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!
This year marks 35 years of the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems being an independent school at Pace University. Originally called the School of Computer Science and Information Systems, the school gained the Seidenberg name in 2005, when Ivan Seidenberg made a record-breaking donation to Pace University in support of his strong belief that all students should receive a tech education.
It’s only natural that, now, whenever Mr. Seidenberg stops by his namesake school, there’s a hint of celebrity in the air. As a top executive for much of his career, Ivan already cuts an impressive figure. However, his 2005 gift to Pace University has been hugely significant for many of our students, enabling them to attend the Seidenberg School as part of the Seidenberg Scholars program – so there is also a sense of gratitude among the excited whispers that there’s a famous celeb at Pace.
So it was no surprise that on Thursday, November 8, 2018, the Seidenberg Lounge at 163 William Street was packed. Students, faculty, and staff turned up in force to meet and hear Ivan speak about his fascinating career, his leadership, and his advice for the next generation of technology executives.
Not only was Mr. Seidenberg on campus to share his wisdom with the community, but we had a crate of volumes of his new book, Verizon Untethered: An Insider’s Story of Innovation and Disruption ready to be signed and shared with our students.
Our guest sat down with Jonathan Hill, Dean of the Seidenberg School, for a fascinating conversation before an audience that was bursting at the seams. After the introductions, the pair cut swiftly to the chase with Dean Hill’s first question – what can our students do to succeed in the workplace?
Ivan’s response was refreshingly honest. “When you go out in this world and you’re high maintenance, people will get rid of you,” Mr. Seidenberg said. “If you’re not a good teammate – you’re gone. Be a good teammate, be collaborative, be nice to work with . . . together you can do great things.”
One point our visiting tech leaders often make is the importance of working well with others, and here was Ivan Seidenberg himself iterating the same idea. He continued with a caution about letting one’s ambitions get in the way of relationships: “Even if you have great ambition, your ambition should not dominate those around you,” he said. “Realize that people are watching you all the time.”
He summed everything up with a list of his top three tips:
Know your stuff
Don’t be a pain (you are always being watched)
Don’t be afraid to take risks
“It’s okay to win, and it’s okay to fail,” he added, noting that he had always found that the harder the work was, the more engaged he got and the more engaged the people around him became.
“There’s a transition that folks do early in their career where they’re called upon to lead,” said Dean Hill. “In the book, you make the statement that leadership has less to do with the individual and more to do with the cultural norms . . . what should people do to cultivate leadership?”
Ivan replied: “I have one word that starts the whole process – accountability. When you’re personally accountable, you accept the responsibility of whatever you’re doing. It shows up in your language . . . accountability starts with your personal willingness to take control of the things you can control.”
He continued, listing two other crucial aspects of leadership: “Leadership is all about standards . . . those people who watch you . . . they watch how you do your work. Do you cut corners?” This was followed by the third facet, respect. “Leadership is also about respect – how you treat other people. Do you treat others as equal?”
And even when you’re in a position of power, what you think is right and correct doesn’t always mean it’s right and correct. To earn respect and trust, a good leader performs the job according to the needs of the people around them, rather than their own ideas. “It wasn’t what I thought was a good job, it was what the people around me thought was a good job.”
Leading by serving the needs of others may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s an effective technique.
Dealing with crises
“How do you deal with crises?” was Dean Hill’s next question.
“Never think it’s about you,” Ivan said. “You don’t face any challenges solo. Particularly in business, it’s got to be about partners. If you embrace that, you have the power of four eyes instead of two, four ears instead of two, two brains . . . and especially for you [students], you understand the power of scale.”
One of the keys in dealing with crises is coming at it head on: “It’s never a case of backing away from it, it’s about embracing it.”
Dean Hill brought up the next topic: mentorship. “In the book, you mention a lot of people who mentored you . . . how did you forge these relationships?”
Ivan responded with a story. He explained about how, when he retired in 2011, lots of people told him he should write a book. After thinking about it and deciding he’d like to give it a try, he spent a lot of time talking to people who influenced his life and his career, and listening to their stories. Those stories became the chapters of his book. “It’s an example of how the power of more than one creates a story,” he remarked.
He was then asked to define what a ‘win’ meant for him. “A win wasn’t necessarily more money, it was having a higher purpose,” he said, and continued with an example from his time at Verizon. Verizon wanted to provide unlimited bandwidth to its customers but was constrained by the capabilities at the time. The company still wanted to do something good for its customers, so they shifted perspective and came up with the goal of becoming the ‘best network’. Once they agreed on their higher purpose, they were able to start acting to make it happen.
It was a good time for Dean Hill’s next question: what are you most proud of?
“Beside my family?” Ivan quipped, smiling at his wife in the front row. “I think in business it’s very simple. When I retired, that was the first question I was asked. The most important contribution to me is that I look back at the company now and see that Verizon is stronger, more independent and more in control of its future. And that’s all I could ever ask for.”
Mr. Seidenberg went on to explain his belief that Verizon is in the position it’s in today because of the people. When he was CEO there, he made sure to manage and mentor the people who would maintain the quality of work that he believed in, even if they employ different styles. “That is the most important thing: to produce people who can achieve things their way.”
He also shared an anecdote offering an interesting perspective on 9/11. One of the less talked-about consequences of the events on that day included a huge hit to cellular service, which affected not only the stock market but individuals and emergency services who were desperately trying to get in touch with one another. Ivan, alongside his team at Verizon, set to reconnecting the country, working diligently to fix the service problems that were preventing people from finding out if their loved ones were okay and services like the fire service from communicating. “9/11 was one of our greatest services,” he told students, “not just for getting the stock market back up and running, but for getting the country back up and running.”
Looking to the future: it’s all about that 5G
“We’re entering the fourth industrial revolution,” said Dean Hill. “What excites you in technology right now?”
“In our industry, all roads lead to 5G. When you think of 5G from where you sit, it’s very cool – latency (the speed of the network) will soon be 50 times what it is today. 5G, coupled with sharper engineering, systems integration, and with IT capability across institutions, will completely change everything. Whatever component of this industry you’re interested in . . . connectivity, network, software systems, and applications – there’s no component holding back all the others. In the next 40 years, what will happen with all of this technology is that it’ll probably get even faster . . . the ability to make the world smaller and provide utility and good, it’s incomprehensible the kind of things that can be done.”
He added: “And I love where you are, you’re getting the kind of education that’ll put you right there.”
On that note, Dr. Hill asked: “what advice do you have for our students to maximize the opportunity of being in school now?”
“If I were the HR department and I was hiring people, I’d assume you’ll have a degree like everybody else. It’ll be a good degree coming out of Pace, but I’d want to know a few other things . . . I’d like the idea that you’ll have done a few collaboration projects for other people . . . I’d like to know that you fixed some programs for other people – having activity that isn’t part of your program.”
Having extracurricular work on one’s resume, especially that demonstrates hands-on experience, is never a bad thing. “Coming in with a resume of activity that fits what you do – it doesn’t have to be scientific, it can be that you like to work with others, you like to work with the scientific community . . . we love good grades, obviously, but we also like to know that you’re worthy of taking a risk on; someone’s got to invest in you.”
Finally, one should never underestimate the power of a smile, according to Ivan Seidenberg! “I love when you walk in the door and you smile . . . smiling is good, it can disarm people.”
Over to you
As time was trickling away too quickly, the Dean turned to the audience for questions. Here are a few of them with Ivan’s responses.
Q: What do you do now that you’re retired?
A: Lots! I participate on boards, invest in companies – including startups. I like investing in helping people to succeed
Q: If you were a college graduate today, would you pursue the same career or something different?
A: I’m only going tell you this cos you shouldn’t do what I did . . . I ended up leaving day school and going to night school. I ended up in the army because of that. I ended up overseas, somewhere I didn’t want to be, because I dropped out of day school. Then I ended up working at the phone company because I dropped out of day school . . . obviously it worked out! But I realized that over that time that I had to fit in, that I couldn’t be an outcast. I had to realize that the sun and the moon and the starts didn’t revolve around me. Sound familiar? What I would not change is the lessons I learned and how I applied them. But whether they would lead me down the same career could be different.
Q: What big risks did you take?
A: I came home and told my wife “we’re moving to Washington!” . . . that was the hardest sale I’ve ever had to make! The other one was when I chose to give up my job as CEO and become co-CEO. Most of the risks you take are personal. They’re not business risks.
Following the Q&A session, the event moved to the renovated collaboration space where a table had been set up for the book signing. Students lined all the way down the hallway for their chance to meet and shake hands with the Seidenberg School’s benefactor. A small celebration took place as the Seidenberg community thanked Mr. Seidenberg for the visit and for his honesty and depth during the discussion. Pace University President Marvin Krislov and Provost Vanya Quiñones also stopped by to greet our guest, and we were happy to see quite a few alumni return to their old stomping grounds for the occasion.
The festival of Diwali originates from India, where it is commonly called the “Festival of Lights”. On the day of Diwali every house is decorated with lots of lights and lanterns. “Laxmi,” the goddess of strength, prosperity, love and wealth, is worshiped on Diwali. People wear traditional Indian clothes and enjoy Diwali night with delicious food and beautiful fireworks.
The Seidenberg Diwali celebration was held at the Seidenberg Lounge, located at 163 William Street. The entrance was decorated with a colorful Rangoli—an art form originating from India, in which patterns are created on the floor or ground using colored sand or flower petals. Rangoli is thought to bring good luck.
Students, faculty, and staff attended the event wearing traditional Indian attire. Even the Dean of the Seidenberg School, Dr. Jonathan Hill, as well as Director of Development Deth Sao wore colorful Indian clothes they had purchased on trips to India to meet with prospective Seidenberg students.
The event started with lantern decorations. Everyone was provided with lanterns, diyas (candles decorated in Indian style), and all the decoration materials. Dean Hill, staff members Katie Todd, Deth Sao, Stephanie Elson, and Melanie Madera sat down with a crowd of students to color in, add glitter to, and otherwise decorate their lanterns.
Every design was inventive and unique, enabling our students to show off their creative flair. All of these lanterns and diyas were displayed at the Seidenberg lounge.
After all the decorations were done, it was time for the diya lighting ceremony. It’s an Indian tradition that the first diya must be lit by the head of the family. Dr. Hill did the honors of lighting the first diya in front of goddess, Laxmi, and wished everyone a very happy and prosperous Diwali.
With the ritual done, it was time for food! On this auspicious occasion of Diwali, everyone enjoyed delicious authentic Indian food with lots of chit chatting.
Everyone there shared thoughts about significance of Diwali and exchanged ideas about how Diwali is celebrated in India. It was a good time for all, especially when everyone got to explore lots of ideas regarding this festival.
Our annual Diwali celebration is always one of our favorites – we are glad that everyone had an amazing time and we look forward to celebrating again next year!
Ready for winter vacation? Celebrate the last few days of the semester with the Seidenberg community at one (or both!) of our holiday parties! Whether you’re finished with finals or still experiencing the struggle, take some time for self-care and spend a couple of hours with friends, food, and festivities.
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.”
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.
On Thursday, October 25, the Software and Systems Engineer at AJA Video Systems, Inc., Jeff Coffin, spoke on the New York City campus for a discussion on the topic, “Embedded Linux: What the Heck is it?” Students had the opportunity to dive into what an embedded system is all about with Jeff. The talk took the form of an interview, where Jeff was posed questions by a very special Seidenberg student – Charlotte Coffin, aka his daughter!
Jeff, current AJA Software and Systems Engineer as well as former American Airlines Software and Systems Engineer, specializes in the operating system known as Linux. The operating system runs most devices that people use every day along with running most of the internet. With an industry professional who has vast knowledge of such an integrative piece of technology, it gave students an opportunity to use critical and creative thinking skills.
Students also received the opportunity to speak with Jeff about his many years of experience in the technology industry. Networking also occurred at this event located in the Seidenberg lounge.
If you missed out on this event, no worries! We have many more speakers lined up for the rest of the Leadership in Technology series.
November 14 – Peggy Yao
Goldstein Academic Center, 12:00pm
Tech Collective Lunch & Learn: Mindfulness for Professional & Personal Success
Wednesday, Nov. 14, the Westchester campus is hosting another segment of the leadership series starting at 12:00pm at the Seidenberg Lounge in Goldstein Academic Center. Special guest, Peggy Yao, will be a speaker at Seidenberg Tech Collective’s lunch and learn. Her speech will be dedicated to the topic, “Mindfulness for Professional & Personal Success,” a topic not often associated with the technology industry. Students will be able to learn tips for a more mindful outlook, network with Yao, and free lunch is, as always, provided. RSVP here to attend.
November 28—Merin Joseph
Goldstein Academic Center, 12:00pm
The Seidenberg Tech Leadership Series
The next event in the series will be on Nov. 28 at the Westchester campus at the Seidenberg Lounge at 12:00pm. Merin Joseph will be giving insider experience from her position as Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer at WESTMED Practice Partners and WESTMED Medical Group. Students can attend this event to get networking experience and tips on how to succeed in their chosen fields. RSVP here to attend.
December 12 –Daniel Barchi
163 William St., 12:00pm
The Seidenberg Tech Leadership Series
The last event in the series will be on Dec. 12 on the New York City campus at the Seidenberg lounge at 12:00pm. The last series speaker, Daniel Barchi, will be giving the inside scoop on his career goals and experiences as Chief Information Officer of NewYork-Presbyterian. Students can join in on this final event to get networking experience and tips on how to succeed in their chosen fields. RSVP here to attend.
We hope to see you at these events for the Seidenberg Technology Leadership series!