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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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.”

 

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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.

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The Social IoT Project: Innovative, International, Inspirational

For three consecutive days in November, the Seidenberg community got larger and more upbeat thanks to the visit of friends from places far away. As part of its commitment to provide students with transformative experiences, and to grow innovative and responsible citizens, the New York City Design Factory (NYCDF) at Pace University partnered with Design Factory Korea (DFK) at Yonsei University to pilot a project-based learning experience around the Social Internet of Things (IoT) theme.

The Social IoT Project, led by DFK, aims to encourage students to understand IoT technologies and connect these technologies with UN Sustainable Development Goals. Through this project, students have an opportunity to strengthen their social entrepreneurial skills for the 21st century, including complex problem solving; critical thinking; creativity; and social innovation. Students are encouraged to explore local interpretations of social issues, analyze and design an IoT based product or service, and validate and evaluate the social impact of its business model. As part of the project, student teams at DFK and at the project partner institutions, including Pace University, engaged in specific courses/projects to address a social problem of their choice. The solutions designed by the student teams, which aimed to integrate IoT or artificial intelligence components, were showcased as part of a gala which included project pitches and prototype demonstrations.

The Social IoT Student Gala featured 18 student teams from six design factories across the globe, for a total of 58 students!  In addition to NYCDF (project host) and DFK (project lead), design factory (DF) and institution partners included:  Aalto DF (Aalto University – Finland), Cali DF, DF Javeriana Bogota (Pontificia Universidad Javeriana – Colombia), and Fusion Point (Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya Barcelonatech – Barcelona).

Teams were judged and awarded based on several different criteria. Here are the winners!

  • Social Innovation Award: PeriBear (DFK)
  • Design Innovation Award: Olive (DFK)
  • Digital Social Entrepreneur Award: AgriTech (NYCDF)
  • Judge’s Choice Award: Blood Pressure Project [RBAC] (CDF)
  • Faculty’s Choice Award: VH (DFK)
  • Team Impact Award: Mind Matters (ADF)
  • Industry Award: Marcalli (Fusion Point)

An Innovation Development Workshop led by the DFK team offered students and faculty the opportunity to work together to further iterate on the solutions developed and presented as part of the Gala. For the workshop, teams from different design factories were paired based on common goals. Two team pairs were recognized with the “Innovation Award” for their prototypes:  AgriTech (NYCDF) & Smart Farmers (DFK), and Mirror Mirror on The Wall (NYCDF) & LIKA (DFK).

Last but not least, students and faculty were inspired by visits to NYC-based companies well-known for fostering innovation: SAP America, Intersection, Sidewalk Labs, Boston Consulting Group Digital Ventures and StackOverflow.

The Social IoT Project is one of a series of collaborative projects supported by the Design Factory Global Network (DFGN), a network of innovation hubs in universities and research organizations across five continents. DFGN “is on a mission to create change in the world of learning and research through passion-based culture and effective problem solving. Shared understanding and common ways of working enable Design Factories in the network to collaborate efficiently across cultures, time zones and organizational boundaries fostering radical innovations.”

“Through projects like the Social IoT we aim to plant and nurture innovative thinkers. Students learn by doing and build skills for careers that do not exist yet. The conditions for this kind of learning could not be achieved without like-minded partners such as DFK, the DFGN community, as well as friends from academia and industry. I am grateful to all for their commitment to drive change through passion-based learning in an interdisciplinary, international context,”  said Andreea Cotoranu, Assistant Dean for Academic Innovation and Director of the NYCDF.

On this note, “gomabseubnida” (thank you) DFK, ADF, CDF, DFJB, Fusion Point and the bigger DFGN family for participating in the Social IoT pilot! We look forward to hosting the 2019 edition!

Our thanks also go to Ursuline Foley, and Suresh Kumar (Seidenberg Advisory Board members), and John Lynn, Partner and Co-Founder of The Studio Project, and Seidenberg’s entrepreneur in residence.

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About: The NYCDF is a center for innovation and creative problem solving within the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University. NYCDF welcomes students of all majors, and across New York City and Westchester campuses! 

NYCDF’s most popular projects include courses like Product Development Project (PDP), Product Innovation Project (PIP), and Challenge Based Innovation (CBI). As part of these 7-month long experiences, students travel to Helsinki (Finland), Graz (Austria) and Geneva (Switzerland) to develop solutions for challenges presented by industry clients. However, for students looking to understand what NYCDF is all about, check out CIS102Y Design Thinking and Innovation.

In addition to courses, the NYCDF supports other project-based experiences, such as the four-day Nexus Maximus or the 36-hour RAT Relay for Global Good, all designed to provide students with opportunities to learn by doing.   

Students interested in NYCDF experiences can contact Andreea Cotoranu at acotoranu@pace.edu.

Messy, fun, and rewarding: CIS 102Y Design Thinking and Innovation

A new course is coming to Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems for students who want to be in the room where design and innovation happen.

In Spring 2019, Pace students have the opportunity to take the new course Design Thinking and Innovation. This project-based learning course is offered on both the Westchester and NYC campuses. According to Professor Andreea Cotoranu, who teaches the course on the Westchester Campus, “innovation is something everyone seems to strive for these days. Through this course, students will learn the tools that can help unlock and fuel their creative problem-solving potential, all while working together on problems that matter to them. Just like the creative process, this course experience will be messy, fun, and rewarding.”

Course Description

This project-based learning course introduces students to innovation and problem solving using the design-thinking framework. The course emphasizes complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, communication and teamwork.  The course is a corner stone experience for students in their first or second year at Pace University and is open to all undergraduate majors.

As part of this project-based learning course, students engage in a series of exercises that build upon each other to gain an understanding of the design thinking process including:

  • Gaining empathy to define a problem;
  • Brainstorming to generate creative solutions;
  • Prototyping as a way to represent one or more solutions to show to others;
  • Testing prototypes with the user for feedback.

Students apply the knowledge acquired through these exercises to a team-based project. Projects are based on problems posed by industry clients. Industry clients may include not-for-profit or for-profit organizations. Project deliverables include a mid and end of semester presentation, an electronic or physical product prototype, and written project reflection reports.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • recognize the value of creative thinking;
  • give examples of innovative ideas;
  • apply human-centered design techniques to define a problem;
  • employ ideation techniques to generate creative solutions;
  • recognize the benefits of engaging with students of diverse backgrounds and experiences in the formation of ideas for project solutions;
  • use data synthesis and idea generation to refine problems;
  • prototype, test and iterate a solution with user feedback;
  • use prototyping and storytelling to pitch a solution;
  • demonstrate teamwork in interdisciplinary and self-directed teams

Professor of Information Technology, Dr. Jim Lawler, who teaches the course on the NYC campus, described the course as “an exciting and fun opportunity for students to learn a highly marketable methodology prevalent in entrepreneurial innovative organizations.”

Through this course students will learn about project-based experiences, in particular those offered through the NYC Design Factory.

About NYC Design Factory

The NYC Design Factory is a hub for innovation and creative problem solving housed within the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University. The NYC Design Factory welcomes students of all majors. The most popular courses include Product Development Project (PDP),  Product Innovation Project (PIP), and Challenge Based Innovation (CBI). As part of these courses, students travel to Helsinki (Finland), Graz (Austria) and Geneva (Switzerland) to develop solutions for challenges posed by industry clients. These courses link technology, production, and marketing  Check out the NYC Design Factory website to learn more about our offerings. Are you looking for an exciting course to register for in Spring ’19?  Look no further – register for CIS 102Y Design Thinking and Innovation today!

Seidenberg conducts a Rat Relay for New York City Design Factory

Woohoo! This semester’s Rat Relay was an enormous success! Students from Pace and other universities around the world participated in this exciting hackathon from March 20-23 across four days of innovation and design.

Rat Relay is a four day global design hackathon that is run by the Design Factory Global Network, of which our very own NYC Design Factory (NYCDF) is part. During the event, students from different parts of the world worked on real problems for NGOs, non-profits, or businesses located just about anywhere around the world. Nine Design Factories participated in the challenge, which are: NYCDF, Frisian Design Factory, Melbourne Design Factory, Aalto Design Factory, Porto Design Factory, Cali Design Factory, Bogota Design Factory, Warsaw Design Factory and Ghent Design Factory. Students worked together to define the problem a business may have, and came up with solutions through ideation, prototyping, and testing, before finally presenting their materials.

Rat Relay was held in the Seidenberg Lounge at 163 William Street (with students from other universities around the world participating digitally over Skype!). It was a 36 hour event, which was divided into separate slots of 6 hours each. It worked just like a relay – just as one member passes the baton to the next, participants worked on one aspect of the innovation for 6 hours and when time was up for one slot they handed off their project to another team from another part of the world. The new team then picked up the project where the previous team left off.

Here’s what happened in each part:

Slot 1: Tuesday, March 20th, 3pm-9pm

It started with New York Design Factory. The innovation theme they worked on was EMPATHISE (Getting to know the user). The challenge: how to help students with autism learn how to self-advocate. The sponsors – Tech Kids Unlimited – had come and they spoke to the participants about autism in this slot.

Slot 2: Wednesday, March 21st, 8am-2pm

The project was handed off to Aalto Design Factory in slot 2. The aspect of innovation they worked on was REFRAME (Redefining the problem). The challenge they worked on: how to keep people involved in an environmental campaign.

Slot 3: Wednesday, March 21st, 3pm-9pm

Frisian Design Factory worked in slot 3. The theme was IDEATION (Coming up with possible solutions). The challenge they worked on: what to do with the waste from natural disasters.

Slot 4: Thursday, March 22nd, 8am-2pm

The project went to Melbourne Design Factory for slot 4. The aspect of innovation they worked on was PROTOTYPE (Making designs for solutions). The challenge they worked on: home use for graphene floors.

Slot 5: Thursday, March 22nd, 3pm-9pm

Cali Design Factory continued with project in slot 5. The aspect of innovation they worked on was TESTING (Testing the Prototype). The challenge – how to stop kids from joining guerrilla gangs.

Slot 6: Friday, March 23rd, 8am-2pm

New York Design Factory took the project in the last slot. The aspect of innovation they worked on was PITCHING (Presenting all the created stuff). They presented the challenge: how to help students with autism learn how to self-advocate

By the end of the, the distributed team had come up with a solution: a mobile application named “SPEAK UP STREET”. This app teaches the students with autism how to speak up for themselves in real world situations. The app is designed as a game where users choose between a selection of responses to different types of situations. The app challenges users to play in in-game locations such as at home, at a friend’s house, school, and many other social places. When travelling to these locations, users will encounter various situations where they have to respond to a stimulus. Choosing the right option will explain to them why it is right and it will move them forward in the game. If they choose the wrong answer it will explain why it is wrong and ask them to choose something else or come back to it.

It was wonderful to have such an energetic and enthusiastic event when students had just returned from their Spring Break! Hosted by Dr. Jaclyn Kopel, Director of the Pforzheimer Honors College and Interim Director of the NYCDF, each slot of this Rat Relay was packed with excitement. Participants really enjoyed working with people around the world, and there were 50 unique participants in total. From Pace, both undergraduate and graduate students came from the Seidenberg School of CSIS, the Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Science, the School of Education, and the Honors College.

Getting real world experience working for international companies, working with innovation, improving one’s problem solving skills, and working in international, interdisciplinary teams is a hugely beneficial experience for students. Participants received a certificate saying they worked with 9 international companies and 8 countries. Freshmen and sophomores students had the advantage of getting on the NYCDF radar for the expanded versions that involved travel to other countries (Finland, Portugal, Poland, and Austria).

As always, the Rat Relay was an exceptional event and we can’t wait for the next one in the fall!