Opportunities in Africa 2019: wrapping up the conference presented by the Seidenberg School and Wutiko

Seidenberg’s international connection continues to grow, and the conference that occurred earlier this September is proof of that. On Friday, September 27th, Seidenberg hosted Opportunities in Africa at One Pace Plaza for professionals, students, faculty, and staff. 

The day kicked off with a breakfast and transitioned to the morning ceremony for opening remarks. Dean Hill, Marvin Krislov, Dr. Scharff, and many others expressed gratitude to both the Seidenberg School and Wutiko for bringing this event to Pace University. Upon the completion of the ceremony, gifts were presented to the VIP guests, photo opportunities were had, and connections were made. The rest of the afternoon consisted of panels focused on professionals from Senegal, Mauritius, and Nigeria. Between these events, participants had the opportunity to network and converse with business representatives. Overall, it was a wonderful day for connecting brilliant minds to talk about the future of business and tech.

This event was made possible thanks to the partnership between Wutiko, a professional platform known for connecting individuals to business opportunities in Africa, and the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. 

Kémo Touré, CEO of Wutiko, and Dr. Christelle Scharff, Professor of Computer Science at Pace University, brought this networking opportunity to Seidenberg after meeting at a conference and connecting over their passion for tech and community outreach.

Speakers at the event included C.D. Glin, President and CEO of USADF; Amadou Hott, Minister of Economy, Planning and Cooperation in Senegal; Papa Amadou Sarr, Minister of DER/Senegal, and many more. Important guests ranged from government officials, CEOs, and company founders who were featured at the event. 

Africa is known for its massive economy, which is why this event was so crucial for connecting professionals in NYC to those in Africa. According to Wutiko, Mauritius is the #1 country for doing business in Africa, Nigeria is the continent’s #1 economy, and Senegal is the #1 in hospitality in Africa. Imagine the professional opportunities in the area!

Christopher Cherestal, a Seidenberg senior about to obtain a BS in Information Systems later this year, attended the Opportunities in Africa event last year and was particularly impressed by how the event has grown.

“Seeing it go from such a small space to the Schimmel Center was quite the transformation,” he explains. “It was so cool to see that upgrade.”

We’re so happy we were able to partner with Wutiko for this event. Here’s to bringing it back in 2020! If you missed the conference, you can watch the live-stream provided by Seneweb online.

 

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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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These Seidenberg graduate students are serving tennis with a new global ranking system

Three former graduate students and current alumni from Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems intrigued Floridian officials with a paper they wrote and presented in Miami in July 2018.

The alumni in the Software Development and Engineering program, Dionysios Kakaroubas, Jesseka Farago, and Stephen Webber, wrote a research paper on the topic of tennis scoring and ranking. Dionysios started the project because of his fascination with the sport.

Dionysios Kakaroubas is standing in front of a railing while holding a bag in his hands. The background is a field with a city view behind a river.
Dionysios Kakaroubas

“I’ve been a tennis fan since I was a little kid, so I know how the system works right now and how the current ranking system is. I know that many fans and players complain about it, so I knew that there were flaws with it. I wanted to develop a new formula so I could make a new version of it to eliminate these flaws,” Dionysios explains. “If you have more losses, [with our system] you cannot be higher up in the rankings. This is happening right now and all of the fans are complaining about it.”

The team developed a new system to improve the way tennis rankings are generated. Instead of using one attribute to determine only rank and scoring, they tested their theory that using the following three attributes would make a better system: abstention, number of tournaments played, and “bonus points for multiple wins in high-level tournaments.”

“We also developed a scenario generator,” Dionysios says. “It is a piece of software that predicts the different outcomes of different rounds of a tournament.”

They presented their software and a paper titled, The Enhancement of the Tennis Ranking System: A Software Solution, in July 2018 at the International Conference of Sports and Society in Miami.

The presentation gained the attention of Mathew Ratner, Associate Director of Sports Tourism at the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. Kakaroubas is currently communicating with Ratner about how to integrate the Pace group’s new ideas into Florida’s tennis ranking system.

After presenting their paper in Miami, the group decided to reach out to a conference in Kyoto, Japan. They were accepted to attend and present at the conference in November of 2018!

The photo itself is a selfie of three people in a car.

In Kyoto, the team presented the latest draft of their research paper titled, An Elaborated Software Solution: The Tennis Ranking System, at the 20th International Conference on Sport Science and Social Science in Sport.

 

“The Kyoto experience was one of a kind. We had the opportunity to meet people who are involved in organizing the Olympics’ tennis Championships for Tokyo 2020,” Dionysios exclaims. “We also discussed Japan having its own national tennis league with a separate ranking system than the World Tour one. That was great feedback for us and our publication. There is a recognition that our work could potentially have a worldwide impact and can be placed in any country, culture, and part of the world.”

The latest version of the paper adds in two more attributes for scoring and ranking: consecutive wins and consecutive losses. The team also accounts for the surface that the game is played on with three different options: clay, grass, or a hard surface. With a total of five attributes contributing to the final score and taking the playing surface into account, the team’s system is stronger than the existing tennis ranking system.

As for the future, Dionysios says that he and the rest of the team are “planning to develop this project. Not just in the paper, but to bring it to real life in a real-life project.”

The team is still in touch with contacts from both Florida and Japan. According to Dionysios, they’re looking to start a new state league within the next year in Miami.

“I am really satisfied and happy with what we have achieved so far. Our paper got and [is] still getting a lot of attention and a promising future seems to be ahead! My idea, our work ethic and efforts seem to pay off!”

As they continue to develop the software, the team will work to make the tennis ranking system better for current and future players. Keep your eyes on their names, because they’re serving the sport with a game-changing product.

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Upcoming Hackathons and Conferences to attend Summer and Fall of 2019

When you ask any technologist, scientist, or industry professional about how they kickstarted their career, they’ll almost always say this: networking. Creating a network of industry professionals, professors, and colleagues can give you better access to prestigious job/internship openings and much more. One easy (and fun) way to grow your network is through attending Hackathons and conferences!

Attending these events can be the best way for students, faculty, and staff of all ages to create a network in the technology industry. Listed below are some upcoming conferences and hackathons that could be the ticket to jumpstarting your own professional career in the world of tech.

 

HACKATHONS:

The Environmental Hackathon by AngelHack is from July 12 through July 13, located in Brooklyn, NY. You can purchase your $10 ticket on Eventbrite in order to compete in the event’s challenge for a grand prize total of $5,000. What do you have to do? Students who enter must “develop a visual machine learning model that deliver accurate alerts for a range of environmental conditions,” according to the ticket listing.

The ConsenSys NYC Hackathon by ConsenSys is a free Hackathon from July 20 through July 21. The event, which is held in Brooklyn, NY, gives the grand prize winner of the challenge $1,500 and allows them to be fast-tracked into consideration for project funding. The challenge criteria subjects are listed on their site: infrastructure L1 and L2, education and technical knowledge, social impact, security, and usability of dev tooling. Snag your free ticket here.

The Voicehacks Hackathon in Newark, NJ, is a free one-day Hackathon on July 22. The challenge is as follows: “this will be a one-day sprint-style hackathon intended to allow developers, designers, product managers, entrepreneurs, and technology enthusiasts up to innovate development in a fast-paced and fun atmosphere where attendees can bring their own ideas to life.” You can get your ticket here.

The Mount Sinai Health Hackathon is held on October 11 through October 13 in New York, NY. According to the site, “it will be an exciting 48-hour trans-disciplinary competition focused on creating novel technology solutions for problems in healthcare. This year’s theme is Artificial Intelligence – Expanding the Limits of Human Performance.” You can check out the event details here.

 

CONFERENCES:

The ICSD 2019 conference is totally free! Join in on the perfect networking opportunity from September 24 to September 25. According to the website, “the aim of the conference is to identify and share practical, evidence-based solutions that can support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” You can get your free ticket for the conference on Eventbrite.

The Silicon Harlem Next-Gen Conference has a much higher price at $75 per ticket, but the Harlem-based event sounds like a blast. On October 17,  “the 6th Annual Silicon Harlem Conference will dive into the rapidly coming new infrastructure driven by 5G technology,” according to their site details.

 

If you attend any of these conferences or hackathons, be sure to let us know how they went! We’d love to hear about your experience and possibly share your story.

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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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