Seidenberg student wins Airbnb Pricing Challenge on Westchester campus

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.

A group photo of the students who participated in the Airbnb Challenge.

The challenge was created by Professor Lala and sponsored by INFORMS on 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.

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Learning to love through astrology and putting color back into the world: software engineering class presents final application projects

While finals can be a stressful time for students each time they come around, they can also be the perfect time to work with classmates on projects they feel passionate about. The season for cramming and test taking can also be an opportunity for collaborative innovation. When the Software Engineering (CS389) class presented their final projects in the Seidenberg Lounge on May 15th, it seemed as though that innovative energy was thriving.

The leading professor for the class, Dr. Shahed Mustafa, reviewed the team projects with assistance from Professor Avery Leider and Dr. Christelle Scharff. The eight groups of undergraduate students presented software applications they created to tackle real-world problems and generate an environment of positivity.

The students worked with Android Studio, Photoshop, Firebase, GitHub, and numerous other applications to bring their ideas to life. The teams created apps in a Scrum framework starting from an idea. Their ideas ranged from a game featuring adorable bartending kittens to a chat room app that helps groups of friends and coworkers find the perfect meeting location. After their ideas were solidified, student groups identified their backlog (the load of work to be completed in the future) and completed a series of three sprints.

ClassGo

The application created by Jacob Hiban, Vivian Ng, and Stephanie Okereke titled, ClassGo, is a buying and selling platform tailored to Pace students. Users can buy or sell used classroom supplies like textbooks, lab materials, and more. The application features a homepage, search bar, selling and buying pages, and a capability to “favorite” the items the user likes best. Future improvements for the application include an updated user interface, homepage, chat, commenting section, and notification settings. These computer science mavens hope that their app can one day be a service that Pace students will choose to use over eBay, Mercari, or even Poshmark.

Kitten Klub

The makers behind Kitten Klub ask, “kittens and alcohol!? Who knew?” Well, they did! The application is a time management game set in the world of cats which was created by Samuel Gellar, Nicholas Vallarelli, Sammy Chen Li, and Anna Marinina. Targeted users play the game by creating drinks for the kittens they are bartending for. The game, which is only available for Apple devices at the moment, has nine levels that increase in difficulty.

EzAttend

The goal of EzAttend is to simplify the attendance taking process. Contributors, Edward Gervis, Raami Sharif, and Ian Groombridge worked together to make a one tap attendance app using Bluetooth. The application allows the teacher to create a class and take attendance, while also allowing students to see their attendance record.

 

Royal Closet

Royal Closet is tailored to the user. The fashion application captures user information, user market recycler view, avatar choice, and measurement comparisons to show the user what a chosen item of clothing could look like on their body by placing a version on their tailored avatar. Krutika Wadha, Tiara Hammond, and Yunting Yin designed this app to help individuals make fashion choices. They hope in the future to make it an inclusive e-commerce app with customizable avatars.

Lumattica

Lumattica is all about “putting color back into the world,” according to creators Austin Halper, Justin Sciglimpaglia, and Aayan Jalal. The app targets people who suffer from color blindness. The app works for both yellow-blue and red-green color confusion. Features include a field view, self-diagnosis, camera, and color quiz.

 

 

Lovescope: The Astrology Dating App

Lovescope: The Astrology Dating App is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a dating app specialized to each astrology sign. Creators Margarita Dominguez, Nick Krawczeniuk, Jennifer Rhau, and Minying He created the application to give users explanations of all planets, houses, and signs. The app integrates user profiles so users can create their own birth chart (gender options include non-binary) and uses a compatibility algorithm to see which users match together best!

translatAR

Yuliya Daroshka, Ivan Tang, Brandon DeLuca, and Jeffrey Cruz are the minds behind translatAR: an app that has the potential to be a direct competitor to Google lens. Its target audience is English speakers who travel abroad each year. The straight forward visual translator app is capable of helping users find the correct word for any object they take a picture of in 26 languages!

 

Fuse

“Meeting up with friends just got a whole lot easier,” according to the minds behind Fuse. The app helps groups meet up at a central and convenient location for all users. Creators Stephan Reyes, Manan Thakkar, Stephanie Philip, Kito Beriens, and Vincent Ajodhia created this app with multiple APIs to incorporate map and group-chat features. Whether a group wants to meet at a restaurant, bar, or park, this app helps them find the best option. This app solves all of those “where should we meet” problems by giving a solution that fits everyone’s needs.

These projects are all products of hard work and collaboration. Make sure to check out each app to fully experience how they function overall by scanning the QR codes on each poster. We’re proud of these software engineering students and what they created in just one semester.

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The Design Factory is the hub of innovation for students at Seidenberg

Pace University’s Design Factory students are always working on global problems that need innovative solutions. The students are teamed up, then have the opportunity to brainstorm and use “design thinking” methodology to take an idea from the drawing board to a working prototype. These students aren’t just dreaming of being the next wave of innovators, they already are.

Laina Posner—a Pace University junior majoring in computer science—has been a summer intern at UPS, a Grace Hopper Conference attendee, and a Pace University Nexus Maximus team member. She is also a design factory student who had the opportunity to go to Helsinki, Finland in October at the Aalto University Design Factory.

“I’ve been working with [the Design Factory] for the past two years, because that’s when [it] officially launched,” Laina states.

Of the Design Factory process overall, she explains: “It’s a big collaboration between different schools all over the country and also the world, but then also different majors as well. So each time I was assigned a project with a different team and I was always given a different task, so it was a great opportunity to become experienced in lots of different things.”

Last semester, Laina had the chance to start working on the PdP team with a start-up company. When she traveled to Finland, she had the opportunity to hear about what her team would be doing for the rest of her junior year.

“When I met them in September, we got a demo, met the team, and met the company. When we go back in May, we will be able to present our product. We’ll be able to see [the process] from start to finish. I’m working on the application part of it where I’ll be designing software to improve the already existing product that they have. Our other teammates will be working on the prototype,” she explains. “Right now I’m assigned on a permanent project where I’ll be working over the year, I’ll be working with a team from Finland with also NYC students. Our project is to work to create a prototype for a company. Our company is Pexray Tech, and they’re looking for a new innovation.”

Pexray Tech is a company that builds portable X-ray systems. The company is looking for a new project, so Laina and the rest of the team are at the forefront of that. The team has completed the beginning stages of the project where planning, research, and getting acquainted with one another is essential.

“It was really cool to have a connection with people that I had really never met over a product for a company that I was just introduced to. We’ve been able to work together since we met for the project, and building connections with other people was really cool,” she states.

Over the past few months, Laina and the rest of the team focused on using “design thinking” to build a working prototype for Pexray Tech. Currently, the team has two months left to create a product for Pexray Tech.

“We are current prototyping our project and in the developmental phase,” Laina explains.

Over the next two months, the team will finalize their product and have the chance to present it to the company. It will be a showcase of their hard work and innovation on a real-world solution.

Now, Laina just wants others to know about the opportunities one can gain through the Design Factory experience. While some students have been working with the Design Factory team for years, they’re always looking to recruit more students. They want more innovators and dreamers who can create solutions to real-world problems with real clients.

“It was very selective, so a lot of people didn’t know about it,” Laina stated of the application process. “I think a lot of students after I told them about it are very interested in it. I wish more people knew about it and more people could experience it, too.  It is an amazing experience. Students are able to use their own personal knowledge of the field and implement their work into a project that they have worked on from start to finish.”

We’re hoping to get the word out about  Pace University’s Design Factory and to get more students aware of this opportunity to innovate! If you’re interested in applying to be a design factory student, sign up for the mailing list!

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Battle of the Bots at Pace University

If watching robots compete to complete tasks entices you, then you should’ve been at Pace University on February 10th. The 10th annual Hudson Valley NY FIRST Tech Challenge championship robotics tournament was held on Pace University’s Westchester campus. The day was full of challenges and innovation for middle and high school students from the Hudson Valley. Only one goal stayed in each of the students’ minds throughout the tournament: getting to the world championship.

The event, run by Dr. Richard Kline and Jill Olimpieri, hosted 27 high school-level teams. The competition brought together the region’s top qualifying teams and their robots to compete in a task-based challenge. Pace University has hosted the regional championship for several years.  Pace University, Pace University Athletics, and IBM sponsored the event.

According to the Hudson Valley NY FIRST Tech Challenge site, “Students in FTC design and build a robot using aluminum, polycarbonate, motors and servos, sensors, and a variety of other materials. They program and control it using Android Smartphones with Java or a Blocks-based graphical language.”

With exclusive scholarships open to competing students totaling more than $80 million, the stakes were high. The challenge to beat this year was “Rover Ruckus,” and teams battled to take the top spots.

According to Dr. Kline, “More than 40 current Pace students and about a dozen alumni, staff, and faculty participated in the event, comprising half of the 100 or so volunteers who banded together to run the competition under the guidance of volunteer coordinator and Seidenberg School staff member Jill Olimpieri. Students contributed in all areas of the competition, from setup and logistics to referees, judges, inspectors, and robot technical advisors.”

Pace students and faculty Sukun Li and Leanne Keeley volunteered as judges for the event. Students Jeana Cosenza, Kyle Hanson, Joel Thomas, and Zach Demeglio, among others, volunteered in various supporting roles. Dean Hill even made a special appearance to cheer on the teams and robots!

Fios 1 News covered the event, giving the young students the chance to feature their efforts on the local news. The coverage inspired and motivated the students to share their experiences and do their best.

At the end of the day, three teams came out on top and will move on to the world championship. Congratulations to Team 6567 – Roboraiders from Red Hook High School, Team 7486 – Suffern Robotics from Suffern Senior High School, and Team 8397 – Beta, from CCE Clinton County 4-H. We wish the best of luck to them at the world championship!

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The Pace Cyber Team Participates in CCDC

The Seidenberg School is proud to share that the Pace Cyber Team participated in the Northeast Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NECCDC) Qualifier on January 26. The team competed from the Goldstein Academic Center on the Westchester campus.

The team is made up of Seidenberg students—Daniel Barr, Andrew Ku, Ryan Kennedy, Benjamin Longobardi, Charlie Adams, Joel Thomas, Cole Patterson, Ryan Nuebel, Ryan Distelhurst, Danny Decarvalho, Mark Rolon, and Ronny Cervante. They worked hard to prepare for the competition and come as far as they did.

Michael O’Rourke, the System Administrator at AQR Capital Management, served as a team judge for Pace University. Dr. Li-Chiou Chen also supported the training of the team throughout the fall and spring semesters by allowing the students to utilize the Cybersecurity Education and Research Lab. The team would like to thank both Michael and Dr. Chen for their time and contributions to the group this academic year. The team would also like to thank their coach, Professor Andreea Cotoranu, who has been working with the team since 2012.

Andreea notes that “throughout the competition the students get real-life experience with hardening systems, handling attacks, and reporting incidents in a high-pressure environment. In training for the competition, the students work on their technical, communication and teamwork skills.”

Andreea continues: “cybersecurity is a team sport yet getting a team of talented, strong-willed students is not always easy. I am proud of what the team has accomplished this season; beyond expanding their technical expertise, the students worked really well together, not only in the Northeast Collegiate Cyber Defense Qualifier but also in the Northeast CAE 

Hackathon where they placed 2nd out of eight teams.”

Joel Thomas, a graduate Computer Science student, first participated in CCDC during his freshman year. He has a lot to say about his experiences with the Seidenberg team.

“What drew me to the competition was the idea of being able to work hands-on with so many different technologies at once. I was really curious about the Information Security field and just what [it] entailed,” he says. “Throughout my years of working in CCDC, I can honestly say it was a great resource for taking my experience beyond the classroom. To not only be able to see what technologies companies are using but also gain hands-on experience.”

Students who gain this hands-on experience working on the Cyber Team gain useful skills to add to their resume and get great experience working on realistic cybersecurity challenges. The team is a great way to engage with the Seidenberg community.

“The team is always looking for new members to help the team grow and continue,” Joel states.

The Cyber Team is always recruiting more students! Are you interested in becoming part of the Cyber Team next season? Get in touch with Andreea Cotoranu!

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Check out Seidenberg’s own Artificial Intelligence Club!

The Seidenberg School’s very own Artificial Intelligence (AI) Club kicked off the new semester with a meeting to gather new members last week. They held a party to welcome new and returning students to the club, and gather ideas for AI projects.

Milind Ikke, the AI Club’s social media chair, explains that the club (which has been active for a while now) was “created by some graduate students with a lot of passion for AI.”

“They wanted to create a community where great AI minds can come together and work towards [solutions to] different projects,” Milind states. “They also wanted to create an AI awareness, [since] AI has become a major part of today’s technology and will continue to grow [over] time.”

Now, the club wants to branch out and involve more of the Seidenberg community. They’re looking to reach individuals with an interest in AI and a willingness to learn from the numerous resources the club provides for its members—like the Tech Talks.

Milind explains that for the Tech Talks, the club “get[s] speakers from excellent AI companies, and they not only talk about what they do in their job but also guide the students on how to achieve their goals.”

Guidance from industry professionals is a fantastic resource for students who are looking to expand their network into the technology industries, so joining the AI Club gets students access to people who can further their careers!

Milind explains that students can benefit from the club in many other ways: “they can benefit from our club by building a community where ideas related to AI are discussed, … learn from the frequent speakers who come and give the talks, … get a platform to share their projects and other research work, … [and present] their work [to] enhance their presentation skills.

If anyone wants to start an AI project but doesn’t really know where to start, that’s where the AI Club comes in! “[Students] can meet people who would like to be a part of their project and can find people who can guide their project,” explains Milind.

If anyone would like to know more about AI in general, the AI Club can help! The club is looking to be an innovative part of the Seidenberg community.

If you’re a student (or faculty member) interested in learning more about what AI is all about, or if you have an idea for an AI project, you are welcome to attend the AI Club’s weekly meetings on Tuesdays at 4:30pm in the Seidenberg Conference Room. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, or email them at aiclub3@gmail.com!

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