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.

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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

D-D-D Defense! (or rather, C-C-D-C Defense!)

The Pace Cybersecurity Team based on the Pleasantville campus started the spring semester by competing in the virtual qualifier for the regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC).

IMG_1351 IMG_1371NECCDC 2015 Nick

Out of the twenty problems our cyber warriors had to address over the eight-hour competition, challenges included things like defending a small business network against a big bad Red team, the configuration of a Palo Alto firewall, implementation of SSH on Linux servers, and an internal vulnerability audit with OpenVAS, to name a few.

NECCDC Team 2015
(L to R): Mayrimar Vega-Vasquez (BS/IT), Joseph Glasser (BS/IT), Kaila Letteri (BS/IT) co-captain, Joseph Jacob (BS/IT), Brian Bounos (BS/CS), Joel Thomas (BS/CS), Nick Terrasi (BS/IT) co-captain, and Patrick Prescott (BS/IS).

Kaila Marie Letteri, a senior Information Technology major reflects on her experience.

“I found out about the Pace Cybersecurity Team in my junior year. I was very interested in getting involved in activities that would prepare me for a career in IT Security since my long-term goal is to work for the FBI or the CIA. I felt this cyber defense competition would be the perfect opportunity to expand my IT Security skills. However, after a few meetings I was intimidated because I did not know a lot, and I felt that the students on the team knew so much more than me. Now, in my senior year, I decided to give the competition one more try. After attending the first few meetings, the team held elections for captain positions. I told myself that this time I would not give up no matter what, and that it was meant to be a learning experience. It soon turned out to be one of the best learning experiences I have had at Pace.

I decided to run for team captain, and I was surprised to find out that I had been chosen to lead the team! We quickly started getting into gear by hosting meetings every Monday and Friday throughout the entire fall semester. We spent 60+ hours preparing the virtual environment for practice, running through different competition scenarios, and getting up to speed. The security-related courses most of us have taken provided a good base for the competition.

The team was a lot of fun this year! We had great chemistry and worked very well together. We were from different majors within Seidenberg, from different years, and with different levels of experience, but we made it work perfectly! I had so much fun spending time with the team and making new friends. We created a lot of great memories and inside jokes that I will remember for many years to come. However, it was not all fun and games because we all worked very hard learning new things and improving our skills. So when we had to get serious and go to work, we did.

I gained quite a bit of technical knowledge by joining this team and I would recommend the competition to any student interested in security. It is a learning process for many so do not get intimidated the way I did at first. You will learn what you need to know along the way. You will also learn how to work as a team and that is a skill an IT professional needs to master!”

The team was supported by the IT Department in Westchester, and was coached by adjunct professors Andreea Cotoranu and John Watkins. Those interested in joining the team next year should get in touch with professor Cotoranu at acotoranu@pace.edu.

JTAG’d by the Law: Phones and Forensics

No phone’s secret is safe from the forensic skills of Seidenberg’s James Ossipov and Dr. Darren Hayes. At first glance, it appears that James is ironing a piece of paper, but what is under the paper is what is helping law enforcement retrieve photos, texts, and various information from most phones—even if it’s deleted.

Dr. Darren Hayes, professor at Seidenberg, and James Ossipov have been working together with a method of evidence extraction called JTAG, which in time could revolutionize the way law enforcement agencies use computer forensics.

James Ossipov

Hayes mentions that, “James is actually working on a project where we are trying to automate something called JTAG. JTAG is accessing user data on a phone when you can’t use traditional methods for extracting evidence from a phone. So, we extract evidence directly from the printed circuit board using JTAG. Sometimes a phone may have encryption, so you need JTAG for that. Sometimes the phone is damaged, for instance, someone may have dropped it in water, and therefore JTAG is your only method to get the phone’s data. JTAG is the only option for examining Windows smartphones.”

JTAG sounds like an amazing innovation to restore information from a phone, even if it is damaged. However, this method is not for everyday use yet — it is primarily used in investigations to retrieve evidence.

CircuitBoard
A circuit board after solution, before it is cleaned with acetone.

“This method is generally only used by law enforcement. Many law enforcement agencies don’t have the capabilities to perform JTAG, so they have to bring in outside experts. What we are trying to do is make it easier for law enforcement by automating the process so more law enforcement agencies can actually use this method of extracting evidence.”

Unfortunately for law enforcement, this method of extracting data cannot be used on an iPhone.

“iPhones are very tricky. They have very good security and are well locked down,” says Hayes. “You can’t perform chip off, meaning you cannot take a memory chip from an iPhone and put it into another phone because all of the firmware, the system software, is mapped to the memory chip. So, if you try to move it to another phone, you won’t be able to access it. But LG phones and Samsung’s are the easiest phones for this process.”

Using the board to look at a phone's NAND
Using the board to look at a phone’s NAND

Computer forensics is advancing every day and Seidenberg is proud to be at the forefront of it all. If you are interested in learning about computer forensic, Dr. Darren Hayes is currently teaching a Cyber Law Class (CIT 363). If you’re not registered for that class, don’t worry—in the fall he is offering a Mobile Forensics course where he will teach how to extract evidence from mobile devices and obtain evidence from third-parties such as Facebook.

Also worth mentioning is that James also worked on JTAG last semester with two other veterans (David Cano – Navy & Gordon Wildrick III – Marines), and he himself is a veteran of the Army. We’re proud to support our forces and we’re more proud of the work they’ve accomplished with Seidenberg.