About.com’s Matthew Knell Gives Seidenberg His Executive Advice

About.com‘s Social Media Executive and Pace alumnus (BS/IS ’00) Matthew Knell stopped by last week to explain a thing or two about his work experiences. He has been employed at a number of positions at a number of companies, including JetBlue,  AOL, and About.com. If you recall the blog post from June, Knell was also the moderator for the AOL Social Media Salon. The students who stayed at Seidenberg last Tuesday for the free food ended up staying for the free advice Knell dished out. Not only was he highly informative about Social Media, but he covered a multitude of topics within the world of computing.

To begin with Knell’s forte, Social Media (hereby shortened to SM), a few things he was adamant about. In SM, Branding, or Website appearance, Knell stressed the importance of choosing the right font and having consistent graphics. Specifically, he said to avoid Arial and Verdana (and everyone knows that Comic Sans is the butt of all font-related jokes) and suggested trying out different fonts from Type Kit. As far as consistent graphics go, Knell used the example of the slide show banner that many websites use on their home pages; he explained that it’s visually enticing when the changing graphics have an underlying similarity to them whether it be color schemes, text placement, font, or all three.

For the students who aren’t as concerned with SM, and cared more about the programming and software related positions Knell had experienced, Knell had a few things to say. One student expressed his concern in starting a project, but having it become invalid before it is complete. He asked how Knell would deal with such a sense of failure, to which Knell’s simple reply was, “Drink.”

Everyone got a laugh out of his response before he elaborated with an anecdote. He told the group of a project he had been working on at JetBlue that had failed miserably. The airline had been trying to create it’s own reservation system, but once they were deep into the process, they realized it was necessary to use the system Sabre, which was less restrictive than an exclusive system. Knell’s advice to dealing with the failure was to learn from it and notice the signs before things go sour, and later, when a recruiter asks about it, let it be known where the faults were and they were not your own mishaps.

Everyone thanked Knell for dropping by and giving us his advice. He even looked over Seidenberg’s SM sites to give them a quick review and offered a few constructive points. We have already began implementing them into our posts! So, thank you, Matthew. It was a pleasure having you around and we hope to collaborate on similar events throughout the years.

Two STEM Camp Participants Talk About Their Experience

With this week being the third leg of 2013’s STEM Camp, we decided to ask a few students to share their thoughts about the experience so far. Below, we have answers from Jad Seligman and Deaja Clarke, both of whom are rising juniors in high schools around NYC.

Jad Seligman (left) shows off a drawing.


What brought you to STEM camp?

Jad: I was interested in STEM camp because I have a love for programming but I also really enjoy math and science as well.
Deaja: My Aunt told me about the camp and she said that it was about science and technology, which interested me. I was also interested in how technology was incorporated into science.

Deaja Clarke prepares to extract DNA from a banana.

What are some things you have learned from your time at STEM camp?

Jad: Since being at STEM camp, I have learned how to make a mobile app and how to make a website. I have also learned more about object-oriented programming.
Deaja: I have learned about the basics of coding, which I never knew before.

What has been your favorite part of STEM camp?

Jad: My favorite part of camp so far has been the people- the students and the mentors. The students are very smart and they exude intelligence and good spirit. The mentors are incredibly helpful as well.
Deaja: I like the people and the overall experience.

Would you consider pursuing  a major in the STEM field during college?

Jad: Absolutely! Ideally, I would like to major in computer science.
Deaja: I am interested mostly in science, but I plan to study a little bit of technology too and incorporate it into science.

What do you want to do in the future? 

Jad: I would like to have a career in cyber security.

Deaja: I want to be a doctor who incorporates technology into the medical field. I know I want to help people and using technology is very beneficial for doctors.


From their responses, it seems that the camp has been right down their ally; Jad and Deaja, as well as the other campers who share their enthusiasm, will indubitably walk away from this experience with a new foundation of knowledge to build upon in their higher education.


Summer STEM Camp 2013

What has Seidenberg HQ been up to lately?

We have been busy with STEM! A distinguished group of 20 talented New York high school students have been invited to participate in a 3 week long STEM camp experience. Much like what we did with this year’s Summer Scholars Experience, this educational camp aims to raise awareness about the importance of STEM in addition to exposing the students to the many opportunities that STEM has to offer. As the camp kicked off, our bright participants were placed in teams of 4 and asked to come up with a concept for a STEM related mobile app and website.

 A Day in the Life of a STEM Camp Participant

Each day the camp is filled with excitement and adventure. Students not only learn about coding and Photoshop but they are exposed to a wealth of knowledge from experienced guest speakers and dedicated mentors, including Pavel Kibrik, who talked about the importance of sleep, and Pace professor Samuel Baruch, who discussed his experiences at Columbia where he earned his degree in Math. Our bright campers also get a cultural thrill when visiting different top tech companies, startups, and tourist attractions around NYC. So far, our campers have attended the UNIFCEF CUNY design challenge where they had the chance to learn how students are using STEM to improve the quality of life of the less fortunate. Our campers also visited the NY Hall of Science and the Highline Park. Our bright STEM participants visited Codeacademy, Eye Beam, and Alley Tech NYC to see how awesome it is to work at startups.

 What’s in Store?

With one more week to go, the campers have to finish their STEM mobile apps and their accompanying websites. Each group will then present their work to an esteemed panel of judges. We are excited to see the success of our talented STEM campers!

#SSSE2013: If You’re Wondering When It Will Be the Right Time to Start Programming…

…that time is now. The youngsters are catching up to the Zuckerbergs and Gates’ of their elder generations and they will leave stragglers in their dust. This week, Seidenberg hosted a camp for high-acheiving students who are interested in programming. The goal of the program was to assist these high schoolers in creating their own computing projects from scratch and giving them a chance to work as a team to present their completed project, in this case a mobile app, to a panel of experts and professors in hopes to prepare them for a time when they will professionally create apps on their own. The genre of this year’s mobile apps was our favorite subject, STEM. Each group (4-5 students and 2 mentors) was required to program an app that would aid other individuals of whatever age group they chose to learn about STEM related topics. These included games, questionnaires, flash-card based apps, and new ways to allow people to actively participate in learning about STEM.

The Summer Scholars were kept busy in hackathon sessions, led by our friends Andrew Clutterbuck and Peter Tapio from Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland, and a few of our top professors, including Dr. Richard Kline and Dr. Christelle Scharff.  Dr. Kline is, as we know, heavily invested in robotics yet also an expert in teaching usability. On top of this, Dr. Scharff added her knowledge of mobile programming to the lectures provided for the scholars. However, the scholars were also given the chance to explore the ins and outs of NYC. They came from all over the USA and many had not seen the city before in their lives. The scholars visited the usual spots: the American Museum of Natural History, Times Square, Seaport, Central Park, and China Town. Along with the tourist hits, students also got exclusive visits to startup companies and larger corporations; these included Codecademy, StreetEasy, AppFigures, Microsoft, and the crowd favorite: Google. The students were able to ask questions about programming and the computing field as it’s been growing and what it will become when this new generation of programmers hits the ground running. Each company was welcoming and informational; the students left each place with a burst of inspiration that they  were able to incorporate into their projects.

The final presentations were exceptional; the students proved that they had an excellent foundation for an app as well as a foundation in computing for any other apps they may come up with in their future. Leaving the camp after only a week was a bitter end, but well worth it. Students reached out to each other on their own social media, intending to keep in touch long after the camp has passed. Other comments from the students after the session ended included, “Who’s gonna have Post Trip Depression?” from Californian scholar, Ruiqi Mao, and a from a few others, confirmation that Pace is their choice school (whoop whoop!) after going through this program.

The Women Have Taken Over Seidenberg HQ!

The three-day event, Write/Speak/Code has filled Seidenberg’s HQ with women eager to learn more and improve their skills in writing, speaking, and coding. Each day of the event focuses on one of the topics and after the three days, the participants should have a deepened understanding as well as an augmented skill and comfort level in each category.

Participants work together on projects during the Write/Speak/Code event.

The speakers for the event range from software engineers to presentation experts, data-analysts to user-experience strategists, and philanthropists to freelance developers. Each speaker has offered expert advice especially curated for this audience. The attendees focused on writing on the first day, Thursday, June 20th. Speakers introduced tactics used for writing Op-Ed pieces and forming an audible voice through text.
For Friday’s session on ‘Speak,’ I sat in for a bit, and within 10 minutes I learned some basic techniques that improve public speaking. An organizer of the event as well as a Ruby and Javascript developer, Rebecca Miller- Webster spoke of the importance of hand gestures when speaking to an audience. She demonstrated how holding your words in your hands is effective in getting the message to listeners. If one is speaking on a small topic, hands should carry an imaginary tennis-ball sized object, but if the topic has more weight and importance, the speaker should increase their gestures to the likes of holding a basketball in their hands (as demonstrated by the drawing below). Miller-Webster pointed out that famous speakers, namely President Obama, often execute this exact practice.

The size of your hand gestures should reflect the importance of your topic.

On day three, the women learned important coding techniques that they could then apply to their own projects.

Participants actively engaged with the speakers and one another to increase productivity, efficiency, and creativity not only in their personal initiatives but also within the feminist movement. To have a large group of women supporting each other in their path through the conceivably male-dominated world of computing is hugely effective and it is clear that the event has been a success in that area.

For more of the live feed on twitter, take a look at @writespeakcode

This Weekend’s STEM Conference at Pace Featured Exceptional Guests to Discuss Technology’s Role in Education

We just had an eventful and exciting weekend here at Seidenberg! The much anticipated two-day STEM conference has now come and gone, but in its wake remains many new things to discuss, mobile apps to use, plants to tend to, and ZOOBs to play with.

Pictures from the STEM Conference
Pictured clockwise from top, Douglas Rushkoff speaks to the attendees about technology and education; Seidenberg students run final checks on their mobile apps before presenting them to the crowd; Rushkoff and Jonathan Hill have a discussion during Friday’s luncheon; Teachers, professors, and other attendees enjoy food and drinks at Friday’s rooftop mixer.

The two-day event consisted of a VIP luncheon, an evening mixer, and a collaboratory conference. The main topics discussed included technology’s role in educational settings, the importance of approaching technology critically, and how computing should be interdisciplinary but also stand as a full, separate subject.

Our keynote speaker was PhD Media Theorist, Author, and Codecademy’s Evangelist, Douglas Rushkoff. Well-spoken, energetic, and clearly passionate about the day’s topic, Rushkoff had a lot to say about the relationship between technology and education from its past to its trajectory. A main point in his discussion was how programming should be approached as literacy. Students should be as well-rounded in computing as they are expected to be in other subjects. As he mentions in his book Program or Be Programmed, it is not okay to be a mere passenger in the technological world; students should be focused on learning less about basic skills in user-oriented program packages, such as Microsoft Office, and more about the programming skills that give us those packages in the first place. Rushkoff stated that he prefers to approach computing as a liberal art and a science–a type of engineering that he likened to cooking. Cooking is hugely scientific. The chemistry of the elements and how they blend is essential to the task yet cooking can be creative and artful and requires the capacity to multitask as well.

Rushkoff is also a big advocate for experiential education, as described by a mantra, “see one, do one, teach one,” which is part of Codecademy’s teaching process.

When Rushkoff asked the audience for feedback, many of the teachers in the crowd (not all of whom come from a computing or STEM subject) agreed with his stance on the matter. The questions that arose were those of what to do next. One teacher asked how to find a suitable entry point when teaching computing, to which Rushkoff responded that questioning, comparison, and critique are the first steps of learning. To begin, students must approach programming as a liberal art, then they may delve deeper into technical learning.

With that much said, Rushkoff bid the conference farewell and Michael Joaquin Grey, an artist and inventor, stepped up to show everyone his invention: ZOOBs. Disguised as a toy for kids, like Legos or Tinkertoys, ZOOBs are building blocks for all kinds of structures. The unique thing about them is that they are modeled after anatomical and naturally occurring joints and connectors, so the structures that form are mobile and can be close to actual anatomies. Grey presented to the audience a model of a DNA helix that was flexible. From that model, one could see how the DNA can wrap up into different shapes, as it does in living cells. There are five different pieces, which are five different colors, just as there are five vowels, five fingers, five base pairs, five joints. ‘ZOOB’ itself is an acronym for Zoology, Ontology, Ontogeny, and Botany. Grey is now working on projects related to sensory integration issues and computational cinema.

After everyone got their share of playtime with the all-too-addictive ZOOBs, students, professors, and teachers who have been working on their own mobile apps presented their respective programs to the rest of the group. Each app was one geared towards educating and could eventually be used in a classroom setting. The apps, created from scratch, ranged from chemistry rummy to an app for measurements in biology to an app that hosts a virtual patient.

To open back up to the topic of the day, there was a panel discussion that continued off of Douglas Rushkoff’s conversation. The panel featured Steve Ettlinger, author of Twinkie, Deconstructed, Brian Evans and Tom Lynch, both of whom are professors in the School of Education here at Pace, Lou Lahana, a teacher at The Island School, and PhD Meghan Groome, the Executive Director of Education & Public Programs at New York Academy of Science. The moderator was Ben Esner, Director of K-12 STEM Education at Polytechnic Institute at New York University. The discussion flowed through the vision for STEM Education, to techniques and examples in curricula, to publicizing it all to generate a larger discussion across the globe. Audience members were also able to add their two-cents when the time came. One teacher in particular expressed her views that teachers in Pace as well as teachers in any other institute should be able to access curated advice on technology, since no one will have to time to keep up with technology as new devices appear while obtaining the necessary skill levels to teach with each new device. Instead, this teacher hoped that a forum would open up either online or in the form of an association that will produce reputable advice on which technologies are the best in a classroom environment and when it is necessary to update.

Pictures from the STEM Conference
Pictured clockwise from top, Michael Joaquin Grey lays out his ZOOB structures before talking about their conception; Attendees tune in to Grey as he explains ZOOBs; Boswyck Farms displays different devices for Hydroponic farming; Jonathan Hill introduces the students and teachers who have all created mobile apps to share.