Student Spotlight: Rebecca D’Agostino attends TensorFlow Dev Summit 2019

Rebecca D’Agostino, a Graduate Assistant and student graduating in May with a Masters of Science degree in Computer Science, is a very accomplished student of the Seidenberg School. In early March, she traveled to California to attend the TensorFlow Dev Summit, a top machine learning conference.

Rebecca was able to attend the 3rd year of this annual summit thanks to a travel grant paid by Google’s Women Techmakers program. The event focused on the release of TensorFlow 2.0, the newest form of the machine learning library created by Google.

According to Rebecca, the two-day summit program consisted of “a lot of talks, programming on the fly, demos, and just meeting the community. Sitting and programming together with the TensorFlow team was pretty cool.”

Rebecca said that one of the best parts of the conference were the gifts attendees received: “we got a really cool gift box that included, among other things, an Edge TPU and a new microcontroller board.”

The gifts will allow Rebecca to extend her knowledge of TensorFlow and Machine Learning in general. While the gifts were a bonus, Rebecca gained a great deal of educational experience at the summit, and she noted that the two days she spent there was a great time.

“I think the whole thing was amazing,” she explained. “Just meeting the team and the community that uses TensorFlow overall, and learning new things I wouldn’t know that were out there [was amazing].”

Rebecca’s time at the summit gave her a chance to further her education and network with other technologists. Seidenberg students have some wonderful opportunities for education both in and out of the classroom. Scholarships are a great way to attend conferences, summits, and much more that lie beyond the classroom. You can check out more scholarships from our previous blog post to find opportunities for yourself!

Follow us on social media for updates!

Seidenberg PhD candidate Sukun “Luna” Li presents paper in Shanghai, wins ‘Best Presenter’ award

Sukun “Luna” Li

Pace University PhD in Computer Science candidate Sukun “Luna” Li was awarded “Best Presenter” at the 2019 International Conference on Pattern Recognition and Intelligent Systems, which took place March 22-24 in Shanghai, China.

This conference discussed artificial intelligence, pattern recognition, and  deep learning. Comprised of two sections – oral presentations and a poster session – the conference brings experts from around the world to present their research and share their discoveries. Luna was invited to give an oral presentation of her PhD research paper, titled “Feature Extraction Method of EEG based Biometrics”, and after giving an excellent presentation, was given the best presenter award.

Luna attributes her achievement to good advice and plenty of practice: “I think the reason I received the award because my research advisor, Dr. Sung-Hyuk Cha, told me a PhD student should not only be good at writing a paper, but also should spend more time on presentation. One of his requirements for me is presenting my research paper with passion and appeal, and I practice as much as I can,” she said.

Pics or it didn’t happen – Luna’s certificates of presentation for the award

Luna’s paper will go on to be published in the Conference Proceeding, which will be indexed by databases including Thomson Reuters, Inspec, El Compendex, and more.

“I am a very shy person on public speaking, especially for English (my second language),” Luna added. “But our school, Seidenberg, gave me a lot of chances to speak in public places, like the Finland and Austria trips for NYC design factory.”

Dr. Jonathan Hill, Dean of the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University, said: “Luna’s achievement is testament to her talent and dedication as a student of Computer Science and a practitioner of Design Thinking. Her research work is incredibly detailed and she has developed truly stellar presentation skills with which to describe her work. Luna is a hard worker and is always willing to go the extra mile. She is a fine representative of the Seidenberg School and one we are very proud of having in our PhD program.”

Sukun Li receives the award from Conference Chair, Prof. Majid Ahmadi, Associate Dean of the University of Windsor, Canada.

My experience at JSConf Hawai’i and how I attended for free

Skimming through Twitter a few months ago a Tweet caught my eye: JSConf Hawai’i was being announced as the latest in the global JSConf series. It’d be happening in Honolulu, Hawai’i in early February, the call for papers (CFPs) had just been sent out, and they were offering diversity scholarships!

Within a couple of weeks, I had submitted a talk proposal and an application for their diversity scholarship. A few weeks after that, I got a reply. My talk hadn’t been selected but I had been awarded a diversity scholarship, which would cover the cost of my flight, hotel, and conference ticket. I was bummed my talk hadn’t been accepted but I was excited to go.

Months later, I found myself sitting in a room surrounded by fellow JavaScript developers getting the lowdown on the days ahead. I was thrilled to be at the conference for many reasons. The organizers made a noticeable effort to reach out to people from underrepresented groups in tech. The conference had an explicit Code of Conduct (COC). Plus ones were invited to some events. And we had the option to defer our swag and opt instead for a donation to be made to Aloha Lives Here charity.

During the opening remarks and via conference handouts the COC was brought up repeatedly and we were reminded to use inclusive language and remain mindful of those around you. This, coupled with great coffee and weather, meant the day started off on a high.

Things took a turn and I found myself on a conference rollercoaster. Speakers and MCs were using “guys” when referring to the audience and “crazy” when describing experiences. These are not inclusive words and can be triggering for some. I was taken aback when it wasn’t addressed, giving the impression the organizers didn’t care.

Along the left-rear wall was a projection of the conference logo on top of a backdrop that shifted constantly. Sitting near it was a mistake. The repeated flickering was distracting and anxiety-inducing.

Overall the talks I attended were great, but it was difficult to remain attentive towards the end of the day. It seemed like lighter topics were reserved for earlier time slots while talks that required more active thinking were held after lunch. Through side conversations and observation, I gathered that many were tuning out towards the afternoon. It didn’t help that there were no talk descriptions provided online or in handouts, which meant you didn’t really know what you were getting into when sitting down. This was not ideal and the first time I’ve encountered this at a talk-driven event.

Given the smaller size of the conference, I expected ample opportunities to speak with people about what they were working on and the tools they were using. Instead, I found myself wanting to run away because everyone else seemed to already know each other, huddled in large enclosed circles deep in conversation. Cue the imposter syndrome! I did end up chatting with a few people, but sadly all my interactions were quick and superficial.

The faltering on language usage and lack of thoughtful opportunities for people to interact (especially for those of us who are more introverted), affected my experience the most. Having run events and volunteered at many myself, some of these hiccups are notoriously difficult to get right—especially the first time around—while others require specific planning, foresight, and workflow for immediate action.

Conferences can be stressful and difficult at times. If you come in on the first day expecting every experience to be wonderful, you are in for a disappointment. However, the experience is valuable and worthy. At this event, I heard some exciting talks and got to interact with some awesome people. But most of all, I got to experience what it can be like to feel doubt and anxiety and I learned how to overcome those emotions and have a good time!

I loved the diversity in talk topics, speakers, and attendees. I thought the talks played well with each other and there was something to be taken away by people across different skill levels and backgrounds. While my conversations with people left much to be desired, everyone I interacted with was respectful and at no time did I feel unsafe. A total win there!

My top three talks were:

1. HI and AI, by Kyle Oba

Kyle discussed a project he worked on where facial recognition was used to match visitors at the Honolulu Museum with different art objects, whilst explaining the tech behind it in the process.

2. JavaScript is AsynchroWAT?, by Crystal Martin

Crystal talked about all things callbacks, promises, and async/await using female-relatable real life examples.

3. What Tamagotchis can teach you about ES6 generators, by Jenn Creighton

Jenn brought Tamagotchis to the browser and talked about optimization and state management using ES6 generators.

My favorite joke of the conference was from Kyle Oba when he uttered a slightly paraphrased version of: “…python, you know, executable pseudocode,” whilst discussing how it’s used almost exclusively in data science.

If you’d like to attend a conference and maybe even travel for free while improving your coding know-how, here are five conferences offering scholarships in 2019:

Want to speak at a conference? Get help crafting your first talk proposal for a conference or meet-up at an upcoming Global CFP Day. It’s free and held yearly.


Follow us on social media for updates!

Seidenberg goes to the International Conference on Information Systems

During the week of December 13th, 2018, several Seidenberg students and faculty traveled to San Francisco to attend the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS). ICIS, the leading conference in the academic information systems field, is held annually in the middle of December at a new location. Seidenberg community members had the opportunity to travel to California for last year’s prestigious conference.

Attendees of the conference—Dr. Daniel Farkas, Dr. Namchul Shin, Dr. Li-Chou Chen, student Tianyu Wang, Dr. Yegin Genc, and Dr. Isaac Vaghefi—hosted workshops, presented talks, and papers, and won some pretty amazing awards.

Dr. Farkas and Dr. Shin hosted a GIS workshop during the conference. The half-day workshop on Location Analytics and Location of Things brought in scholars from around the world interested in this area to discuss their professional experiences and research.

Left to right: Dr. Namchul Shin, Dr. Dan Farkas and a colleague from University of Redlands, CA, who is one of the co-organizers of the workshop held at ICIS.

Dr. Farkas also worked with Dr. Chen to present a TREO talk on the topic of “Individual Attitude, Trust, and Risk Perception towards Blockchain Technology, Virtual Currency Exchange, Cryptocurrency Transactions and Smart Contracts.” This talk opened up dialogue about each of these subjects at the conference.

Tianyu, who is in the process of obtaining a Ph.D., presented a paper, co-authored with Dr. Chen and Dr. Genc, titled “An N-gram-based Approach for Detecting Social Media Spambots.” Tianyu won the Doctoral Research Award from the PRE-ICIS SIGDSA symposium for the paper.

Lastly, and most impressively, Dr. Vaghefi won an award for the highly competitive “Paper-A-Thon,” in which he competed against 15 international teams. The paper submitted by Dr. Vaghefi, “DIGITAL DETOX? Understanding Users’ Abstinence from Social Network Sites Use,” was selected as the best paper to be presented at the conference. Overall, the paper “embeds a series of mixed-method studies to understand how social network users can take a break from technology and its positive outcomes,” according to Dr. Vaghefi.

With Tianyu’s Doctoral Research Award and Dr. Vaghefi’s winning “DIGITAL DETOX?” paper, Seidenberg had some major wins at the ICIS. The Seidenberg community continues to create leaders in the information systems field.

If you’re interested in attending the ICIS this coming December, get in touch with one of the previously mentioned faculty members and get started on your ideas!

Follow us on social media for updates!

 

 

Nexus Maximus: a Wrap-up of the 2018 Conference

In September 2018, students from Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems presented innovative solutions to problems at Nexus Maximus. In order to showcase their hard work properly, we reached out to some of the students who attended the conference in order to hear about their experiences first-hand.

Nexus Maximus, created by Jefferson (Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University), is a conference which gives undergraduate and graduate students a platform to present innovative projects each year. The 2018 conference opened the minds of students to explore many topics, including improving health care access, designing healthy communities, developing new policies and business models to deliver sustainable value to the community, and building community diversity. According to Jefferson, students had the opportunity to “evaluate and seek innovation that supports the health and well-being of specific local community populations.”

Of the Computer Science, Information Systems, and Information

Technology students who attended the conference—Chinmay Joshi, Ronak Pansara, Ezana Ceman, Joseph Goggin, Kyle Hanson, Naglis Bukauskas, William Bender, Christopher Cherestal, and Laina Posner—two students got in touch with us to discuss their experiences. They outlined what they experienced and highlighted the best portions of the weekend-long experience.

Ezana Ceman, a junior undergraduate student majoring in Information Systems and a New York City Design Factory (NYCDF) Product Innovation Project (PiP) Member, spoke with me about the 2018 conference. She called the event a “fun and innovative experience” and described it as “a unique 3-day team challenge that allows you to step out of your comfort zone and use your talents to create an amazing concept.”

Some of the concepts worked on included strategies to battle food insecurity, homelessness, and much more. While the projects themselves shined a light on the groups’ innovative minds, Ezana explains that recognition wasn’t the highlight.

The best part of the conference is the community participation itself, according to Ezana: “you get to meet students from all around the world and work together to make society a better place.”

Nexus Maximus assists students by giving them the opportunity to learn how to develop and present projects, but the inspiration comes from the students themselves. The willingness to create innovative solutions to communities problems showcases the determination that these students have to create a better world.

Ronak Pansara, a graduate student who will complete his master’s degree in Information Systems in May 2019, also spoke about his experience at Nexus Maximus and the project that his team presented.

Ronak’s team helped people seeking help on NYC streets by giving them detailed and professional signs. He explained that his team’s “project “Signs of Trust” is all about helping homeless people in a unique manner.”

He says further, “This project was inspired by problems arising in many areas. [Their team found that] homeless people were either ignored or people would not trust them as they might not use [the] money for [a] good cause. So that’s why we came up with a unique solution for bridging the gap of honesty and trust.”

“My experience at Nexus Maximus was stupendous,” he states. “It not only helped me building my interpersonal skills, it also helped me in learning new things on how to work with people who were from different [countries].”

Ronak noted that the best part of his overall experience was “how [they] identified [their] individual strengths and weaknesses and how [they] utilized each other by working together in the project.”

“Though we didn’t win any awards, we did get one [non-governmental organization] (NGO) [which] supported our cause for homeless people,” Ronak states. The recognition in itself was a win for the team.

Another team, which included Chinmay Joshi and others, did get recognized with the “Maxime Innovation” award from the conference for maximum innovation. The team worked on a project, titled “Fresh Express”, that tackled how to better deal with food insecurity and waste within the Philadelphia area.

Overall, all of the students experienced growth and success at Nexus Maximus. Both Ronak and Ezana recommend this opportunity to other students. If you’re interested in attending in September 2019, grab some classmates and get to work on the next innovative idea!

Students develop real-world social innovation solutions with Design Factory Social IoT Workshop

On November 30, 2018, the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems held a daylong Social IoT Workshop on the New York City campus.

The workshop, which came with the slogan “innovation development in four hours,” held a contest in which participants worked to develop a fully thought-out product to pitch in just four hours.

The focus was on fixing problems with socially innovative approaches. Students were placed into groups. There were a total of five teams for the workshop. Groups were tasked with coming up with the stigmas and problems associated with five different categories: zero hunger, well-being and security, energy and well-being, mental health, and quality education.

While the design thinking process usually involves five steps: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test, time and budget dictated that this session only used the steps from define to prototype.

Each session during the four-hour workshop lasted from 45-60 minutes. The first session started off with introductions, so each group got to get to know one another first. As a Design Factory event, participants in the workshop hailed from all around the world: alongside our own NYC Design Factory students, we had the company of many participants from Design Factory Korea (DFK), Aalto Design Factory in Finland, DF Javeriana Bogota in Columbia, and Fusion Point in Barcelona. With so many cultures and communication styles together, one thing became clear: working together would be key!

Most groups began the process with a natural instinct involving lots of sticky notes and brainstorming. When it came to deciding team names, one member quipped with humor, “that may be the hardest part.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Pace Seidenberg (@paceseidenberg) on

Once the first session ended, groups presented their finalized idea to a panel of judges. Upon reviewing their ideas with the panels and receiving constructive criticism and praise, the groups had the opportunity to update their designs and plans in the next session.

The last sessions included making presentation plans and prototypes. Each group made either crafted or sketched out prototypes, presentations, and idea explanations for the panelists. Once their pitches and prototypes were finalized, the groups were ready to present to everyone!

The five groups presented radically innovative ideas for each social problem they were assigned. Among these ideas was Ami, a “lifelong smart companion that analyzes and interacts with its user as an emotional support friend.” Another included a heated blanket that monitors body temperature. After each presentation finished, the judges grouped together to determine the winners.

The panelists decided on two winners this workshop, instead of just one. Team “Guardians of Data,” who worked on creating an anonymous platform for patients and physicians, and the team that worked on a malnutrition detection machine were declared the overall winners. Congrats, teams!

After the workshop, I talked with Kinnari Jasoliya about her experience being on a winning team. Kinnari, an MS in Computer Science major, said: “It was a good experience, and we had a lot of brainstorming, which really kicked in for us to think of new ideas and also to collaborate with people from different countries as well. We get experience to work with diverse people. We went from start to end for a certain product, so it’s a really good experience to know how a product shapes from a basic idea to a full-grown product.”

Student Zachary Demeglio, a freshman Information Technology major on the Pleasantville campus, also explained what he enjoyed about the Social IoT workshop.

“It was a nice experience being able to work with people around the world that have different ideas, come from different parts, [and] have different experiences that they have had personally, compared to what I have been experiencing here,” said Zachary. “[When] collaborating these ideas, it is actually really cool to see what we can come up with together as a team. I would definitely recommend it for somebody else to do, and I’m going to do it next year as well.”

We can’t wait to host the Social IoT workshop next year, either! Our huge thanks go to Design Factory Korea for working with us to make it happen, and for those of you interested in taking part in this unique experience in Fall 2019.

Follow us on social media for updates!