Pace Women in Tech celebrates official club status in first meeting

The Pace Women in Tech club held its first meeting as an official Pace organization on Monday, February 6, 2017. Led by Seidenberg students Eiman Ahmed and Niamh Fitzsimon, the meeting was a brief introduction to the club and the plans for the upcoming semester.

Aimed to be a welcoming group where members can make new friends and build a peer network, Pace Women in Tech already has a lot planned for this year. Hackathons, internship workshops, and potential attendance to the 2017 Grace Hopper Celebration conference in Orlando, Florida, were just some of the things on the table.

The group aims to meet every two weeks and new members are welcome to join them for discussions, workshops and the chance to meet guest speakers from the tech industry – all over free pizza, of course.

“We want to spread awareness for the underrepresented group of women in technology,” said Ava Posner (BS in IT ’18). “My goal is to bring Seidenberg students – especially women – together so they have a network of individuals they can share experiences with, ask questions, and make new friends.”

Pace Women in Tech has an active Facebook group that is recommended for members not only so they can stay up to date with meetings and events here at Seidenberg but for local hackathons and other events taking place outside Pace.

Melanie Greene and Dr. James Lawler present inclusion programs for students with disabilities

By Melanie Greene

It was an honor to attend  the Faculty Resource Network’s National Symposium in Atlanta in November. I co-presented with Dr. James Lawler on inclusion programs for students with disabilities in the Seidenberg School. I spoke about the class I took with Dr. Lawler (CIS 102w Web Design for a Not-for-Profit Organization), mentoring students in AHRC’s junior high school and high school programs (they had different levels of autism; one was more severe than the other), mentoring and tutoring Adil Sanai, tutoring his students last semester in his two CIS 102w courses, the two research projects we worked on together, and being a co-moderator for the Disability Film Festival. I got the chance to speak about all of my experiences that I have had working with people with disabilities.

I am uplifted and inspired by Dr. Lawler’s drive and commitment to give people with disabilities access to a college education. I support everything that he is doing.​ I get very emotional talking about all the adventures and learning experiences I have had with Dr. Lawler – they have been life changing opportunities that affect me deeply.

During the conference, we went to three different schools: Morehouse College (an all-male college where Dr. Martin Luther King went), Spelman College (all-female college), and Clark Atlanta University (co-ed).  All of the schools were beautiful, it was a privilege to visit them. I got choked up when we went to Morehouse College because Dr. King went there. I felt like I was walking through history. At the school they had a picture of President Obama delivering the Commencement speech in 2013 and I was in awe: both President Obama and Dr. Martin Luther King’s presences were there.

At the conference, I got the chance to meet other professors from schools  in NY, Atlanta, Hawaii, and others. I enjoyed listening to their research and learning about how we could use social media and technology platforms to teach millennials.

Dr. Lawler and I went to a delicious Italian restaurant one night and a Brazilian restaurant (it was my first time going to a Brazilian restaurant). We invited a professor from Spelman College that I met to join us for dinner, which was a lot of fun. One night our bus broke down which was an experience in itself. The bus was literally like the engine that could. When we broke down one professor started to play Bob Marley “Don’t Worry” and we all chimed in – it was priceless. The bus kept trying to get us all back to the hotel, but unfortunately it failed. We had to walk back to the hotel. On our final day we visited the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. I was overwhelmed with emotion, I had the chills the whole time – history was brought to life. To walk where Dr. King walked, to stand in the area where he preached in Ebenezer Baptist Church, to see the pole in the firehouse where he played on as a child, and lastly to see his grave was indescribable.

My favorite part of the trip was having the privilege to present with Dr. Lawler.  This certainly is a weekend that I will never forget. I thank Dr. Lawler and the Seidenberg School for giving me the opportunity to attend this conference. I will always cherish the incredible memories from this trip.

Gianna Sorrentino (BS in CS ’19) talks classes at Seidenberg

gianna-sorrentinoGianna Sorrentino is double majoring in an awesome combination: Computer Science and Criminal Justice. With a graduation date of 2019, we can’t wait to see what she gets up to over the next few years!

We asked Gianna to tell us about the classes she’s taking this semester. She’s in CS 271: Fundamentals of Unix, taught by Professor Paul Benjamin and CS 242: Data Structures and Algorithms, taught by Dr. Miguel Mosteiro.

unix-1In CS 271, the focus is on the fundamentals of Unix. This multitasking and multi-user operating system offers a simple set of tools that perform a limited, well-defined function with a file system that is used as the main source of communication. Depending on what task you are trying to complete, Unix can be used to get it done! One of their class projects was to work on basic commands. Gianna was able to make a print out calender (pictured) for any month of the year by typing in “cal” followed by a month and/or year.

She also got the program to perform cool tasks using a simple command of the word ‘echo’ followed by different combinations of words.

“By typing in ‘echo’ followed by different phrases in brackets separated by commas, it can print out all of the combinations of words,” Gianna said.

unix-2

In CS 242, the main focus is understanding running time scenarios and the most efficient ways to run a program. The goal is to find a way to complete the task both in the least amount of time and to do so correctly. In her freshman year at Pace, Gianna learned how to code. In this class, she is learning to use code more effectively.

Professor Mostiero assigned his students a snippet of code and gave them the task of understanding it and then running it. Each user was made to input a list and then that specific program gives them a running time, in nanoseconds, of how long it took to search the list. Pretty cool!

Thanks to Gianna for taking the time to talk about her classes with us. Keep up the great work!

NYVR Meetup co-organizer DJ Smith answers our questions about VR

DJ Smith

At the same New York Virtual Reality Meetup mentioned in the previous blog post, Seidenberg students Avery Leider and Harpreet Singh Wasan were able to interview a few of the other attendees and founders to pick their brains about the VR industry as it’s suddenly growing as software and hardware are becoming easier to access by the day. By attending Meetups in the NYC tech scene, Avery and Harpreet hope to gain substantial knowledge on the state of the industry as it’s expanding and also to experience the various developments that people are bringing to these Meetups, both hardware and software related.

In this next interview we hear from DJ Smith of Morristown, NJ, NYVR’s co-organizer since the beginning of 2014. Smith is also a member of the Washington DC VR Meetup, but between Meetups he works as an engineer, builder, artist, and entrepreneur. Here are his responses to our students’ queries:

Harpreet: From the time you started with Virtual Reality until now, what, in your opinion, is the most exciting development in VR?

Smith: Now, the Social VR Apps, obviously, because I just presented on it, that has really excited me for two reasons – one, the freedom to basically create the worlds, and then, two, to be able to share those worlds with other people and communicate with them directly. I think both of those things are wonderful aspects of VR Social Apps and I am anxious to see how far they will go.

H: Is there anything else that comes to your mind that is also about to take off?

NYVR

S: Right behind Social VR Apps, I really like what people have been doing with the actual live video aspect of it. So, basically, to be able to film in 360 degree video or 180 degree 3-D video, and in being able to view an event in a headset that is around your entire body, you just get that sense of presence, and I think the future of media is going to be just that. It’s going to be an all-encompassing thing. So, I think Social VR apps and then the 360 degree and maybe 3D live video – however they will be incorporated into the public – those will be the two main focuses.

H: What is your advice to Pace University students who want to get into VR?  How should they go about getting into the industry?

S: Come to New York VR Meetups!

Avery: So, if Pace University students wanted to help you in your Virtual Meetup room, to add our Pace University assets to your VR world, what do you recommend we do?

S: Wow, if I could get a bunch of college kids to build my virtual room, that would be awesome! The VR Chat room that I created [for the Meetup], NYVR Room, is built in Unity. I’m a very basic developer without a lot of advanced knowledge. It’s relatively easy for a newcomer – just download Unity, start messing around, and reach out to me. If there are students who are willing to contribute, I’m happy to incorporate their stuff and give them small tasks. Or, better yet, go on VR Chat, build your own thing, that would work, too. And invite me, because I want to see it!

So there you have it. It doesn’t take solid groundwork of experience to get started in VR development. This is our challenge to other students at Seidenberg who have caught an interest in VR: start playing with it and share something at the next NYVR Meetup!

A chat with Virtual Reality Trailblazer, Eric Greenbaum

Eric Greenbaum Harpreet Wasan
Eric Greenbaum (L) and Harpreet Wasan (R)

Virtual Reality is riding on the latest boom in the technology sector, and one way Seidenberg is keeping up with the ever-growing community is through Meetups. These Meetup communities and events are an excellent resource for exchanging information, ideas, and joining forces with other trendsetters in the field. Just last week, Seidenberg CS graduate student Harpreet Wasan and CS PhD student Avery Leider attended the most recent New York Virtual Reality (NYVR) Meetup to interview some of the leaders there to see what’s new and improving in the VR scene.

One person Avery and Harpreet were eager to speak with was Eric Greenbaum, an original founder and organizer of the NYVR and NYVR Developers Group MeetUps. Greenbaum works as a patent attorney, entrepreneur, and start-up consultant, and has also been active as a ‘Virtual Reality Trailblazer‘ since seeing the 1992 movie Lawnmower Man, in which the main character becomes a genius through VR technology used to augment his intelligence. And although Lawnmower Man may not be the best advocate for convincing the world of the usefulness in VR technology — there is definitely an allure to VR’s range of possibilities! In fact, Greenbaum believes that with the introduction of the Oculus Rift, “VR is poised to take the tech world by storm.”

Harpreet and Greenbaum talked about the current expansion in the VR industry:

Harpreet: From the time you started with Virtual Reality, how far has VR come?

Greenbaum: The VR industry has grown a lot, since 2012 until now, from being essentially nonexistent to being one of the world’s most exciting technology platforms — kind of like the Internet. I think it is important to recognize that before the recent excitement, there were people working on industrial VR for the last 20 years. So there has been this whole movement, bubbling beneath the surface, of really dedicated scientists and engineers working on VR since the 90’s. It wasn’t until the cell phone industry drove down prices on screens and inertial measurement devices that enabled accessible VR for the masses. So, how has it changed? It changed from like 7 people in the grimiest co-working space in midtown to like 1500 people [in the NYVR MeetUp], and we’re packing out Microsoft on a monthly basis.

 H: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen in VR? 

G: The social VR is the most exciting; you saw some of it [at this MeetUp] and it is a little bit primitive, but it holds a promise to change the way we interact with each other. Imagine being able to sit in a virtual space with your friends from around the country or around the world and share and watch a movie or play chess or have that feeling of being together in a space. It’s really powerful and I think it’s going to change everything.

H: So, there are students at Pace University that are interested in getting into the VR industry – what advice can you give them to get started?

G: If you want to get into VR, the most important thing is to have an idea. What do you want to build? Before you start to think about what concrete skills you need to build it, spend some time thinking about what unique characteristics VR can bring to the table and how can I use that to do something amazing? Once you think about your idea, the tools that are available are really accessible. For example there is a program called Unity, which is a go-to tool to build a VR experience, and even if you have no programming experience at all – no gaming experience at all – if you sit down and spend a few hours with Unity you can make strides and build things. As someone who two years ago had zero experience, the experience of sitting down and building a space and then entering it in a virtual way, was one of the most transformative technology experiences I’ve ever had. If you haven’t done it, do it. Unity is free – there’s no reason to not do it.

twitter shot

For more information about the Virtual Reality scene, stay tuned for other interviews we’re conducting with various members in the field! You can also head over to Eric Greenbaum’s blog to see what VR topics he’s currently discussing. Lastly, don’t hesitate to get going on the Meetup trend. There are a bunch of events coming up in the city, so let us know on Twitter (@pace_seidenberg) when you’re going!

 

Briana is spending her summer as a Data Science intern in our country’s capital

DC Workplace1. Who are you working with this summer? (…and what do they do?)

I work as a data science intern under the Office of the Chief Data Officer for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve in Washington D.C.

2. Can you tell us a little about what you are doing? (We might not understand the technicalities, but we’d love details!)

I work on a team that handles data management, integration, and dissemination – which essentially means we’re responsible for the Board’s data releases (both internal and external). My project is to analyze the efficiency of our current data release processes as they relate to timeliness and efficiency, design and implement optimization efforts/metrics, and develop a near-real-time operational dashboard for use by management and stakeholders.

3. Is there a particular class or professor at Seidenberg that has helped you prepare specifically for your current internship? (Clearly, we’re all about shout outs this summer!)Board Room DC Sushi Burrito

At the moment, I’m focusing on algorithm analysis and machine learning models, so I’d like to give a shout out to Professor Benjamin and Professor Cha for all of their wonderful guidance in these fields thus far!

4. Does your new office have a favorite restaurant/hangout they go to after work? (No! we’re not going to show up like proud parents!) 

So there’s this place called Buredo near my office that has burrito-sized sushi rolls, need I say more? Those who know me know I’m crazy for sushi, so this place is like a dream come true!

Briana Vecchione is a rising senior in the Seidenberg School, set to earn her BS/CS by May of 2016. She is also a recipient of the Grace Hopper grant that will send her to the Grace Hopper Conference in Houston, Texas this October.

Briana Vecchione