Building with Accessibility in Mind at Codeland 2019: a Seidenberg student’s story

Luisa Morales, a Computer Science graduate student, has a lengthy list of achievements from her academic career at the Seidenberg School of CSIS. The former Seidenberg student assistant, undergraduate economics student, and Engineering Fellow at the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity curated a resume full of achievements that any student would be proud of.  This summer Luisa went above and beyond—she hosted a workshop at Codeland 2019 titled, Building with Accessibility in Mind.

Codeland, a conference created for new and growing developers, was held in New York City on July 22. Luisa joined a fantastic lineup of workshop mentors and speakers including Avi Flombaum, Co-founder and CIO of Flatiron School, and Jasmine Greenaway, Cloud Advocate at Microsoft. 

Luisa’s workshop called attendees to “come demystify web accessibility with me and get into the nitty-gritty of what it is, how you can test for accessibility on your own, and common best practices. We’ll build an accessible website in the process that you can boast about on GitHub. You’ll also gain practical experience you can utilize to make your current, and future, projects more accessible.”

She explains that her workshop took a very collaborative and hands-on approach with attendees working on demo sites. Everyone in attendance worked in pairs to learn a variety of skills: how to use a screen-reader and keyboard to test website accessibility as well as integrating common practices for improving the accessibility of their projects. 

Asked about specific techniques she teaches her students, Luisa says “this includes things like using semantic HTML, color contrast, font sizes, and ARIA, amongst other things.”

It’s a fair assessment to say that those who learned from Luisa’s workshop earned some crucial and exciting skills to utilize in the future. But where did the idea for the workshop come from?

“The inspiration behind the workshop is my belief in the importance of making the things we produce as developers accessible to as many people as possible and demystifying the idea that it’s too difficult to do or unnecessary,” she explains. “By making a website accessible, you make it better for everyone and increase your potential market share, so I’m not sure why some people think it’s not important. At the Mayor’s Office, it’s ingrained into the development process and a lot of what I’ve learned there is influencing this workshop. I hope that attendees [came] away feeling more comfortable building with accessibility in mind and that it informs their choices as developers, designers, [and] product managers going forward.”

Luisa would like to encourage students—whether they attended her workshop or not—to attend Codeland in the future. She explains that it’s a “very inclusive environment and it’s a great opportunity to meet other people on a similar career path and potentially even your future coworkers!”

Codeland offered an opportunity for Luisa to teach others what she’s passionate about. She had the chance to improve the skills of those in attendance and explains just what that felt like for her.

“I’m proud of how curious and empathetic the workshop attendees were. Building accessible experiences, and especially testing your work with a screen reader, can be overwhelming,” Luisa explained. “Everyone in the workshop was excited to learn how to improve the experiences they created for users online. They were also keen to experience the web as visually impaired users do” by using screen-readers or only keyboards.

While she is proud of her students, Luisa took the time to acknowledge the pride she takes in her own role at Codeland.

“I’m also really proud of myself for putting together the workshop and presenting it at the conference,” she states. “It was very scary to do, but definitely worth the effort and jitters. Would do it again!”

We’re very proud of Luisa here at Seidenberg as well. Students like her who go out of their way to assist other developers to improve their skills are fantastic examples of our community. 

To make things even better, Luisa made sure that her workshop is available online for free! Anyone can access the workshop on GitHub and go through it themselves. She also makes herself available on Twitter for anyone who has questions about her workshop or web accessibility.

Curious about web accessibility? Luisa included some helpful resources for students to check out to learn more. Take a look:

  1. “YES, your site can (and should) be accessible too. Lessons learned in building FT.com” – by Laura Carvajal (https://vimeo.com/215169705)
  2. Tech Done Right Podcast Ep: “Accessibility With Luisa Morales” (https://www.techdoneright.io/49)
  3. Web Fundamentals: Accessibility by Google (https://developers.google.com/web/fundamentals/accessibility)
  4. What & Why Of Usability by usability.gov (https://www.usability.gov/what-and-why/index.html)

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Seidenberg Student Receives an Award at Eastern Colleges Science Conference

Seventeen students from the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems traveled to the Eastern Colleges Science Conference on April 6th. It was a wonderful chance for students to experience from start to finish, the process of preparing for and presenting at an esteemed conference. The experience was made possible by the Kenan Student-Faculty Conference Grant.

Out of the 17 capstone students and graduating seniors whose research was accepted, 12 students presented posters and 5 gave platform presentations (15-minute oral presentations with a question and answer session afterward). While the presentations were the highlight of the conference, all the students were able to network and learn from students of surrounding institutions.

Seidenberg Computer Science Professor, Pauline Mosley, explained that this experience was intended to prepare students for future conferences. The students who attended learned “how to interact, network, and make collaborations.”

Pauline also mentioned the importance of conference participation: “the art of presenting one’s research provides student[s] with another dimension of learning that [can] only be achieved by conference participation.”

While all the students gained exposure that will benefit their careers and education, Pauline wanted to note one presenter who stood out from the rest: Quincy Doccy.

 Quincy, a graduate who received his BS in Computer Science this past May, presented his platform presentation “See Through Your Meal” at the conference. He competed against Ithaca College students and won in the category of Psychology and Health. Quincy received the Award for Best Platform Presentation.

Pauline explained just why Quincy’s presentation was award-worthy: “Some students read off the PowerPoint slides, but Quincy – walked around the room, told jokes, gave history, and discussed his project calmly and it was great!  His project entailed analyzing the data for restaurant reviews and his reason for doing this project was that he got food poison[ing] after eating at one of the restaurants.”

“My presentation, ‘See Through Your Meal’ was on the NYC restaurants letter grade system,” he explained. “The objective of the project was to analyze the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) health inspections results datasets to identify the deficiencies and limitations of the current restaurant letter grading system and determine its effectiveness. I also implemented an application prototype that’d help restaurant goers to make informed decisions when choosing to dine at their next restaurant.”

Quincy noted that this presentation was the final step in completing his capstone course. He believes this step in his education was crucial, and he enjoyed the conference.

“It was an awesome experience to listen to other college students present their research from diverse fields and receive positive feedback on my presentation,” Quincy explained. “I also enjoyed networking with faculty members and other students.”

When asked how it felt to win an award for something he worked so hard on, Quincy explained that “it was great to know that all the hard work and effort I put into my research was acknowledged and recognized by the judges.”

Quincy did an excellent job of representing Seidenberg and the Pace University community. We’re proud of all that he and the other students accomplished at this conference.

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Seidenberg student attends CHASE2018 Conference

A student from Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems had the opportunity of a lifetime when they were chosen to attend a conference in Washington D.C. last fall in September.

Yaodong Du, a  Ph.D. candidate, was chosen by Juan Shan, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science, to attend the CHASE2018 Conference from Sept. 26 to 28.

The conference, titled, The Third IEEE/ACM Conference on Connected Health: Applications, Systems and Engineering Technologies, gave Du the chance to present his and Shan’s work on an advanced research project in the field of medicine. Du explained that the conference is a “leading international conference in the field of connected health, which is related to our research area.”

“[At] the conference, we [presented] our recent work on using [a] machine learning method to analyze 3D MRI images for knee osteoarthritis prediction,” explained Du.

Osteoarthritis, described by the Arthritis Foundation as “the most common chronic condition of the joints,” is currently affecting close to 27 million Americans

The work presented at the conference by Du and Shan is dedicated to diagnosing this degenerative joint disease. Their machine learning method specializes in analyzing 3-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) images to detect osteoarthritis of the knee. This means that their research can help doctors detect the disease before patients experience permanent joint damage.

Along with presenting their own work, Du and Shan had the opportunity to network and listen to other top industry professionals speak about their areas of expertise.

Du says that one of the best parts of the conference was when “many researchers from different institutions stopped by, [asked] questions and discussed.”

“[CHASE2018] widened my sight, and deepened my cognition on the research and my knowledge,” Du explained, highlighting the impact the conference had on him.

Our Seidenberg students are accessing and working with technology that has the ability to innovate and to heal. With brilliant minds and abundant opportunities, Seidenberg students make worthwhile change.

As for the future of their work, Du said, “we will continue our work on exploring useful information to help [in the field of] predicting diseases.”

Du and Shan’s work will continue to carve out a path in the Pace community for other Seidenberg students to follow.

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Seidenberg student wins Airbnb Pricing Challenge on Westchester campus

Ian Carvalho, a Seidenberg student in the process of obtaining an MS in Computer Science, is a student to watch. The award-winning individual spends his time volunteering and creating apps dedicated to assisting others when he has a free moment. His most recent success came from the Pace AirBnB Pricing Challenge where he won first place!

As an undergraduate student, Ian was fortunate enough to be the recipient of the Brazilian government-funded scholarship, Science Without Borders, which helped him study in the United States for a year. The scholarship led him to Pace University to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees. After obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in 2016, Ian scored a Research Internship with IBM over the summer. When fall rolled around, he decided to stick around at Seidenberg for his graduate education, choosing to pursue a Masters in Computer Science.

So far, Ian has called his time at Seidenberg, “very intense.” As a Graduate student, Graduate Assistant for Dr. Juan Shan, and PIP Design Factory team member, it’s safe to say that his time has been exactly that—but he’s not done yet.

During his time as a Seidenberg student, he’s gone above and beyond in his extracurricular activities. Ian taught a workshop on iOS development in partnership with PCS, won first place in the App Design Contest with the Entrepreneurship Lab for his application Helpteer, and participated at a Humanitarian Hackathon hosted by Google to assist the non-profit, Techo, which seeks to overcome poverty in slums.

Most recently, Ian identifies himself as a volunteer, Agile NYC participant, and a Java tutor. Beyond those activities, he’s a freelance iOS and Game Developer and Senior Software Developer at BRQ Digital Solutions. Plus, he is working on his master’s thesis.

“Currently, I am writing my thesis on applying deep learning to assist medical imaging problems [such] as Breast Cancer detecting and Knee bone segmentation,” he explains.

All of Ian’s successes are considered a win for all of the Seidenberg community, but his first place win for the Pace AirBnB Pricing Challenge is definitely something to recognize.

A group photo of the students who participated in the Airbnb Challenge.

The challenge was created by Professor Lala and sponsored by INFORMS on the Westchester campus. The goal of the competition, which was held through the platform Kaggle, was to create a machine learning program with the capability to predict the current price of a listing using the given Airbnb data. Students were encouraged to actively participate in order to make their entry the best possible.

“I participated very actively during the last week of the challenge,” Ian explains.

Ian developed an artificial intelligence model to predict rental pricings for Airbnb listings, and his role of actively participating during the last week led to his ultimate victory. But his triumph did not come easily. Ian detailed the process of testing different models to see which achieved the highest performance. In the end, he combined the results of several models to predict the closest result.

“The challenge consisted in analyzing a dataset with more than [just] variables as a number of beds, reviews, amenities, etc. from [an] Airbnb listing. Part of the dataset ([which was] used for training) had the pricing, which the model used to learn patterns,” he explains.

These analyses were not a one and done deal. Ian explains that he had to rework the model many times.

“After learning, the model would try to predict the prices in the testing dataset,” he explains. “Results would then be submitted to Kaggle, that would compare to the real results and assign a score. It sounds simple, in theory, but the work involved many steps and especially because I was working solo, it got very intense at first I would have to clean the data, remove useless columns, fill missing values and encode some of the data in a way that’s understandable to the model.”

The process was long, especially since Ian spent most of the last week of the challenge really cramming to achieve the best result. When he received that win in the end, all of his hard work and maximum effort worth it. When asked about how he felt about winning, Ian summed it up with one word: “amazing.”

“I knew I had a good result because of the way that the competition works. They show a public partial leaderboard and when the competition finishes they disclose the complete result,” Ian explained. “So it could be possible that someone at the first place in the public leaderboard would be placed in second in the final score. So until the last minute, I was trying to improve my model to make sure I would win.”

As for his overall experience, Ian would recommend it to anyone.

“It’s very rewarding. When I first started, I wasn’t expecting to win, as this was my first challenge of the kind, but I got good results and they kept improving with every submission. I learned a lot and it was very fun,” he notes.

Seidenberg students have numerous opportunities throughout the school year to compete in tech challenges, Hackathons, and much more! Make sure you check in with our social media to see what challenges are coming up next.

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An inside look at a student internship with IBM

Tianyu Wang, a Ph.D. Candidate studying Data Science at Pace University, is a cybersecurity specialist and financial professional in the making. The Seidenberg student has obtained not one, but two Masters of Science in Computer Science and Financial Management as well as a Ph.D. in Philosophy. Now he’s on the path of getting his next Ph.D. in Data Science. His extensive education has brought him numerous roles tailored to his professional career, but his latest role might just be his most impressive: Data Scientist Intern at IBM.

The Westchester campus student worked his way up from the position of Coach for National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) at Pace University to Lab Course Instructor, Teaching Assistant, Research Lab Network Administrator, and finally to where he is now: Graduate Research Assistant. Tianyu has held positions at Mount Sinai Health System as a Data Security Intern and at Human Rights Watch as an Intern in the Department of Finance Operations. Now an internship at IBM is adding to his extensive resume of knowledge and experience. Tianyu had a lot to say about the opportunities he scored through this dream job.

First, it’s important to note what data science is all about. According to Tianyu, the career route consists of three things: math/statistics, coding, and research. While at IBM, he notes that his day-to-day job tasks included “obtaining data, cleaning it, analyzing it and communicating actionable insights for decision making.”

“My impression from data science is that the work is highly intellectually satisfying and the results of your work are highly tangible,” he explains. “It means that there is faster feedback and a highly tangible connection between your work and outcomes.”

Tianyu explains that there are differences between coding for school and coding for work. He notes that “framework should not only solve the problem for a current project but also provide a potential capability to address a similar problem for other teams in the future. For example, codes should easily be extended and adapted for the new functionalities. It should be able to maintain reliability, safety, or security of the new application for the whole team.”

Tianyu explains that being proactive is important, and that “opportunities always come with risks, but it is worthwhile for young people. Continue learning something new [and it] will absolutely lower the risks.”

He also recommends that students should look into the Career Services system: “students would learn a lot from [their] career counselors. Then, get a job and start the path with what you learn from it. Keep refreshed with latest technologies, and keep researching the market requirements. It will help a student stay off [their] comfort zone.”

So stay proactive, learn from your internships and classes, and stay refreshed with the latest technologies and research. There’s a lot that one can do to score that coveted internship with a top tech company. Tianyu’s advice is useful for anyone looking to dive into a high-end technological or financial career. We’re happy to share Tianyu’s story and helpful advice to further your story as well!

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Seidenberg Junior wins the Northeast-10 Conference Women’s Swimming and Diving Sport Excellence Award for the second year in a row

Swimming and computer science don’t have much in common, but when a Seidenberg student wins an award for academic and athletic success, they intersect quite well. Jana Ciric is a junior Computer Science major and Division II Swim Team member on the Westchester campus. She just earned the Northeast-10 Conference Women’s Swimming and Diving Sport Excellence Award for the second year in a row.

The third-year student explains that she started swimming when she was in the third grade; “when I was a little kid, my parents would take me to Greece every year and all I wanted to do was play in the water. They helped me make the right choice and choose swimming when I was ready to take on a sport.”

Growing up, Jana was on Serbia’s National Swimming Team for four years. During that time, she participated in European regional meets, like the Balkan Junior Championship, where she won the silver medal in the 50-meter freestyle. She was also the captain of the “Sveti Nikola” swimming club in Serbia for six years, helping to coach and organize a team of ten swimmers for practices and swim meets.

She notes that her time swimming for Pace has been excellent, but it definitely differs from her experience in Europe: “at Pace, we have dual meets every week, but very little championship meets (one or two per year), whereas in Europe we have championships more often but have no dual meets.”

https://paceuathletics.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4224
Jana Ciric from Pace U Athletics website

The amount of time she spends with the Pace Swimming and Diving team has allowed her to form close friendships that she considers the most important part of her experience.

“I consider my team to be the closest thing I have to home since I am really far from home,” she explains.

Even with the homesickness that she endures, Jana found time to rack up quite a list of accomplishments. She holds six (out of over 20) of Pace University’s swimming records, earned Dean’s List First Honors for Fall 2018, completed a spring internship as a Junior Programmer/Analyst at Central National Gottesman, and lined up an exciting internship at AQR Capital Management for this summer. She also did all of this while working as a Tutor the Pleasantville Tutoring Center and a Student Assistant for the Athletic Department! Maintaining those records, grades, and workload is not easy.

“I have always had a really good work ethic and determination. Once I set my mind on something, I work really hard until I get it,” Jana notes. “I have unconditional support from my family which has been pushing me to do better every day. Even though they are almost 5,000 miles away they are always with me, helping me to achieve my dreams.”

How does it feel to earn her second straight NE10 Swimming and Diving Sport Excellence Award? Jana says that it “feels amazing,” and rightfully so.

“I am really proud to have won that award again since I put a lot of emphasis on my education. I am a student first and an athlete second. I wouldn’t have even come to the U.S. if it weren’t for my passion for academics and education (as well as swimming). This is why I think this award is so important to me – it really celebrates why all of us are here at college: to get a better education.”

Jana’s success is a success for all of Seidenberg. Her hard work showcases just how possible it is to obtain friendship, accomplishments, and a degree while being a student-athlete, intern, and employee. We’re proud to show off all that Jana does within the Pace community!

Jana would like to note that she really appreciates that Dean Hill and Andreea attend her swim meets and cheer her on. You can always check the swim team schedule to see when Jana will be competing. We’re sure that she’d love to have a crowd there cheering her on.