Tech Athletes Series: running hot races and cool code

“Neither of us came here just to run,” Ricky Harris (BS in Computer Science ’20) says while teammate Dan Citardi (BS in Computer Science ’18) nods in agreement. “I chose to come to Pace University because of the great academic program and the great internship opportunities.”

That particular choice paid off: Ricky interned at the White House in summer ’17 and has his eye on a number of very cool opportunities for his third summer at Pace. Spending a few months working in Washington DC wasn’t an excuse to slack on his fitness though. Did Ricky run, Captain America style, around the iconic National Mall park? “Every day,” he admits. You’ve got to stay in shape if you want to serve the country well!

While Ricky and Dan may not have come to Pace to run, it still figures greatly into their schedules and has been one of the most enduring memories of their Pace experience. Both cross country racers, these speedy computer scientists spend their weekdays taking capture the flag cybersecurity challenges or coding mobile apps and their weekends competing against other schools to traverse five miles of trails in the quickest time possible.

Many view running as a solitary sport, and it’s difficult to think of how a cross country ‘team’ can compete as a group when only one person can cross the finish line first. How do Ricky and Dan deal with the idea of working so hard as a group yet just one person getting the glory?

“Pace is its own team,” Ricky says.

“If the two of us are running together, we’ll push each other to go faster,” Dan adds. Rather than racing individually with the goal of placing in the top three, Pace runners strategize on how best to use each individual’s strengths and, when they need it, motivate one another to inch a little bit closer to the kind of peak performance that results in great victories. “Plus,” Dan continues, “I hate to say it, but there’s always bragging rights. If someone were to come out and beat me, of course I’m going to be more motivated to beat them the next time – especially if I see them all the time!”

All of that running takes time, though. Between practice, cross training, and the racing itself, there has to be a balance struck between ‘pace’ and ‘university’. How do the students juggle athletics and academics?

“I balance athletics and my studies by setting aside four to five hours a day to either study for a test or work on any assignments that were given to me and due within that week,” says Ricky, indicating that organization is key.

Dan found that athletics had a positive effect on how he approaches schoolwork. “Having some sort of athletic activity helped me balance more effectively than I otherwise would have,” he says. “If I know I have practice or a meet at a certain time, I know that I have to get my work done beforehand because, naturally, I’m always a bit tired after running. Being an athlete also got me out of the habit of procrastinating – which, after four years, I couldn’t be more thankful for!”

While Ricky is about to enter his third year with Pace, Dan has just about wrapped up his degree and is graduating in Spring 2018. What did he like studying the most?

“Going into college I knew I wanted to do something with computers but, to be honest I didn’t really know what,” says Dan. “But after taking all the classes and doing a lot of side projects, I really took a liking to mobile app development. A huge reason behind that was because of Dr. Jean Coppola; she took me under her wing in freshman year.”

Lining up together to set the Pace

Ricky also worked a lot with Jean, and under her guidance the two runners built a mobile app together (with fellow Seidenberg student, Mackenzie Dolishny) called DiscoVeR, a virtual reality app designed to help individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia cope during a period caused by the disease known as the ‘sundowning’. During this time, which is typically in the late afternoon to early evening, the individual can experience confusion and agitation, which may lead to panic and can be difficult for caregivers to deal with.

Through the app, Ricky and Dan aim to help.

“Dr. Coppola gave us the idea of doing something with virtual reality,” Ricky says. Working together, the two came up with an idea of creating an interactive world where users have to complete simple tasks that help take their minds off of the sundowning experience. “It’s a visual effect, a very simple interactive world . . . they can go into a world and – say there’s a gorilla that needs a banana – they use virtual reality to look around for it.”

DiscoVeR netted the team prizes in both the 2017 #WestchesterSMART Mobile App Development Bowl and the Pace Pitch Contest. It would appear that athletics is not the only area in which Dan and Ricky excel! That said, there are plenty of other achievements in the running realm for both students.

Seidenberg Dean Jonathan Hill, Dan, Ricky, and former Westchester County Exec Rob Astorino at the #WestchesterSMART Mobile App Development Bowl
Dan, Mackenzie Dolishny, and Ricky after placing in the Pace Pitch Contest

Dan’s most memorable moment as an athlete was being named team captain in his sophomore year. “I was never the type of person to really be vocal and take charge. Since the team was relatively young and inexperienced, I stepped up and took on that leadership role. From my freshman year to senior year, it was incredible seeing how much the team was able to grow, not only in terms of our running abilities but also our sense of family. We would always hang out, have team dinners, play video games, or do whatever we were feeling.  That sense of team bonding and unity made every second that much more enjoyable.”

Dan also ended up becoming the president of the student athlete association and became a voice for athletes on campus. He got to go to conferences and meet others, which he enjoyed immensely.

Ricky also made great memories at Pace: “My most memorable moment as a Pace athlete was Regionals this past season. The entire 10 kilometer race was ran through a flooded muddy golf course. Even though the whole team was covered in mud by the end of the race, we still pushed each other to perform our best. It was also the last meet for all of the seniors, so we left all we had out on the course to give them a last great memory as a Pace athlete.”

With graduation coming up, things will be quite different for Dan. He’s already got a job lined up doing app development for QSI, a software engineering company. As for running, the competitive field changes too. “After college it’s not going to be the same running and competing as I’m not going to have the same team around me,” Dan says. “But I’ll always be really active!”

Of course, he may also be heading back to Pace to do his master’s in software engineering… we won’t complain if he does!

Ricky Harris and Dan Citardi are two Seidenberg students who embody the Pace Path and have successfully explored the possibilities of coming to Pace in both their athletic and academic worlds. Do they have any advice for incoming students on how to make the most of their time at Pace?

“Take advantage of everything,” Dan says. “Internships, app development, chats with professionals, workshops, whatever it may be. Seidenberg has so much to offer, and if you put effort into it, the benefits will be impossible to ignore. At Pace in general, the biggest thing I would say is to get involved.  And it’s never too late to try something new. I got involved with Colleges Against Cancer my junior year, and ended up becoming part of the committee that helps plan Relay for Life. You never know the opportunities that will present themselves and you never know who you might meet.”

Ricky and Dan at the 2018 Relay for Life in support of cancer research

“Just be involved in as many opportunities as you can,” Ricky confirms. “Don’t push anything to the side, take advantage of every opportunity and develop yourself as a whole person. I would recommend to go to every event Pace and Seidenberg have because at every event you’ll meet someone new and make new friends also it’s how you make connections with people. Seidenberg is like a family and you won’t find a better group of friends or family on campus.”

Seidenberg Students Finalists at the Fourteenth Annual Pace Pitch Contest

The fourteenth annual Pace Pitch Contest is underway and we are proud to announce that the finalist teams are packed with talented Seidenberg students! Run by the Entrepreneurship Lab at Lubin School of Business, the Pace Pitch Contest challenges teams of students not just from Pace but from other universities around the tri-state area (including Columbia, Harvard, MIT, NYU, Princeton and Stanford) to not just come up with a cool new business idea but to pitch it successfully to a panel of judges. This competition is not for the faint of heart!

The Pitch Contest is based on the Elevator Pitch concept, popular in the venture capital community. It is an extremely concise presentation of an entrepreneur’s idea, business model, marketing strategy, competitive analysis, and financial plan, which is delivered to potential investors. The premise is that it could be made in a few minutes, should the entrepreneur spot a potential investor on an elevator and have the opportunity to pitch their idea during the brief ride.

The final round will be held TONIGHT, Thursday, April 19, 2018, from 5.30pm to 8.30pm in the Bianco Room, One Pace Plaza of Pace University.

Last year, Seidenberg superstars Rachel Gonzalez (MS in Information Systems), Andrew Ku (BS in Computer Science), and Rohana Sosa (BS in Computer Science with minor in Computing Information Technology) took the top spots by pitching their ideas for meditation and artificial intelligence-infused security. Read more about it in the 13th Pace Pitch Contest blog post!

There are a lot of areas teams will be evaluated on during their pitches.

New Business Concepts will be evaluated on the following judging criteria

Business Description: Details of the venture and what it does.

  1. Market Analysis: Characteristics of the market and description of its customers.
  2. Product or Service Analysis: The specifics of the product or service.
  3. Competition: Identify current and potential competitors.
  4. Marketing Strategy: How sales will be achieved.
  5. Operations: How the product or service will be produced and delivered.
  6. Management: An assessment of the entrepreneur(s) and team.
  7. Finances: An overview of the required resources and economics of the venture.
  8. Investment Proposal: The terms and conditions offered to investors.
  9. Presentation: Overall effectiveness of the actual presentation.

Social Ventures will be evaluated on the following judging criteria.

  1. Assessing the Need: An analysis of the social issue and its affected population.
  2. Well-defined Target: Characteristics of the market and targeted population.
  3. Management: An assessment of the entrepreneur(s) and team.
  4. Creativity: A demonstration that the proposed solution displays a unique approach.
  5. Feasibility: A demonstration that the venture can be successfully implemented.
  6. Planning: A clear and well-defined strategy to achieve objectives and goals.
  7. Operations: How the product or service will be physically produced and distributed.
  8. Sustainability: Long-term prospects for viability and success.
  9. Social Impact: The value that the new venture will bring to society.
  10. Presentation: Overall effectiveness of the actual presentation.

Participants must work on both New Business Concepts as well as Social Ventures to make their venture a success in the final round.

Professor Bruce Bachenheimer, Executive Director of the Entrepreneurship Lab, oversees the contest.

The judging panel includes:

  • Danny Potocki, Founder, FINIS Ventures
  • Christine Roth, Economic Development Advisor
  • Jonathan M. Satovsky, Founder & CEO, Satovsky Asset Management, LLC.
  • Sandy Wollman, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Westchester Angels

In total, we have 9 Finalist teams for the contest with around 2 – 3 participants in each team.

Here are the Innovative Ideas our students have come up with:

  1. AngelEats
  • They have come up an idea to combat food waste from restaurants and share the food to nonprofit organizations like orphanages and homeless shelters. Their focus is building a bridge between restaurants and nonprofit organization and giving the food to the people in need.
  • Team members from Pace – Quincy Doccy (BS in Computer Science), Weichao Hou (MS in Finance) and Avinash Mudduluru (MS in Computer Science)
  1. Arogyaa
  • Sanskrit origin meaning – Overall well-being, the health of mind, body, and spirit). It’s been observed that around 251,454 people die due to lack of information about background history and wrong treatment annually. So the application maintains the patients’ medical history, and which coordinates with different doctors and helps them to collaborate to cure patients.
  1. Cuddlefish
  • Cuddlefish is a blockchain based platform which aims to promote financial inclusion for all through microfinance funded by retail investors in developed countries.
  • Team members from Pace – Sumeet (MBA in Product Management) and Jethro (BBA in Financial Research)
  1. iCards
  • Capturing and keeping tangible mementos of your favorite interests has been around for years, from sports cards to niche entertainment references, trading cards have been collected and enjoyed by young and old individuals for years. The team developed iCards that seeks to revolutionize the game, fully integrating the best parts of the industry into a comprehensive, universal platform to trade, play, and collect cards.
  • Team members from Pace – Jen McCall (BS in Computer Science) and John Mulcahy (BS in Computer Science)
  1. Redact
  • Redact is a legal organization that works with individuals who have been convicted of a crime to have their criminal records sealed. Redact’s mission is to unshackle those New Yorkers from the stigma and disabilities that come after a criminal conviction will give a segment of society the chance to get back on their feet.
  • Team member from Pace – Christopher Matcovich (3L, Pace Law School)
  1. RockBox
  • RockBox delivers handmade cocktails from all over the world to the customers’ doorstep. With monthly subscriptions, customers will be provided with the alcohol, bitters, mixers and fresh produce needed to create their own boozy beverage. RockBox plans to target professional millennials who enjoy drinking alcohol and take pride in crafting their own cocktails from the comfort of their home.
  • Team member from Pace – Zakiya Sims (BS in Computer Science)
  1. Sylvian Hyde
  • Sylvian Hyde is an emerging luxury menswear brand founded and based in New York City. The company currently offers ready-to-wear men’s apparel as well as custom and bespoke design services. In the future, the brand plans to gradually expand the product offering to menswear accessories such as belts, bags, shoes, and later a women’s line. The Sylvian Hyde® brand aims to provide men with more options with modern, sophisticated aesthetics and functionality
  • Team member from Pace – Jabari Chambers ‘18 (MBA in Human Resources and Financial Management)
  1. WOTOPA
  • WOTOPA is a platform where campus students can buy, sell, donate, offer services and can build inter university network by exchanging ideas and collaborating via forums. WOTOPA aims to be one stop solution for buying, selling, promoting and collaborating under one roof with safe, secure and easy to use environment for Students.
  • Team members from Pace – Haseeb (MS in Computer Science), Suman (MS in Computer Science) and Varad (MS in Computer Science)
  1. @Pace (Augmented Tour of Pace University)
  • It is a Business-to-Customer (B2C) software startup focusing on augmented reality (AR). The software program allows users to explore Pace University via mobile application, without having to attend a scheduled tour, meaning that – it allows the user to interact and explore the facilities of Pace University, without having to be physically present.
  • Team members at Pace – Kenneth Okereke (MS in Computer Science) and Stephanie Okereke (BS in Computer Science)

Up for grabs is a 1st Prize of $1000 Cash, 2nd Prize of $500 Cash and the 3rd Prize of $250 Cash.

The Seidenberg School of CSIS wishes all participants the best of luck in the contest!

Seidenberg students snatch first and second spot at Pace Pitch Contest

Another year, another incredible performance at the annual Pace Pitch Contest from Seidenberg students. We couldn’t be more proud of Rachel González, Andrew Ku, and Rohana Sosa for taking the top two spots in the contest.

The competition, now in its thirteenth year, challenges students to pitch their ideas with constraints based on the famous Elevator Pitch, the technique of giving a concise and compelling pitch in a very short period of time.

Finalists in the competition had three minutes to give their pitches, which they did on Thursday, April 20, 2017, in the Bianco Room at Pace University. During their presentations, they were judged on their ability to provide: a description of their idea; a market analysis; the specs of their product or service; identification of potential competitors; a marketing strategy; how they aim to produce and deliver their product or service; an assessment of their management; a finances overview; and an investment proposal.

Plenty of Seidenberg students and teams made it to the final round – here are the teams including some of our amazing entrepreneurs!

George Samuels and Arton Mirakaj presenting Atmosphere.

Arton Mirakaj (BA in Computer Science) and George Samuels (BS in Computer Science) presented Atmosphere, a VR mobile application that will be used to improve the health and care of aging populations – the same app that went on to win at the #WestchesterSmart Mobile App Development Bowl!

First place winners Rachel Gonzáles and Danielle Ran pitching Minute Mantra.

Minute Mantra is a health and wellness app that enables mindfulness and clarity, and was developed by Rachel González (BS in Information Systems) alongside Danielle Ran (BBA in Marketing with minor in Psychology).

Thanh Do, Phuc Pham, and Syman Li present charity app TouchDonation.

TouchDonation makes giving to charity simple and was created by Phuc Pham (BS in Information Technology with a minor in Quantitative Business Analysis), Syman Li (BBA in Hospitality) and Thanh Do (BBA in Finance).

Second place winners Andrew Ku and Rohana Sosa with their idea VAICAM Pi.

Seidenberg students Andrew Ku (BS in Information Systems) and Rohana Sosa (BS in Computer Science with minor in Computing Information Technology) created VAICAM Pi. VAICAM Pi is bundled as an Android mobile app, a Google Cardboard virtual reality (VR) headset, and a Raspberry Pi 3, equipped with a 360 camera and artificial intelligence to function as an older person’s own artificially intelligent security camera.

Ricky Harris, Mackenzie Dolishny, and Daniel Citardi pitching VR Discover, an app aimed to improve the lives of aging populations.

Finally, VR Discover – an app built for both Android and iOS, utilizes virtual reality to stimulate cognitive function, provide entertainment, and relieve restlessness stemming from sundowning for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia – was built by computer science students Ricky Harris, Daniel Citardi, and Mackenzie Dolishny. This innovative app also made an appearance at the #WestchesterSmart Mobile App Development bowl, where the team won a prize.

When it was time for the judges to make their decisions, students from Seidenberg snatched up first and second place!

Rachel González and Lubin student Danielle Ran took first place, bagging $1,000 to use toward developing their mindfulness app, Minute Mantra.

Andrew Ku and Rohana Sosa won the second prize of $500 for their artificial intelligence security app, VAICAM Pi.

Rohana and Andrew receive their award with the contest judges

Speaking about her experience, Rohana Sosa remarked that she and Andrew “both had a great experience and a lot of fun being participants in the Pitch Contest. This gave us the opportunity to showcase our talents and apply our programming skills to a business setting. Having this experience is a stepping stone to further our learning process and achieve our educational goals. The contest provided an enriching and stimulating experience to test our ideas and see how impactful the our mobile app concept is.”

There were certainly a wealth of impactful apps and ideas presented at the contest. You can see all of the finalists at the Entrepreneurship Lab website.