Fran Berman talks self-driving cars and data stewardship with Women in Tech

Fran Berman visited the Seidenberg Lounge in NYC on April 9th to discuss self-driving cars, data stewardship, and her latest projects on the social and environmental impacts of IoT. She spent time with the student-led Pace Women in Tech club, then sat in conversation with Professor Cathy Dwyer.

Fran Berman is an Edward P. Hamilton Distinguished Professor in Computer Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University, and a Fellow of the Harvard Data Science Initiative.

Fran discussed her latest project which focuses on the social and environmental impacts of IoT. Her focus is on maximizing the benefits of IoT while minimizing risks. The most talked about point was the ethical structure of IoT.

Fran also took the time to explain data stewardship: “[data stewardship] is about creating a home for data that both takes care of it now and takes care of it in the future.”

The distinguished professor’s latest passion is IoT’s potential inflience on cyber/physical-biological systems. She explained that the intersection of the subjects, with the addition of artificial intelligence, is “both an amazing thing and a scary thing.”

Fran illustrated her point using self-driving cars and the ethical thought process behind them. She made the point that a self-driving car has to make the same decisions humans must make while driving, including what to do in instances of an imminent collision.

“Each one of us has an ethical framework,” she said, suggesting that one day perhaps self-driving cars (as an example) would be programmed to make decisions based on the individual’s moral configuration rather than a standardization. IoT could make this possible.

Fran also identified some of the largest issues that graduates will encounter in their careers: industries are not turning to technologists to be leaders, and women are challenged when finding their place in the technology industry. But if Fran can do it, so can any female computer scientist—she’s a living example of female leadership in the technology industry.

As for what the future of technology looks like, “hopefully this is what it looks like,” Fran stated, indicating the many female students in the audience. 

One piece of advice Fran offered was the importance of getting involved. It’s a huge learning opportunity—one that students can truly benefit from.

“If you have clubs here, become an officer of the club,” Fran advised. Becoming a club officer is a notable accomplishment. If you’re excited about something, then you should get involved with it.

“Waking up every day and feeling really excited about what you do . . . that’s another super important thing,” Fran added.

One of the most significant things Fran spoke about was the concept of failure as a good thing. Failure, Fran suggested, is just a part of the process of life. If you mess up, then that’s how you end up figuring out how to do it better the next time. Failure is expected and should be celebrated!

As an example, Fran spoke about her first job. “When I first got there, I had no idea how to do all the stuff I was supposed to do.”

“If you don’t keep at it, you’re never going to figure it out.”

The biggest piece of advice that Fran focused on was a single word: resilience. She outlined the ways that resilience makes a great leader.

“At the end of the day, don’t give up. Find your own heart and passion in it, find a network of people who can go through it with you and support you, be strategic, and be resilient,” she said. “It’s not always easy, but if it’s important to you it’s always worthwhile.”

As for Fran’s time at Seidenberg, she only had good words: “I had a blast. I think everyone here is wonderful.”

We were so lucky to have Fran at the Seidenberg Lounge for this intriguing and empowering discussion. We would like to thank Fran for taking the time to visit our campus for the WiT event.

Keep updated on the Seidenberg socials and follow WiT to hear about future events!

 

Seidenberg hosts IBMCyberDay4Girls for middle school girls

The Seidenberg School of CSIS hosted the IBMCyberDay4Girls event on March 28 on Pace University’s Westchester campus. Over 100 middle school female-identifying students attended the event and were introduced to the world of technology and cybersecurity.

According to IBM, the IBMCyberDay4Girls events began in 2016 and have been held in the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Nigeria. The events bring cybersecurity awareness to seventh and eighth-grade girls. IBM sponsors hundreds of events like these each year.

At the event, attendees learned about careers in tech through conversations with IBM professionals. They also learned about college life and STEM majors thanks to a panel of talented Pace students, including computer science majors Ashleigh Brown and Shayna Rosado. And last but not least, the girls had an opportunity to tour our beautiful campus!

Seidenberg Sophomore student, Ashleigh Brown, explained that she “jumped at the opportunity” to be on a panel at the event. The Computer Science major explains how she got involved.

One of my friends from Setters Leadership remembered that I am a part of Seidenberg. Over spring break, she sent a screenshot of her conversation with Alexa Dalbis, who was helping with the event. They needed volunteers who would talk to the girls, so I … emailed Alexa for more information,” Ashleigh explained.

Ashleigh noted that while on the panel, she and the other speakers covered several subjects regarding higher education within the world of technology.

“We talked about life on campus, applying for college, and opportunities in the field of technology,” she explained. “Some of the girls asked some really good questions, such as what you needed to include on your high school resume, residential life, and what skills you learn in computer science overall.”

The discussion gave the young women the change to learn about technology and higher education. Ashleigh noted that the events and panels scheduled for the young students “were educational and helped broaden their knowledge of cybersecurity.”

Getting young women into the field of technology is a step in the right direction, according to Ashleigh.

“There are many young girls who I’m sure are interested in cybersecurity, but most schools either aren’t going into depth about the field, or they don’t introduce the field at all. These girls are luckier than I am to have learned about this field, and computer science in general, at this age,” Ashleigh explained. “Also, because technology is evolving almost on a daily basis, there are new ways being invented for achieving identity theft online. It’s important to know how to protect your personal information, and I truly feel they learned a lot about that from this event.”

The middle school female students left with introductory knowledge of computer science and cybersecurity, but the real goal of the event was to encourage those students to enter the field of technology when they reach college.

Ashleigh expressed her gratitude, stating: “I really appreciate IBM taking time out of their schedule to put this event together and send representatives to Pace, especially since it is such a well-known company. I also applaud Pace for hosting the event and helping to inform young women about the field.”

We want to give a big thanks to Pace University alumni, Alexa Piccoli, and John Guckian, for bringing this event to the Seidenberg community.

Pace Women in Tech is reaching out to young women in technology

There’s a female-central club on Pace University’s New York City campus that all women in technology fields should check out. Pace Women in Tech (WiT) is a Seidenberg organization that empowers young women technologists. WiT is led by President, Jennifer Rhau, and co-President, Sammy Chen Li. We got in touch with Jennifer to learn more about her and the club she heads.

Jennifer explained that she started going to WiT meetings during her first years at Pace: “in Seidenberg, we have a peer mentorship program for all freshman. In this program, one of our assignments is to go to a Seidenberg Club event with our mentor.”

It just so happened that Jennifer’s peer leader from her university introduction class was the then secretary of WiT. She learned about the club meeting from her peer leader and scheduled a time to attend the meeting for a class assignment.

“My mentor ended up canceling, but I went alone and loved the environment the club was based on. So I vowed [at] that first meeting with my friend Tiara to one day ‘rule Seidenberg’ with WiT,” explained Jennifer.

Flash forward to now, and Jennifer is the president of the organization. It seems her vow to “rule Seidenberg” with WiT has come true. But ruling comes with its own challenges.

“WiT has had very rocky beginnings where we met randomly and weren’t very established,” she explained. With her and Sammy’s leadership, the group will continue to strengthen immensely.

“We try to have very informal meetings, [and] we are always set up in a circle. When the [current] board took over this year, we decided our main goal was to create a safe, fun, supportive community. Everyone talks about everything. We just eat and talk, while we (the board) sneakily slip in helpful tools for navigating the workplace and school. In the future, we want to continue sneaking in more opportunities and information,” shared Rhau. “It’s very important to us that we don’t become a monotonous club.”

Under Jennifer and Sammy’s leadership, it is certain that becoming a “monotonous club” is out of the question. They both work tirelessly to make the club open and comfortable for everyone—even though the organization is dedicated to women. According to Jennifer, “everyone can join!” They certainly want everyone to see the work going on in WiT.

“You should join it for the community, but also because we are so supportive. Not only supportive in an emotional friendly way, but we share opportunities we find and things we’ve learned along the way,” Jennifer shared.

Overall, the organization is dedicated to empowering women in the technology industries. Their organization gives a safe space to women navigating an industry dominated by individuals who identify as male.

“It doesn’t always feel like it, but all STEM fields are almost taboo for women. Even [now] it’s so hard to be heard,” explained Jennifer. “Then, when we get farther along we start getting imposter syndrome. It’s always a climb, but if we get enough women into STEM fields, future women won’t have to feel the same way. It will be a norm and no one can say anything to make us feel unworthy.”

Jennifer’s work as president is going towards making sure that the incline for women who have to make the climb into this tough industry gets easier each year. Her vow to “rule” Seidenberg was realized with her current title at WiT. Her newest vow? To leave a legacy behind.

“I would love WiT to leave a legacy in Seidenberg,” Jennifer expressed. “We have another club at Seidenberg called [the Pace Computing Society] (PCS). It is involved in so many activities in Seidenberg. They even hosted the peer mentor project launch! I want that to be [WiT] in the future when I come back to visit.”

WiT will always carry an inclusive legacy, especially under the reign of Jennifer and Sammy. You can join WiT for meetings every other Monday in the Seidenberg Lounge 12:10pm to 1:10pm.

Follow WiT on Instagram (@PaceWiT) to keep up with all of their events!

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Jeff Coffin embeds knowledge in embedded systems talk at Pace University

The Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University welcomed a guest to the Tech Leadership Series for a discussion with Seidenberg students.

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.

Jeff Coffin and daughter Charlotte Coffin – a Seidenberg student superstar – talk tech

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!

Peggy Yao inspires mindfulness through a discussion and lunch at Pace University on November 14

The Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University is welcoming another guest to the Leadership in Technology Series, so get excited.

On Wednesday, November 14, Peggy Yao, the first Mandarin-speaking Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher in the Tri-State area, is coming to the Westchester campus for a Tech Collective Lunch and Learn on “Mindfulness for Professional and Personal Success.” Peggy will be on campus to meet students and impact our School’s community in a positive way.

Yao, an alumna of the Pace University, attended several classes in Pace University’s Lubin School of Business Masters of Business Administration program from 1979 to 1981. She used her learning experiences to grow a lifelong dedication to community service and charity. As an MSBR teacher in Chinese schools and senior centers, local libraries, and the Tzu-Chi Foundation—of which she is an active member—Yao has served the community with her approach on growing stronger personal physical and mental health.

This event comes at a perfect time as the stressful season of midterms has just finished up. Students will have the opportunity to dive into a conversation about mindfulness and mental health with Yao over food provided by the School.

The event will take place at 12:00pm on the third floor at the Goldstein Academic Center. Students will have the opportunity to network and chat with Yao in the Seidenberg lounge.

RSVP here to confirm your attendance.

Seidenberg hits up Grace Hopper Celebration again!

by Kaitlyn Bestenheider

This month, a group of 14 Seidenberg students and staff travelled over 1,000 miles to join 18,000 other attendees at the 2017 Grace Hopper Women in Computing Celebration (GHC) in Orlando, Florida.

With daily opportunities to attend an extensive career fair, interview with top companies, and attend panels on just about any subject you could ask for, the conference was a unique experience for each attendee.

Ava Posner, Olga Bogomolova, Niamh Fitzsimon, Kim Brazaitis, and Svetlana Kotlyarenko travelling in style.

 

A few of the students were able to join the Anita B. Worker Bees and volunteer for GHC. Seidenberg students and leaders of the women in tech club WIT@Pace Kaitlyn Bestenheider (MS in Information Systems), and Elizabeth Molloy (BS in Information Systems) were a part of the team that kept the official historical records of the event for the GHC.

“It was a great experience to know that our perspective would be a lens for future generations of Women in Technology to experience the 2017 conference,” says Kaitlyn. “I was so grateful to GHC for also linking to my blog on all of their social media profiles.”

The keynote speech that really sparked a fire was Melinda Gates. “I really enjoyed Melinda Gate’s Keynote,” said student Linda Zeng, “She stated that it’s time to recognize everybody discovers their interest in tech at different times in their lives, and listening to that has made me so proud to be at Seidenberg, where non-traditional students can thrive and strive for a tech career with all the resources provided to us at the school.”

Her call to action was to ask every person in the room to inspire or encourage just ten women to join or stay in the technology field. If just 2/3 of all attendees made this their goal, over 120,000 girls and women would be affected. That’s more than all of the computer science graduates expected for this coming May.

A truly humbling and enlightening experience, the 2017 Grace Hopper Celebration left its mark on all who attended. Rohana Sosa (BS in Computer Science) summed up the experience perfectly:

“I am forever grateful for Seidenberg providing me with the opportunity to be a Grace Hopper Scholar. The entire experience was amazing,” says Rohana. “It was really fun going to the Icebar to make friends with other GHC ladies from different universities and exchange business cards with executives from companies such as Facebook. I will always remember the laughs, dancing, and fun times I spent with my Seidenberg friends at the career fair, Disney World, and the GHC Friday celebration.”

We already can’t wait for GHC next year. Thanks to Seidenberg student Kaitlyn for this excellent post!