For its second year in a row Sunflower Hack is returning – but virtually. This year the hackathon is being hosted once again by Pace Women in Tech, alongside Pace University’s POPTV and Cybersecurity clubs. The event, which will take place on March 13th from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, will be open for registration until March 7th, right before midnight.
Sunflower Hack is open to all participants over the age of 18, regardless of whether they’re enrolled at a university or not. Teams must consist of three to four members to create a hack with this theme in mind: Interaction and Communication. Once your teams are formed, you will have five hours to come up with an idea and a presentation. At the end of the event, a few teams will receive prizes based on different categories, including Best Entrepreneurial Hack, Best UX/UI Hack, and Crowd Favorite. Other potential categories include Best Communication Hack, Best Interaction Hack, and Most “Out-Of-The-Box” Hack.
The Seidenberg community is excited for the success of another engaging hackathon, where participants with various degrees of coding experience are encouraged to join in on the fun. Taking part in this hackathon will be the perfect way to meet new people with common interests, while also developing your programming, designing, and/or presentation skills. For updates on the event, please feel free to check out Sunflower Hack on Instagram, or if you have any questions, they can be answered at email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A majority of Pace University students are now taking some, if not all, of their classes online. The switch earlier this year in March has made many of our matriculating students more than familiar with the concept of remote learning. However, the transition for our first-year students may not exactly be the same. Fortunately enough, our new students have done an amazing job adjusting to this new learning environment. During those few months of online learning throughout the previous semester, in addition to my learning experience over the summer, I’ve accumulated a handful of tips that can be beneficial to my peers here at Pace. Whether you’re a first-year student or not, these tips have the potential to improve the online learning experience of any student for the fall semester.
Tip Number One: Make a Schedule
Building on the advice of one of our earlier articles, having a schedule is essential to keeping track of your work for the following months. In addition to that, using a planner can also make a world of a difference when organizing your tasks for each day. I’ve found that having a calendar makes it easier for me to know when I’m free to catch up on homework, and having a planner allows me to make a list of assignments that need to be tackled each day.
Tip Number Two: Try to Wake Up At a Reasonable Time
Waking up at a reasonable time should not be out of the question, even for online learning. Resist the urge to stay in bed and try waking up early enough to do somewhat of a morning routine. Whether that includes grabbing coffee or doing yoga, having a morning routine should give you enough time to become fully alert for class.
Tip Number Three: Dress Up for Class
Even though classes are online, dressing the part can put you in a more productive mindset for learning. When getting ready, try wearing a piece or two that signifies that it’s time to work. This should be something comfortable, but not too comfortable, that way you don’t feel inclined to crawl back into bed afterwards.
Tip Number Four: Find Proper Lighting
This one is not just for the sake of looking decent during a Zoom call. Lighting has a significant impact on our productivity. If you’re getting ready for class, try to stay in a well-lit area so that you are alert and focused. Dimly lit areas can make you feel sleepy and unmotivated to do work so try your best to avoid them if you can.
Tip Number Five: Use Headphones
If you own a set of headphones, try using them, especially when you’re in a noisy environment. Noise-canceling headphones are especially helpful with blocking out sound so that you can stay focused during lectures.
Tip Number Six: Let Others Know When You’re Busy
If you live with other people, let them know when you’re busy so that they don’t interrupt you while you’re working. One way you can do this is by sharing your schedule with them so that they know in advance when not to disturb you. Or, if you have a room to yourself you can try putting a note on your door to let others know that you’re preoccupied.
Tip Number Seven: Make Time for Yourself
Setting aside time for yourself is one of the biggest keys to being productive. Little things like designating times for work and self-care can help you feel more focused when you’re working and more relaxed when you’re not. Figure out ways to destress and try implementing a few of them into your daily routine.
Tip Number Eight: Unplug When You Can
One of the biggest issues I faced when transitioning to online classes was the burnout from using technology way too much. I was on my laptop for school and work, plus a majority of the ways I de-stressed included the use of my laptop, TV, or Switch. When you can, please try to take a few moments out of your day to do an activity that doesn’t require a screen—like reading a book (paperback or hardcover), going for a walk, playing a board game, etc.
Tip Number Nine: Set Timers When Working
This trick has worked wonders for me during my time in high school up until now. The method I’ll be sharing is heavily inspired by the Pomodoro Technique. When I have an assignment to do, I usually set a timer for about an hour and commit myself to working with no breaks during that time frame. After an hour is up, I take a fifteen to twenty-minute break and then repeat. I find that doing this makes me way more productive than doing work for hours on end.
Tip Number Ten: Boost Your Productivity
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, but still want to get some work done, try doing other tasks that are not as difficult to complete. This should be something easy for you to do both physically and mentally, that way you can still get things done without overworking yourself. If at any point you’re feeling too overwhelmed to do anything at all, then taking a break is certainly the most productive thing you can do.
Online learning has definitely been a learning curve for everyone, however, these tips can help make the adjustment into this new learning environment a lot easier. With so much uncertainty surrounding the continued practice of learning online, growing accustomed to it from now can help normalize its use until it is safe to return to regular in-person classes.
This year, Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems has introduced two new graduate degrees to its list of programs: a Masters in Cybersecurity and a Masters in Data Science. With these new degrees available, students will get a chance to explore concepts they may have previously touched on in other courses regarding computing theory or web security. By pursuing one of these graduate degrees, those wanting to expand their knowledge of these subjects will have the opportunity to learn more about their favorite topics, while also increasing their chances of making a livelihood from them.
Potential Careers With Masters in Cybersecurity and Data Science Programs
With a masters in either cybersecurity or data science, the careers you wish to pursue can expand significantly. If you’re interested in studying cybersecurity, then maybe being a cyber crime analyst or incident analyst is perfect for you. Or, if you decide to study data science, you might consider becoming a data applications architect or a machine learning engineer. Whichever path you choose, the potential careers down below can give you an idea of the jobs you can get with one of these degrees.
Why a Masters Degree in Cybersecurity?
One of the biggest advantages of specializing in cybersecurity is that it expands your list of employers significantly. With a majority of services being held online, especially during the wake of the ongoing pandemic, those with a concentration in web security are needed now more than ever. It is important to know that cybersecurity is necessary for a majority of the applications and services that we enjoy today. For example, it’s essential for securing your financial information when online banking or shopping, and it also ensures the protection of your medical records when using healthcare services. The Cybersecurity Curriculum also includes a variety of electives for students to explore. From classes like Introduction to Homeland Security to Web and Application Security, the range of electives offered helps students study aspects of cybersecurity that most align with their career aspirations.
By the end of this graduate program, students are encouraged to complete their capstone project, which is essentially a real-world test of the knowledge they’ve acquired on cybersecurity. Participating in this project prepares students for the expectations that will be required of them in their future careers. Also, as a way of replicating a team-oriented working environment, students are expected to work together in groups, which will teach them the importance of effective communication, delegation, and compromise.
Why a Masters Degree in Data Science?
Just like cybersecurity, data science is becoming increasingly relevant in the online services we frequently use. This field of computer science, which is the application of collected data, is essential to helping organizations know how to further improve their services. These improvements are determined by studying the patterns of the information gathered and assessing the most effective way to utilize it. The Data Science Curriculum here at Pace not only touches on the fundamentals of data science, but it also provides students with the chance to take an elective outside of the given computer science options. This opportunity lets students explore a topic outside of computer science, where data science can still be applicable.
The capstone project at the end of this program is more of an independent course that provides students with the freedom to take their assignment into a multitude of directions. Despite it being a less group-oriented project, assistance and recommendations from the instructors of this course are still an option for students. With this project, students will be tasked with analyzing existing data and determining the best methods needed to identify and solve potential issues. Completing this project will encourage students to make use of their data science knowledge in practical work situations, thus preparing them for a smooth transition into the workforce.
If you have a love for cybersecurity or data science and want to further your knowledge on these subjects, then pursuing one of these degrees may be perfect for you. Working towards one of these graduate degrees can open up a wealth of opportunities. Becoming an expert in your field can make you much more marketable to employers, and it can increase your chances of being promoted to higher-paying positions. If you’re interested in learning more about either of these programs, please feel free to check out Seidenberg’s website for additional information.
On Saturday, February 29th, 2020, Pace University’s Women in Tech club held its first-ever hackathon, Sunflower Hack, on the New York City campus. This would be the second hackathon I attended as a sophomore at Pace. Unfortunately, despite anticipating the event throughout the week, when I arrived I was exhausted from completing an assignment the night before. At that moment, I feared that my lack of energy would prevent me from enjoying a day I’d been eagerly awaiting. However, it wasn’t long before I realized that wouldn’t be the case. Luckily for me, I was fortunate enough to find an amazing group of smart and talented women who uplifted my spirits significantly. What started off as a presumably bad day ended up being quite the opposite. At the end of the hackathon, I left having won best theme hack alongside my newly-found team of Women in Tech members Nia Davis, Muirrin O’Connell, and Abbi Keppler.
During the week of the hackathon, I was so occupied with school, work, and family that it wasn’t until I got there that I realized I forgot one major thing: a team. While a majority of the participants were meeting up with their groups and strategizing, I was scanning the room for potential teammates. Following the opening remarks and an inspirational speech from Pace alumna Olga Bogomolova, I was finally able to start assembling a team. Although initially daunting, the process was actually a lot easier than I thought. Within five minutes I found an amazing team and we jumped straight into business.
After going through multiple ideas, we eventually decided on one that Abbi proposed and immediately got started. Our plan was to create an app called Cultivate that would help promote and encourage productivity in our target audience. Given that there are many apps that provide a similar service, we realized that in order to make ours unique, we needed to offer a noteworthy incentive for our users, something that we knew most people would enjoy. That’s why we agreed on making that incentive plants and animals. By completing tasks and staying productive, the user would then gain points towards buying new gear or upgrading their ideal plant or pet. Since the fundamental purpose of the app was decided on, we began to discuss potential features that could be useful to the app’s development. One such feature that we decided on including was a function that would allow users to sync their app calendar to the calendar on their mobile device, thus making it much easier to keep everything in one place. We also concluded that the app should have a feature that categorizes tasks by levels of priority so users can focus on completing their most important tasks first. During this brainstorming process, it was easy to think of even more useful functions, however, we decided that given the time that we had, it would be smarter to focus on implementing all the necessary features first. Anything else that we were unable to add could always be addressed towards the end of our presentation.
Later, after eight hours of hacking, it was finally time for the presentations. Seeing everyone’s ideas was probably one of my favorite parts about the hackathon because it highlighted the ingenuity of each individual group. In the beginning, we were all tasked with creating a hack centered around the singular theme of authenticity, yet in the end, we all interpreted that concept in multiple ways. Some of us came up with ideas centered around food services and self-help, while others created hacks to help with medical analysis and the early detection of natural disasters.
When it came time for the judges to announce the winners, I had no idea that we’d win one of the prizes. I was just so content with having been able to participate that it didn’t register that we were called until moments afterward. As we went up to receive our grand prize (which by that I mean our portable drives), I realized that it wasn’t just the prize that excited me. I was excited because winning was the last thing on my mind, yet it was definitely the cherry on top of an already amazing day. That night, on the train back home, I left feeling so grateful for the experience I had, along with the reward that came with it. Going to a hackathon is an immensely invaluable experience that I’d encourage anyone to partake in if they can.