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.

Seidenberg student Tejas Chavan wins one of only two UXPA International scholarships

Dear Tejas,

On behalf of the UXPA International Board and the 2017 Student Scholarship Committee, we would like to congratulate you on winning the 2017 UXPA Student Scholarship Award.

Your entry was selected as it stood out to the judging panel for its content and originality. You will be joining us in Toronto next month for the UXPA 2017 International Conference!

That was the email Tejas Chavan (MS in Information Systems) received informing him about the scholarship he’d just won to the UXPA 2017 International Conference. This wouldn’t be the first time Tejas has travelled to another country for a conference – in fact, the last time was less than a year ago – but it’s certainly going to be an event he will attend with career goals in mind.

“Since I will be graduating soon, and I will be looking for a full-time opportunity (obviously in UX), I have been attending lots of meetups, and conferences where I can showcase myself and make some good connections as well,” Tejas said. “With that context, I was recently shortlisted by UXDC committee for their UXDC2017 annual summit on April 14th to present my poster and to represent the Seidenberg School and Pace University as a student delegate.”

Tejas has spent his final semester working with Professor Stacey Sarris on an independent study project regarding research methods in human-computer interaction (HCI). It was while working on this project that Tejas met the president of UXPA DC, Ali Tobolsky. Tejas had been reaching out to UX industry experts to survey them for an assignment; Ali was one of them.

“Now the real story starts,” Tejas explained. “I connected her on LinkedIn and sent her my survey link asking if she can forward it to any relevant contacts. She sent me a number of links to groups where I could try my luck. So, I was submitting my survey in each group and I stumbled upon this post saying ‘UXPA International 2017 Student Scholarship.’ I thought since it came it to me from nowhere, I should give it a try. I submitted my application which consisted of a few questions and a letter of recommendation, which I got from Prof. Sarris. I had a very strict deadline to submit it within two days since I got to know about it pretty late.”

Tejas Chavan with Professor Stacey Sarris after getting the good news that Tejas was awarded the scholarship
Tejas Chavan with Professor Stacey Sarris

The submission went through in time, and Tejas received an email from Sara Mastro, the UXPA International Vice President, and Jack Holmes, the UXPA Student Scholarship Award Chair, telling him that he was a scholarship recipient.

“I cannot really believe that I am one of the two winning students from the world. I am feeling ecstatic for getting selected for this award and I would like to thank Prof. Stacey and all my other friends for being a solid support throughout this journey.”

The conference is taking place in Toronto this year, and Tejas will receive flights and transportation, four nights at a hotel, registration to the conference and a year’s membership to UXPA International.

Professor Stacey Sarris, who is an expert in user experience and user interface design, said: “I’m very proud of Tejas; he has thrown himself into User Centered Design, created opportunities for himself, and has taken advantage of everything that comes his way.” Stacey

“I’ve already started packing my bags!” Tejas added.

But wait! There’s more!

Not long after Tejas’ great news, the kind folks at Seidenberg decided they didn’t want him to be lonely, so we are sending his teammates with him to attend the conference and represent their project and the Seidenberg School in Toronto!

Now, Abhishek Kale (MS in Information Systems), Nayana Madhekar (MS in Information Systems), and Honglin Yi (MS in Computer Science) will also get to attend and participate in this exciting conference.

The UX gang is excited to be going to Toronto!
From left to right, Professor Stacey Sarris and her students Nayana Madhekar, Honglin Yi, Abhishek Kale, and Tejas Chavan

Congratulations to all four of these incredible students and to Professor Sarris! We can’t wait to hear how the conference goes!

Students Dhruv Gandhi and Tejas Chavan to enter UX World Championship

We couldn’t be more proud of two of our amazing students, Dhruvil Gandhi and Tejas Chavan, who are finalists in the UX World Championship taking place in October!

Dhruv Poster
Dhruv’s winning poster

The competition challenged students to develop interactive concepts for future shopping experiences in order to improve the way we shop. Each entrant had to design a poster depicting their ideas, a process which took a lot of hard work and careful consideration.

“It was totally unexpected,” says Dhruv, after receiving the news. “I believe it’s people you have around you that affects your work. Friends, mentors and critiques – I am grateful to everyone.” Dhruv particularly wanted to thank Virali Jhaveri, a recent Seidenberg grad, for her help with the project.

Dhruv, Stacey Sarris, and Tejas

Dhruv and Tejas worked over summer to put together their competition submissions alongside a team of fellow students and alumni, under the guidance of Seidenberg professor Stacey Sarris. Professor Sarris, who coached the students throughout the process, said: “Two students reaching the finals shows that applying hard work and User Experience principles works! I couldn’t be more proud of both Dhruv and Tejas and I can’t wait to how they do in Austria.”

Professor Sarris teaches IS 660S – Interface Design for Web Applications. The class introduces students to the theories of Human-Computer Interaction and Usability and presents methodologies for analyzing and designing user-centered interactive interfaces.

Tejas' poster
Tejas’ poster

Tejas had some inspirational words to share: “If you are really dedicated to something, and if you have a great mentor like Prof. Stacey, then there is the possibility that you will be lost on your way to AWESOMENESS!”

Speaking of awesomeness, here’s what being a finalist means for our two superstars:

  • A ticket to the World Usability Congress 2016
  • A flight to Graz / Austria
  • Accommodation for one week
  • An Experience Tour in Styria

At the UX finals, the students will receive two additional tasks and will have six hours to solve them. The jury, which will be composed of experts from sponsoring partners and WUC speakers, will choose the winner of the UX World Championship.

The winner will be awarded at the World Usability Congress, so stay tuned!

We’re so proud of our students! We’re also pretty proud of the fact that Pace University is the only university to have not one but two students enter the final – some might suggest that says something about our students (that they’re the best).