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.
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.
From the title of this article, you might be wondering: why would I want to be productive during a time like this? Although it feels like what’s going on will never end, that couldn’t be further from the truth. At some point, things will return back to normal–classes will resume, friends will reunite, and some of us will even return back to find exciting internships and jobs. It may feel like that’s ages from now, but it will happen, and when it does you might want to be prepared. Being productive is hard, however, when you find ways to be productive that are also fun, it becomes a tad bit easier. So, to spare you the trouble of figuring out what those ways might be, here is a list of some fun (yet beneficial) ways to stay productive during quarantine.
1. Virtual Hackathons
One way to stay productive is to attend a virtual hackathon. Although many of us may be more familiar with attending in-person hackathons, it doesn’t hurt to attend a virtual one. Plus with everything going on, a virtual hackathon is definitely much safer to attend. Not only are you doing your part by social distancing, but you’re also doing yourself a favor by putting in valuable coding time. Don’t let your skills get rusty. Take part in something that will build the skills you already have. There are plenty of virtual hackathons to attend, so look into one that might fit you!
2. Coding Activities
This next idea is more of a group effort. If you’re stuck at home with any younger, female-identifying family members who also have an interest in technology, you should try introducing them to Girls Who Code, which is a program that encourages young girls to pursue any potential interest they may have in technology. With the gender gap in this field gradually increasing, it is not only important for us to provide girls with the resources they need, but it is also important that we make them feel welcomed. If you have any time to spare, you can also sit down with your sister, cousin, etc., and walk them through some weekly Girls Who Code At Home Activities. That way you get to help them expand their knowledge while also spending time with them and learning a little bit more yourself.
3. Revamp Your Resume
Despite everything that’s going on, once life returns back to some level of normalcy, we all have internships and jobs to look forward to. That’s why one of the best uses of any free time you have now could be used towards tweaking your resume. Thankfully, there are ways to make that process easier. One of the first steps is to book an appointment for a resume workshop on Handshake. All you need to do is log in with your Pace credentials, click the Career Center tab, and go into Appointments. Another thing you can also do is work on your resume using the Resume and Cover Letter Guidebook before your appointment. Doing so will save you a lot of time and help you complete your resume much faster. Also, please note that in order to apply for internships or jobs through Handshake with Pace, your resume has to be completed and approved by Career Services.
4. Look Into Potential Internships
After your resume is completed and approved, you can start looking into internships on Handshake. Using the website or the app, you can search for internships based on your major and internships based on location. Also, Handshake will show you the employer’s hiring preferences and whether or not your major, year level, or experience matches what they’re looking for.
5. Work On A Project That Interests You
Whether it be an app, a website, or a computer, work on a project that interests you. It can be something that you’re excited to do but also sharpens your technical skills. Being productive and staying motivated are less strenuous when you’re doing something you absolutely enjoy. With all this free time available, you can finally get started on that project you’ve been thinking about. If you don’t have a project idea, think of something you’re passionate about. For instance, if you’re unhappy about something that’s currently going on, maybe you could think of an idea that has the potential to help others. It could be a big and elaborate idea, or it can be small, simple, and to the point. Whatever your idea may be, go for it!
Yes, being productive is important, however, productivity is nothing without peace of mind. If you’re too tired or stressed to be productive, then chances are your work will reflect that. Have a spa day, do some face masks, watch a movie, FaceTime friends, etc. Do what you have to do in order to recenter your mind, body, and soul.
During this unprecedented time, the Seidenberg School of CSIS would like to thank those working on the frontlines to protect the wellbeing of others and we’d also like to send our condolences to families who have lost any loved ones to this outbreak. It is important that during this time we look out and care for one another. For any students struggling to cope with what’s currently going on, here is a link to some tips and resources that you may find helpful.
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.
“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.”
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 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.
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.
Ian Carvalho, a Seidenberg student in the process of obtaining an MS in Computer Science, is a student to watch. The award-winning individual spends his time volunteering and creating apps dedicated to assisting others when he has a free moment. His most recent success came from the Pace AirBnB Pricing Challenge where he won first place!
As an undergraduate student, Ian was fortunate enough to be the recipient of the Brazilian government-funded scholarship, Science Without Borders, which helped him study in the United States for a year. The scholarship led him to Pace University to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees. After obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in 2016, Ian scored a Research Internship with IBM over the summer. When fall rolled around, he decided to stick around at Seidenberg for his graduate education, choosing to pursue a Masters in Computer Science.
So far, Ian has called his time at Seidenberg, “very intense.” As a Graduate student, Graduate Assistant for Dr. Juan Shan, and PIP Design Factory team member, it’s safe to say that his time has been exactly that—but he’s not done yet.
During his time as a Seidenberg student, he’s gone above and beyond in his extracurricular activities. Ian taught a workshop on iOS development in partnership with PCS, won first place in the App Design Contest with the Entrepreneurship Lab for his application Helpteer, and participated at a Humanitarian Hackathon hosted by Google to assist the non-profit, Techo, which seeks to overcome poverty in slums.
Most recently, Ian identifies himself as a volunteer, Agile NYC participant, and a Java tutor. Beyond those activities, he’s a freelance iOS and Game Developer and Senior Software Developer at BRQ Digital Solutions. Plus, he is working on his master’s thesis.
“Currently, I am writing my thesis on applying deep learning to assist medical imaging problems [such] as Breast Cancer detecting and Knee bone segmentation,” he explains.
All of Ian’s successes are considered a win for all of the Seidenberg community, but his first place win for the Pace AirBnB Pricing Challenge is definitely something to recognize.
The challenge was created by Professor Lala and sponsored by INFORMSon the Westchester campus. The goal of the competition, which was held through the platform Kaggle, was to create a machine learning program with the capability to predict the current price of a listing using the given Airbnb data. Students were encouraged to actively participate in order to make their entry the best possible.
“I participated very actively during the last week of the challenge,” Ian explains.
Ian developed an artificial intelligence model to predict rental pricings for Airbnb listings, and his role of actively participating during the last week led to his ultimate victory. But his triumph did not come easily. Ian detailed the process of testing different models to see which achieved the highest performance. In the end, he combined the results of several models to predict the closest result.
“The challenge consisted in analyzing a dataset with more than [just] variables as a number of beds, reviews, amenities, etc. from [an] Airbnb listing. Part of the dataset ([which was] used for training) had the pricing, which the model used to learn patterns,” he explains.
These analyses were not a one and done deal. Ian explains that he had to rework the model many times.
“After learning, the model would try to predict the prices in the testing dataset,” he explains. “Results would then be submitted to Kaggle, that would compare to the real results and assign a score. It sounds simple, in theory, but the work involved many steps and especially because I was working solo, it got very intense at first I would have to clean the data, remove useless columns, fill missing values and encode some of the data in a way that’s understandable to the model.”
The process was long, especially since Ian spent most of the last week of the challenge really cramming to achieve the best result. When he received that win in the end, all of his hard work and maximum effort worth it. When asked about how he felt about winning, Ian summed it up with one word: “amazing.”
“I knew I had a good result because of the way that the competition works. They show a public partial leaderboard and when the competition finishes they disclose the complete result,” Ian explained. “So it could be possible that someone at the first place in the public leaderboard would be placed in second in the final score. So until the last minute, I was trying to improve my model to make sure I would win.”
As for his overall experience, Ian would recommend it to anyone.
“It’s very rewarding. When I first started, I wasn’t expecting to win, as this was my first challenge of the kind, but I got good results and they kept improving with every submission. I learned a lot and it was very fun,” he notes.
Seidenberg students have numerous opportunities throughout the school year to compete in tech challenges, Hackathons, and much more! Make sure you check in with our social media to see what challenges are coming up next.