

The 5th annual Agile Day will once again be happening here at Pace University. The event consists of talks from various Agile front runners, with topics such as ‘Innovation in a Rapidly Changing World,’ and ‘Developing Product Developers and Product Ownership.’ Once the talks finish, the entire Student Union will open up to host workshops and activities to promote Agile ideologies and networking within the expected crowd of 350+ agile professionals. Registration is ongoing and filling up fast, so take a look at reserving a spot. Or, as admission can be pricey on a student’s budget, we are offering a number of volunteer spots. Volunteers will be able to attend the event for free; those interested in volunteering should email Wilfredo Pena at wpena@pace.edu.

4. September 25th – UX Agency Launch

Seidenberg students Stas Vaisman and Adil Hasan are building up a UX agency that will be launching this fall. Their goal is to gather a team of students from a multitude of disciplines (Hey, Dyson! Hey, Lubin!) who will ultimately work with Seidenberg Creative Labs to enhance UX on various platforms. UX – User Experience – is rapidly emerging as a career field, focusing on all aspects surrounding product development (especially in start ups). The agency, also known as Schooled, has connections to a university in Germany, offering students who join a chance to build their own international network while gaining real-world experience. On the 25th at 6pm (Bianco Room, One Pace Plaza), Vaisman and Hasan will be fully explaining their initiative to anyone interested in joining. No reservations are required and free pizza will be served as bait!

5. September 20-21st – DroidCon 2014

DroidCon2014For all you Android enthusiasts, DroidCon is definitely going to be worth your while. This event will be the “world’s biggest, community-driven, Android developer conference,” according to the DroidCon home page. As an international conference, you’ll have a chance to learn about Android advances from the farthest corners of the world. DroidCon has also officially announced its top-10 speakers for the event, boasting an impressive host of professionals in the Android community. Registration for the conference lasts until the 19th. Tickets start at 100$, but of course we have your backs with free volunteer positions at the event. Those interested in attending DroidCon for free as a volunteer should email Dr. Christelle Scharff at cscharff@pace.edu.

 

 

Most Doors in Life Seem Closed…

…So, If You Want Them to Open, You Need a Cool Knock.
By Suhail Bhandari

As an international student at Pace University, I’m always amazed by what can be achieved by simply knocking on someone’s door. I recently tried the theme from Mission Impossible, and by the time I was done knocking, I’d made friends with the CEO of a very successful startup, a Google developer, and two very famous Glass explorers. All this whilst at my very own Google Glass workshop.

It all began in my third week at school, when I met two very important people.

The first, was a gentleman named Freddy. It was as though Waldo had come alive and was every bit as interesting and worldly-wise as you’d hoped he’d be, with all his travels! (See if you can spot him in the picture below.)

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We’d often delve into interesting discussions regarding the future of wearable-tech or how to build digital communities. Sometimes we’d even debate the hard stuff like, ‘why is everyone obsessed with Candy Crush?’ or ‘what the heck do I do with all my NikeFuel points?!’ It was fantastic to have someone on campus who I could go to whenever I needed meaningful advice, or just wanted to share an idea… So, you can imagine my shock when I found out, a month later, that my friend “Freddy” was actually Professor Wilfredo Pena, who taught an Information Systems class! Yet, and as odd as it sounds, we’re still best buds and it was his little push that gave me the confidence to organize my own Google Glass Workshop – “Instead of just talking about them all day, go to Dr. Scharff, ask her if you can borrow her glasses for a day and invite a few students over!”

Was it just that simple?

Students who tried on Glass at the event. Click-through for full-sized images
Students who tried on Glass at the event. Click-through for full-sized images

Then I met Dr. Christelle Scharff, Chair for the Computer Science department at Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science. I would imagine during my first visit to her office I looked every bit as thrilled as Charlie did, when he first walked into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. She had Google Glasses, access to 3-D printers, a Raspberry Pi and the latest active gear smart watch! There was even an oompa loompa in the corner – “This Android bot is a trophy for my students, if they do well in today’s class.” She gave me a patient listen, even though I was all over the place with my ideas, and within minutes she offered to not only to speak at the workshop but she would allow any student who wanted to try on the $1,500 Glass a chance to do so.

The next day, far more confident about my idea, and egged on by Freddy and Dr. Scharff, I sat down with Glass, and dictated an e-mail. “Ok Glass, send this out to…” I reached out to a popular agency that had been working with Glass for a few months now. 48 hours later, they replied, “It’s high time kids started doing more stuff like this! See you there!” Time to go bigger! A few days later – and what are the odds of this happening – I bumped into Steve Motino, a Pace Student/Google developer/Glass Explorer at a Pace University job fair! 15 minutes later, he was onboard as well and even offered to talk about a few apps he was working on. Even bigger! We reached out to city event guides and Explorer clubs! And finally, with some deft social media management by a fellow student, we reached out to everyone at Pace!

Walter White Harry Potter Jonathan Hill Pace News
We not only had the Seidenberg’s associate dean don a promotional pair, but Harry Potter and Walter White too! 

That evening, my small workshop idea transformed into an entire 3 hour event with over 50 attendees! We had students from Pace as well as other universities, developers, working professionals, 5 guest speakers and 7 Google Glass Explorers!…And it all began with a cool knock.

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More pictures from the event can be found on Seidenberg’s Facebook. If you tried on a pair of Glasses at the event, find your picture and tag yourself!

 

Asif Khan to Discuss Mobile Health Initiatives

Asif Khan, from the UN Foundation (UNF), will be making an appearance at Seidenberg on March 27th to introduce the UNF and Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) to anyone interested in learning about the ways in which mobile apps can help solve age-old issues around the world.

“The UNF links the UN’s work with others around the world, mobilizing the energy and expertise of business and non-governmental organizations to help the UN tackle issues including climate change, global health, peace and security, women’s empowerment, poverty eradication, energy access, and US-UN relations.”

Asif, who has been with the UNF since 2011, currently works with the Director of Global Partnerships, based in New York, on sustaining and building corporate and NGO partnerships for the UN Foundation. His previous role was as the Global Coordinator for MAMA, where he oversaw communication, coordination, finances and outreach for MAMA Global in Washington as well as MAMA’s three country programs in Bangladesh, South Africa and India.

Through the MAMA Global Learning program, a team creates tools and resources to strengthen new and existing mobile health programs that provide trusted information to mothers. MAMA has developed free, adaptable messages informed by experts in maternal, newborn, and child health. These evidence-based, culturally sensitive mobile messages are currently in use by 300 organizations in 70 countries around the world.

As MAMA is an innovator in mobile health, which is one of Seidenberg’s top initiatives, Asif will be demonstrating how his work with the alliance can involve you, the students (or whomever else may be interested), in the futures of your careers. The event will be on Thursday, April 3rd, 6pm, at 163 William St (Seidenberg HQ).

Seidenberg and AHRC Are Hosting an International Film Festival

As many of you know, one of Seidenberg’s outreach programs works with AHRC of New York City, an organization for helping individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Together, with Pace’s Dean of Students, Dr. Marijo Russell-O’Grady, they will be hosting an International Film Festival in celebration of Individuals with Disabilities in Film.

This is the second annual film festival to be held at Pace for the occasion. According to an official media release for the festival, “the festival focuses on individuals with disabilities expressing dreams and hopes to be contributing members of society like other individuals without disabilities.”

A discussion of the films will be included, featuring distinguished panelists

  • Alice Elliott (Director, Welcome Change Productions)
  • Dr. Marilyn Jaffe-Ruiz (Member, Board of Directors, AHRC New York City)
  • Maria Hodermarska (Parent and Teacher, NYU)
  • Gary Lind (Executive Director, AHRC New York City, Community Engagement Partner with Pace University)
  • Adil Imran Sanai (Self-Advocate)
  • Issac Zablocki (Co-Founder and Director, ReelAbilities: New York Disability Film Festival)
  •  and Dr. Marijo Russel-O’Grady, Dean of Students, who will act as Moderator.

The festival is free and welcomes all members of the public. For seat reservations and RSVPs, you may email Dr. James P. Lawler, Chair of the International Film Festival and Professor of Service-Learning of the Seidenberg School, at lawlerj@aol.com or at 212-346-1013.

The festival will take place Monday, March 31, 2014, from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM in the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, Pace University, 3 Spruce Street, Manhattan, New York City.

First Week Back to School

We are officially into the Fall 2013 semester of class. This post is to recap all the things that are going on around NYC and Pace for you to enjoy before classes get serious.
First off, it’s Broadway Week for anyone interested in seeing some excellent performances. Broadway Week means all shows are doing a 2 for 1 ticket deal, but it only lasts until the end of the week! Seats are disappearing fast, so grab some before they’re gone!

From left to right, Dr. Richard Kline, Dr. Christelle Scharff, Kalevi Ekman, Dean Amar Gupta, Dr. Jonathan Hill, and professor Bryn Haffey all stand together, prepared for Fall 2013.

Quick note on classes that you may have been to that you’re already dreading. Our advice: drop them and substitute another. You have a few weeks to do this without penalty or before you miss too many hours of the class you may switch into. If you don’t like a professor or the syllabus makes the upcoming weeks seem dreary abort the mission. It’s not worth your time and effort to suffer through terrible classes and there are enough options available for you to switch without mussing your schedule. College is meant to be flexible and enjoyable. Some classes you will eventually have suffer through, but at least ease your pain by waiting until a decent professor comes along.

In Seidenberg news, the Finns have struck again. If you haven’t met our partners from Aalto University (including Peter Tapio who was here during the Summer Scholars Experience), they’ve been around for the last few days and leave this evening, unfortunately. They will be back eventually, so catch them while they are around. They are all a wonderful resource available to learn about project development in many fields.

The aforementioned workshop with Kalevi Ekman was a delightful afternoon. Photos from the event and a video that showcases Kalevi’s lessons on design will be available for viewing on Thursday. He himself is another one of our Finnish partners, also a head professor for the PDP (Product Development Project) program that Seidenberg takes part in. This program is an incredible opportunity for students and also gives students involved the chance to visit Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland.

Lastly, don’t forget that Computing Society meets on Wednesdays and there will be free pizza, just so ya’ know.