Zhan Zhang becomes first professor at Pace to earn grants from both NIH and NSF

Dr Zhan Zhang, a member of faculty at the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University, recently made Pace history by earning grants from both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

In his ongoing NSF project, Zhan focused on enabling hands-free data collection and documentation in the field by emergency medical services (EMS) providers with an easy-to-use smart glass application.

The new NIH project investigates care coordination and communication between distributed medical teams – the EMS team in the field and emergency department (ED) teams at the receiving hospital. “The research team will explore how to leverage smart glasses and advanced system interaction mechanisms (e.g., augmented reality and hands gesture recognition) to better facilitate remote patient care guidance,” Zhan said. The scale of the new project is much larger. There are two study sites – New York and Colorado – and both EMS and ED professionals will be involved.

The study will involve the implementation of specially designed glasses that enable EMS professionals to communicate with ED physicians instantaneously. The glasses, infused with internet of things (IoT) technology, use hand gestures and voice control to transmit information efficiently.

Hands using gestures to indicate interaction with the user interface
Various hand gestures, as well as voice control, can be used to interact with the user interface (UI) of the glasses.

“There are two aims of this study,” said Zhan. “In the first year, we will conduct iterative system design and evaluation with both paramedics and ED physicians, using participatory design, rapid prototyping, and usability testing. Then we are going to test the effectiveness of our system using simulated medical events. Paramedics and ED physicians will be invited to use our system to perform patient care.”

Zhan, who joined Seidenberg’s Information Technology department in 2017, specializes in healthcare technology – particularly how computers and technology can be used in helping healthcare professionals communicate and collaborate more efficiently. “My long-term goal is to digitize emergency care with novel technologies to improve patient outcome,” he said.

“This grant is extremely important to me because I have done a lot of preliminary work in this particular problem space since my PhD, and finally, with its support, I am able to use the knowledge I gained over the past few years to build a large-scale novel system that has a great potential to transform current old-fashioned method of pre-hospital communication and care coordination.”

Jonathan Hill, the Dean of the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University, gave his support to the project. He said: “Dr. Zhang is an extremely talented and hard-working individual. He is passionate and popular with students, and a very busy person. When he’s not winning grants for truly exciting healthcare IT research, he’s heading up the new master’s in Human-Centered Design. I am excited to see how his career continues to unfold and trust that he will do great things for the healthcare industry and beyond.”

Furthering the achievement, Zhan is the first Seidenberg faculty member to receive an award from NIH, a nod to the increasing volume of interdisciplinary research taking place at Pace’s technology school.

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Seidenberg celebrates Cybersecurity Awareness Month with stellar alumni panel

On Tuesday, October 19, 2021, the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University hosted an alumni panel dedicated to the topic of the month, cybersecurity.

Facilitated by faculty members Li-Chiou Chen and Darren Hayes, the panel comprised of four alumni who came together over Zoom to share their wisdom and expertise with current students.

Alumni panelists included:

    • Michael D’Angelo, Director of Forensics Operations practice at Driven
    • Pierre Jeppsson, Senior Associate at Ankura Consulting Group
    • Daniel Walker, Senior Intelligence Analyst, Homicide Bureau, Bronx District Attorney’s Office
    • Jasmine Washington, Computer Scientist, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA)

Over the course of the hour long conversation, panelists discussed their current positions, how they got there, and what about their experience at Seidenberg helped prepare them for a career in cybersecurity.

The panel was recorded and will be released soon (we’ll update this post when it is). In the meantime, here are some quick answers to pressing questions Seidenberg faculty posed:

What’s the most significant cyber security problem right now in industry or in government?

Jasmine: Supply chain risk – being aware of what third parties you’re connected to and how they are secured . . . another trend is ransomware attacks. We see that really relevant relevant now that we’re doing telework and we’re working from home and we’re doing this education at home

Daniel: Phishing emails, because I know that is still prevalent today. I know a lot of you probably think, Oh, maybe it was done, five years ago, but no today it’s still happening. People are still clicking on links.

As a hiring manager, what do you look for in a candidate?

Michael: I want to find analysts or investigators that . . . maybe don’t know the full breadth of what’s out there and they want to get their feet wet. Even more, they want to be exposed – they want to delve into new topics and continue to learn . . . the ability to go outside of your comfort zone.

What advice do you have for interviewing?

Pierre: For me, It was just the conversations I was having. So, I did like three or four interviews . . . but I didn’t let them interrogate me. They asked me about my life, and I just told my story . . . there wasn’t enough time for them to go “so tell me about some-” you know . . . they hit you with those kind of gotcha interview questions. I was enthusiastic and I really thought a lot about what I would say. I even did some background work, like I went on the Anchor website and I looked at their mission statement and I looked at their their history and what their employees do in the matters that they’ve been involved in and it . . . painted a picture for who I might be talking to and once I knew who I was talking to I could just be myself. You tell them about yourself and and they go “Okay, this is a person I could see working here, somebody I would want to work with.”

The recording of the event will be available soon – we’ll share on Seidenberg social media as soon as it’s up!

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Welcome to Wepptek: the Newest Seidenberg Student-Led Startup

The Seidenberg School of CSIS is ecstatic to announce the emergence of a new student-led startup in our community. Wepptek—started by Seidenberg students Allan Krasner, Manuel Garza, and Isaiah Jimenez—is the up-and-coming business for all of your professional website and app needs.

Allan, Manuel, and Isaiah came up with the idea of Wepptek after acknowledging their collective potential while working together at Seidenberg Creative Labs (SCL) and the Entrepreneurship Lab (eLab). With their mix of managerial, technical, and business skills, they knew they had everything they needed to get everything going.

“The three of us met together for the first time in the eLab without realizing that we would be working much closer together in the near future,” said Allan. “Seidenberg Creative Labs helped the three of us understand how the flow of projects is supposed to work and helped us understand any potential problems that we might run into in the development process.”

While their varied mix of experiences helped this group feel confident to build Wepptek, Allan said that the inspiration for the startup was a long time coming. When Allan took on a Project Management role at SCL at the end of his freshman year, it opened his eyes up to the kind of career he wanted he wanted to build for himself.

“This experience made me realize that I love talking to people, and I’m great at breaking down complicated tasks into small pieces,” said Allan. This being combined with my drive for creating my own company set the gears in motion, but I couldn’t do this on my own.”

Allan said that his co-founders and friends Manuel and Isaiah had the ambition and goals they needed to start their company. Once they got together and realized what they could do, they got off the ground running.

“Our first project was with a charter school consulting firm where they had us create landing pages for them so that they could get their enrollment numbers up, and this happened around the end of January,” Allan said.

Through this process, they came to understand their roles within Wepptek. As CEO, Allan said that he keeps the business running efficiently and smoothly to keep snags out of the process. As CTO, Manuel assists in the direction of the technology used per project. Isaiah works at the COO and has his sights on making sure Wepptek operates properly while also bringing in more clients.

Now they are setting their sights on gathering more projects. The team is currently working on a website for the Union of Adjunct Faculty at Pace (UAFP).

“They currently have a website that got created with WordPress, but it is Wepptek’s job to maintain and add any additional features that get asked of us, such as an internal social media for people that sign up to their website directly,” said Allan.

The group is figuring their communication and workflow as they grow. It has been interesting during the pandemic while they mostly communicate online. However, they succeed in ensuring each project has its full and undivided attention. They hope to expand the business outside of their networks.

“We are constantly thinking about how we can expand and grow our business, and one of the things that we can all agree on is having a huge focus on marketing and promoting ourselves,” Allan said. “So far, most of our clients have been from personal connections that the three of us have established for ourselves, but we also realize that this is only a temporary solution.”

Currently, the team prides itself on having a satisfaction guarantee. Wepptek will work with each of its clients to ensure that each project is clean and professional level.

Are you in need of a professional website or app? Reach out to the team through their website at Wepptek.com

Seidenberg Programs: Information Technology vs. Information Systems

Congratulations to students who have been accepted into Pace University’s Seidenberg School of CSIS! Upon joining our community, one of the first things you’ll likely notice is our wide range of undergraduate and graduate degrees. However, our Information Technology and Information Systems majors are two programs that are often confused with one another. As you may or may not know, Information Technology focuses more on the use of systems to store, retrieve, and transmit data, whereas Information Systems is centered on figuring out the best ways to use the data collected. Knowing and understanding the difference between the two is essential to making the best decision regarding which program you should choose.


WHAT TO EXPECT AS AN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY MAJOR?

Man working at a computer.

As an Information Technology major, you’ll be studying the systems that operate computers, networks, and more. Through the curriculum for this program, students will get to explore a series of fundamental courses in Information Technology. Additionally, you will also get a chance to select an area of focus in IT. These focus areas include security, software development, networking, information management, and computer forensics. However, for those of you who want to take a more liberal approach, you can also create your own interdisciplinary focus.

Security

With a focus in security, you’ll have a brief intro to programming, along with an overview of networking and internet security. Through the programming course, you’ll learn basic operations of Java generally used to solve business and systems-related dilemmas. In addition to correcting system errors, you’ll also be shown how to develop operating systems for various environments.

Software Development

For this concentration, you will be able to take not only one but two courses in programming, which combined will help deepen your overall understanding of coding. In the other courses for this focus, you’ll also get the chance to explore how to analyze and design systems that manage organizations in an effective way.

Networking

Choosing a focus in networking will allow you to take an introductory programming course alongside two other classes that will shape your foundational knowledge of networks and security.

Information Management 

Pursuing this focus will teach you everything you need to know about information management skills, such as project planning and systems testing. In addition to that, you’ll also learn to master the art of developing databases and extracting data for analysis.

Computer Forensics

This concentration will provide you with the knowledge needed to conduct forensic investigations by understanding how to locate and extract permissible digital evidence on computers and other mobile devices. 

WHAT TO EXPECT AS AN INFORMATION SYSTEMS MAJOR?

People sitting down for a discussion.

Students who are interested in Information Systems will learn how organizations utilize data to make sound business decisions. Through the curriculum, you’ll be encouraged to take marketing and accounting-based classes to help make these assessments. Unlike the Information Technology major, this one doesn’t require you to select an area of focus, however, you do get to choose from a series of electives offered through the program. Information Systems does include various IT concepts, but in a way that focuses on how that data is interpreted by people. Outside of the electives provided, the Information Systems major is split into the Information Systems Core and the Information Systems Environment.

INFORMATION SYSTEMS CORE

The Information Systems Core will show you the ins and outs of the computer’s basic components, which will include an understanding of its hardware and how to effectively troubleshoot problems. With this understanding, you’ll then get into the basics of Java with two introductory programming classes. Other topics you’ll explore include global networking and distributed computing. With global networking, you’ll examine the technology used for business telecommunications while also observing case studies between various organizations. Distributed computing will show you the difference between distributed and centralized systems, along with how to address systems-related issues. On top of that, you will also learn how to design, implement, and analyze various systems.

INFORMATION SYSTEMS ENVIRONMENT

The Information Systems Environment courses cover the business aspect of Information Systems. Through financial accounting, you’ll discover the essentials of making sound administrative decisions from a business, government, and nonprofit perspective. Meanwhile, in your managerial accounting course, you will focus more on the implementation of the data collected rather than the collection of data itself. In your other courses, you will be taught basic macroeconomic principles such as economic growth and banking, managerial planning and leadership, and marketing fundamentals like product development, advertising, and sales.

THE TAKEAWAY

Although different, both programs allow students to earn credits for completing a capstone project or interning at an approved worksite. Regardless of which one you choose, both options provide you with work experience that will benefit you upon graduating from either program. With a degree in Information Technology, your career opportunities can range from IT consultant to computer technician and more. Whereas, with a degree in Information Systems, you’ll find that careers in database administration, the healthcare industry, or even the government are within your scope of opportunities. Whichever you decide, we intend to provide you with all the tools and support you need to succeed.

 

Pace University Students Qualify for the 2021 Northeast Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

by Andreea Cotoranu
Clinical Professor, Information Technology

A team of eight Seidenberg students with a passion for cybersecurity, participated in the highly coveted Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, Northeast (NECCDC) qualifier, on January 23, 2021. The ‘core eight’ team included: Logan Cusano (BS in Information Technology ’22 – captain/student coach), Alexander Zimmer (MS in Cybersecurity ’22), Alexs Wijoyo (BS in Computer Science ’22), Kyle Hanson (BS in Information Systems’21), Brendan Scollan (BS in Information Technology ’24), Zachary Goldberg (BS in Information Technology ’22), Andrew Iadevaia (BS in Computer Science ’23), and Aleks Ceremisinovs (BA in Computer Science ’21).

One of the competition goals is to “develop competitor skills to respond to modern cybersecurity threats.” The competition provides a controlled environment for students and challenges them to protect an enterprise network infrastructure and business information system against inherent challenges. The competition environment, called ‘cyber range,’ was virtual, and the communication and collaboration were supported over Discord. Industry professionals moderated the teams; the ‘core eight’ were moderated by Seidenberg alums, and former NECCDC competitors, Andrew Ku (NYC Cyber Command) and John Guckian (IBM).

The theme of this year’s competition was ‘mobility.’ In the qualifier scenario, the ‘core eight’ were part of a news organizations’ internal security team working to administer and secure both data and systems of a regional office in the face of challenges posed by COVID-19. Competing teams were expected to manage the network, keep it operational, prevent unauthorized access, maintain and provide public and internal services.

As part of the competition, a ‘red team’ played the attacker role aiming to compromise the team’s systems. The ‘red team’ launched attacks by making extensive use of bots. Memes and a curated playlist contributed to creating a suspenseful competition atmosphere, which accurately reflected the realities of the battle between the ‘red team’ and the competing teams.

NECCDC Team Discord Groupchat
NECCDC Team Discord Groupchat

As the team captain for the event, Logan Cusano ’22 explained that his role was to assign tasks and secure servers. He noted that his favorite part of his role was seeing new team members “learn an immense amount of information and real-world skills on their assigned operating systems.”

Another team member, Alex Zimmer ’22, explained that he “assisted in our team’s logistical planning as well the preparation of script and reference materials. I also played an active role with our log management on the day of the competition. I found it particularly satisfying when either my materials or advice allowed another team member to overcome an obstacle or properly counter red team actions.”

Alexs Wijoyo ’22, who specialized in Linux operating systems on the team, explained that “the best part of my task was that I was able to get my hand dirty with the tools and operation of the competition. I love these types of things.”

To start, the team had to tame bots with correct command lines to obtain clues and access resources. After that, it was up to keeping systems secure and services up against several rounds of attacks, over five hours.  By round 7, the team had 26/28 services up and running, by round 20 it was down to 11/28, and by round 27, the team rebounded to 17/28. However, by round 41, it was down to 9/28, then up to 15/28 by round 52 –  they were never gonna give those services up! Business tasks, called injects, were as important as keeping services up, especially when competing against great teams. Ultimately, the performance on both technical and business tasks contributed to the team’s qualification to the NECCDC regionals.

NECCDC Team Discord Groupchat
NECCDC Team Discord Groupchat

Alex, who recalled the experience of “the continuous monitoring of the possible attack angles” as a combination of exhilarating and strenuous, explained that the team was ecstatic when they learned of their qualification.

“When I read the news that we had made it to the next round I was elated. I knew the team was capable but this just proved me right,” Logan said of the team’s excitement.

“We love working together and we sure do get a thrill from it,” Alexs chimed in.

Overall, the competition was challenging; however, ‘the core eight’ succeeded to communicate and collaborate, in a virtual environment, under pressure – any IT team would be lucky to have them on board. (Note: for a red team review of last year’s competition and advice for competitors, check Tom Kopchak’s (Hurricane Labs) post.

Seventeen teams from the Northeast region participated in this competition.  Ten qualifying teams, including Pace, will now have the opportunity to participate in the 2021 Northeast Regional CCDC, taking place virtually, March 19-21, through the Cyber Range and Training Center, part of the Global Cybersecurity Institute (GCI) within Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) – the host organization for 2021.

As reported by current and former participants, competitions like NECCDC are some of the most impactful learning experiences. Pace students interested in participating in cybersecurity competitions are encouraged to connect with BergCyberSec, the Pace Cybersecurity Club (Discord: BergCyberSec) to learn of opportunities for training and collaboration.

Are you interested in pursuing a course, a degree, or a career in the exciting domain of cybersecurity? Check the Seidenberg School at Pace University’s cybersecurity course and program offerings here.

Pace University recently launched a Master of Science in Cybersecurity that aims to train the next generation of cybersecurity professionals to join an ever-growing workforce.

Pace University Students Win IBM 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge

It’s our honor to congratulate four Pace University students on winning IBM’s 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge. Three Pace alumni, Ajinkya Datalkar ‘20 (MS in Computer Science), Manoela Morais ‘20 (MS in Financial Risk management), and Chimka Munkhbayar ‘20 (MS in Entrepreneurial Studies), worked in collaboration with one of our current students, Helen Tsai ‘21 (MS in Computer Science), to develop their game-changing project.

The team worked together to develop their app, Agrolly, with the intention of helping farmers with little resources combat issues caused by climate change. Unlike larger farming industries, small farming businesses have limited access to information that can increase their chances of making smarter business decisions. That’s where Agrolly comes into play.

The team’s app provides a low-cost solution to providing farmers with long-term weather forecasts that can be used to make better judgments about the crops they should grow and when they should grow them. Other features of the app include information about crop water requirements, which is dependent on factors such as location, the type of crop, and the stage of the farm. Additionally, farmers can use Agrolly to keep in contact with other farmers and share solutions using a text and image-based forum. Agrolly also has an algorithm in place to calculate most of the risk assessments for farmers using the app.

In response to the team’s major achievement, Seidenberg Dean Dr. Jonathan Hill says, “One of the really exciting things about our team’s win is that it was a combined team of Seidenberg students and Lubin students. One of the great values of a Pace education is that it can be so interdisciplinary. Our technology students benefit from working with students who are being educated in business, the arts, healthcare and the other disciplines at Pace. It makes for a real world experience and it makes for strong, winning teams.” IBM’s Call for Code Challenge offered Pace students of varying disciplines the opportunity to collaborate and make use of their unique skills and assets.

With the development of their app Agrolly, these students have made an impactful step towards addressing climate change, which is becoming more and more of a concerning issue. Our only hope is that their accomplishment inspires more students to make a positive change by finding solutions to real-world problems. Once again, congratulations to Team Agrolly and we hope to see this amazing app grow in both use and development.