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!

 

Social Media: a talk with Matthew Knell

Matthew Knell, Tech Mentor-in-Residence and former Head of Social Media Care and Community Programs at Samsung, came to Pace University’s NYC campus for an open discussion on social media with students. The advisory board member and Seidenberg alumnus has twenty-plus years of experience in social strategy, customer experience, and community building. Students were engaged from start to finish—and not just because pizza was provided.

Matthew explained that he came to Seidenberg to share his “knowledge and experiences in a practical way… with the folks here who are learning how to be a professional and… [learning] new skills in the environment.”

Matthew opened the talk by explaining how to survive in the technology industry. His words of advice were wise and concise: “roll with the punches and…be willing to adapt yourself to the roles that exist.”

The discussion moved from current social media trends to the way media affects society, and lastly, to how it will continue to evolve in the future. Students engaged in open discussion and stayed after the event to ask more questions. Matthew explained that he hopes to offer up practical advice to those in attendance.

“As [students are] thinking about what they’re doing with their career and their life, I like to offer a few nuggets of [advice] to help them figure out what they want to do next” he stated.

While adding knowledge and names to your resume is important, gaining practical advice from an industry professional is priceless. Matthew took the time to steer students in the right direction, whether they were interested in social media or not. In an industry where connections and professionalism mean everything, it was a chance for students to understand just what it takes to be a leader.

Matthew noted that these discussions are important as they are a “good opportunity for anyone to grow and learn in their career.”

To wrap up his experience, Matthew noted, “[It was] a very engaging crowd. I think that it was really great to get a bunch of awesome questions. It… demonstrates the quality of the Seidenberg School and their students, and what they’re doing. It’s just fun to come back home and get to meet some new folks.”

We’re lucky to have such an involved alumnus who’s willing to reach out to the Seidenberg community. Make sure to attend future events to gain industry knowledge and much more!

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Melanie Madera is the Glue of the Seidenberg Community

Pace University alumna, Melanie Madera recently took on the new role of Community Manager of the Seidenberg community (aka, the glue of Seidenberg). Last year in May, Melanie began her new position at the Seidenberg School of Computer Science & Information Systems. Her journey from university student to community manager is full of hard work and determination!

She began her college journey at Pace University on the downtown New York City campus in 2002. As a commuter, she worked numerous part-time jobs in order to pay for her education, gaining experience at Nintendo as a Marketing/Sales Associate and at a non-profit assisting children in the foster care system. She went on to earn her BBA in Marketing with a concentration in Advertising and Promotions.

“I will always remember my time at Pace with fond memories,” Melanie notes. “I still get a pang of nostalgia whenever I walk the halls at One Pace Plaza. They were some of the best years of my life!”

Now, as the Community Manager at Seidenberg, Melanie has the opportunity to make the Pace experience better for new students. Asked what her role entails, she quips, “what doesn’t it?”

She handles all of Seidenberg’s New York City campus events and clubs, as well as managing the student assistants at the front desk. She also assists Dean Hill in organizing his schedule and calendar to improve his time management. Overall, she makes the Seidenberg community better by listening to and observing the dynamics of the office.

Melanie explains, “in general, I keep the office going, make sure the faculty is supported and, most importantly, I always make sure that we have coffee stocked in the kitchen. Gotta keep Seidenberg caffeinated!”

 

As for what she brings to the office—besides coffee and an overall sense of community—Melanie believes that she has brought both a sense of organization and transparency.

“My work experience here in the Seidenberg School has been one of the most productive and positive community environments that I have had the pleasure of being a part of,” she explains. “I have to say that the culture here at Seidenberg is unlike any other place I have worked at. I have experience in many work environments: start-ups, small businesses, non-profits, large corporations; but the sense of community and comradery here is really refreshing.”

While she notes marketing as her true passion, she is also “passionate about treating the [Seidenberg] space with respect and to value what [the community has], because [she] feels that it starts with one person; once people see how much care and time you take in making it a great place to work, they tend to follow suit.”

She uses the skills that she learned at Pace to better the community of Seidenberg. “When I have the opportunity to flex my creative muscle and take someone’s vision and make it a reality, it really is a wonderful feeling,” she admits.

As long as Melanie flexes her creative muscles as the Community Manager for Seidenberg, the lounge will always be a safe space for students and faculty. We’re thankful for all that she does for our community and cannot wait for all that she has in store for the future.

“I feel like I was destined to be a part of this team and it feels like I just fit right in; everyone accepted me and is thankful for my hard work and dedication,” Melanie notes. “Everyone here takes pride in their work and in helping students and it shows! I’m really proud to be here and definitely have Seidenberg pride!”

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Pace University Seidenberg students visit IBM for artificial intelligence insights

On October 24th, students from Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems visited the IBM TJ Watson Research Center for an eye-opening field trip into the world of research and tech.

The audience in attendance included faculty, undergraduate and graduate students. One of these students attending was Charlotte Coffin, a senior majoring in computer science, who is currently working on her honors thesis titled, “An Introduction to Quantum Computing using the Number Guessing Game on QISKit.” QISKit is IBM’s open source platform for quantum computing, so the trip was particularly useful for Charlotte!

Student, Charlotte Coffin.

During the trip, students learned about the types of research taking place at IBM and identified potential research collaboration opportunities. IBM’s researchers discussed technological topics including quantum computing, blockchain, IoT wearables, artificial intelligence, and big data analytics.

Students spent the day in Thinklabs, research rooms, and with IBM professionals who introduced them to the real-world version of what they are studying at Pace University. For many students, getting an inside look at a company like IBM was a glimpse at the future.

Tianyu Wang, a PhD Computer Science student nearing graduation, noted that the trip was “a really great experience.” 

“The researchers at the Research Center work on speech recognition, machine learning, natural language understanding, and information retrieval products, among others,” said Tianyu. “I particularly appreciated witnessing the collaborative working environment. The company supports various researchers that work in both small and large teams. I can see the researchers had a great time doing their work; most [of] them were absolutely top-notch and super-accessible and friendly.” 

Tianyu, along with the rest of the group in attendance, also had the chance to see an innovative project in the works by IBM: artificial intelligence generating movie trailers.

“An example of a recent artificial intelligence research project is generating movie trailers automatically using machine learning algorithms,” Tianyu explained. “After training a couple of movies with label data, the program can generate a trailer automatically, within one day. This approach saves the cost of producing a trailer. Through this example, I could certainly see the real implementation of supervised learning solutions, and how artificial intelligence can impact the business.”  

Andreea Cotoranu, Assistant Dean of Academic Innovation at Pace University, highlighted how grateful she and her students were for the field trip opportunity.

 “The Seidenberg School is grateful for its dedicated adjunct faculty, especially Professor Stephan Barabasi, as well as for the passionate and generous team at the IBM Research Center for continuing to facilitate collaboration and discussion on key research topics and promote continued learning within the Seidenberg faculty and student body,” she said.

The IBM trip was another fantastic learning experience provided by the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. Keep your eyes peeled for future events with major technology companies!

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ICYMI: The Seidenberg Tech Leadership Series Fall 2018

There was an exciting lineup at Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems on both the New York City and Westchester campuses during Fall 2018: the Tech Leadership Series! The speakers at the events ranged from the Seidenberg School’s benefactor himself – Ivan Seidenberg – to the chief information officer at Cadillac, Lesley Ma. Students had the opportunity to hear from industry professionals over the duration of the semester. Here’s a recap ICYMI:

Jeff Coffin, “Embedded Linux: What the Heck is it?”

On Oct. 25, Jeff Coffin spoke at the New York City campus at 163 William Street. The Software and Systems Engineer at AJA Video Systems, Inc. appeared in conversation with his daughter, Seidenberg student Charlotte Coffin, to chat about embedded linux (and what the heck it is). Students had the opportunity to speak with Jeff about his many years of experience in the technology industry and network with him as well.

Ivan Seidenberg, “Verizon Untethered: An Insider’s Story of Innovation and Disruption”

The next event took place at the New York City campus on Nov. 8, and this was an exclusive event for all Seidenberg students. Mr. Ivan Seidenberg himself was at the Seidenberg Lounge for a discussion on his book detailing his tenure at Verizon. The former Chairman and CEO of the telecommunications company spoke on the topic titled, “Verizon Untethered: An Insider’s Story of Innovation and Disruption.” The first students at the event had the opportunity to receive a copy of his book.
Peggy Yao, Tech Collective Lunch & Learn: Mindfulness for Professional & Personal Success

On Wednesday, November 14, the Westchester campus hosted the third segment of the leadership series at Goldstein Academic Center. Special guest, Peggy Yao, spoke about mindfulness at the Seidenberg Tech Collective meeting. Mindfulness is a topic not often associated with the technology industry. Students were able to learn tips for a more mindful outlook, network with Peggy, and – as always – enjoy lunch on us.

Lesley Ma, Global Chief Information Officer for Cadillac

On Tuesday, November 27, the Global Chief Information Officer (CIO) for Cadillac at General Motors, Lesley Ma, spoke at the New York City campus. Lesley shared her experiences as a leader at a global firm and fielded questions from students about her career so far. Students received plenty of tips and advice about marketing themselves for cool opportunities and got to network with an industry superstar. We were so excited to present our students with this great opportunity to network and learn from an industry leader.

Merin Joseph, WESTMED Practice Partners and WESTMED Medical Group

The next event in the series was on November 28 at the Westchester campus. Series speaker, Merin Joseph, gave insider experience from her position as Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer at WESTMED Practice Partners and WESTMED Medical Group. Students joined in on this event to get networking experience and tips on how to succeed in their chosen fields. Merin shared a wealth of knowledge earned throughout an exciting career.

Daniel Barchi, Chief Information Officer for New York-Presbyterian Hospital

On Wednesday, December 12, the Chief Information Officer of NewYork-Presbyterian, Daniel Barchi, spoke on the New York City campus for a discussion and networking session with students. We were happy to present our students with this great opportunity to network and learn from an industry leader in the medical and technological fields. Daniel gave a frank and fascinating recounting of his experience as a leader in a dynamic industry, including some exciting stories about narrowly avoided crises.
Did you attend any of our events? We’d love to hear what you thought – and if you have any suggestions on who to invite next, give us a shout in the comments or on social media!

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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.