Fran Berman talks self-driving cars and data stewardship with Women in Tech

Fran Berman visited the Seidenberg Lounge in NYC on April 9th to discuss self-driving cars, data stewardship, and her latest projects on the social and environmental impacts of IoT. She spent time with the student-led Pace Women in Tech club, then sat in conversation with Professor Cathy Dwyer.

Fran Berman is an Edward P. Hamilton Distinguished Professor in Computer Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University, and a Fellow of the Harvard Data Science Initiative.

Fran discussed her latest project which focuses on the social and environmental impacts of IoT. Her focus is on maximizing the benefits of IoT while minimizing risks. The most talked about point was the ethical structure of IoT.

Fran also took the time to explain data stewardship: “[data stewardship] is about creating a home for data that both takes care of it now and takes care of it in the future.”

The distinguished professor’s latest passion is IoT’s potential inflience on cyber/physical-biological systems. She explained that the intersection of the subjects, with the addition of artificial intelligence, is “both an amazing thing and a scary thing.”

Fran illustrated her point using self-driving cars and the ethical thought process behind them. She made the point that a self-driving car has to make the same decisions humans must make while driving, including what to do in instances of an imminent collision.

“Each one of us has an ethical framework,” she said, suggesting that one day perhaps self-driving cars (as an example) would be programmed to make decisions based on the individual’s moral configuration rather than a standardization. IoT could make this possible.

Fran also identified some of the largest issues that graduates will encounter in their careers: industries are not turning to technologists to be leaders, and women are challenged when finding their place in the technology industry. But if Fran can do it, so can any female computer scientist—she’s a living example of female leadership in the technology industry.

As for what the future of technology looks like, “hopefully this is what it looks like,” Fran stated, indicating the many female students in the audience. 

One piece of advice Fran offered was the importance of getting involved. It’s a huge learning opportunity—one that students can truly benefit from.

“If you have clubs here, become an officer of the club,” Fran advised. Becoming a club officer is a notable accomplishment. If you’re excited about something, then you should get involved with it.

“Waking up every day and feeling really excited about what you do . . . that’s another super important thing,” Fran added.

One of the most significant things Fran spoke about was the concept of failure as a good thing. Failure, Fran suggested, is just a part of the process of life. If you mess up, then that’s how you end up figuring out how to do it better the next time. Failure is expected and should be celebrated!

As an example, Fran spoke about her first job. “When I first got there, I had no idea how to do all the stuff I was supposed to do.”

“If you don’t keep at it, you’re never going to figure it out.”

The biggest piece of advice that Fran focused on was a single word: resilience. She outlined the ways that resilience makes a great leader.

“At the end of the day, don’t give up. Find your own heart and passion in it, find a network of people who can go through it with you and support you, be strategic, and be resilient,” she said. “It’s not always easy, but if it’s important to you it’s always worthwhile.”

As for Fran’s time at Seidenberg, she only had good words: “I had a blast. I think everyone here is wonderful.”

We were so lucky to have Fran at the Seidenberg Lounge for this intriguing and empowering discussion. We would like to thank Fran for taking the time to visit our campus for the WiT event.

Keep updated on the Seidenberg socials and follow WiT to hear about future events!

 

Social Media: a talk with Matthew Knell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Become a Mentor

As a freshman, it’s nerve-wracking to explore the Seidenberg community, but there’s a way to help with those nerves. As an upperclassman, you have the opportunity to assist with a freshman student’s transition into the community through the NYC Peer Mentor Program! One of the best ways to get integrated into the Seidenberg community is through the Peer Mentor Program and upperclassmen have the opportunity to help out with that integration. The peer-to-peer communication between mentee and mentor creates a starting foundation for all students who join.

The program, run by Seidenberg advisors Matt Brown and Stephanie Elson, is a newer program at the Seidenberg School. They started it as a way to use the leadership skills of upperclassmen to lead incoming students to success.

Will McNeese, a senior Information Technology major, is one of these peer mentors! He joined the program to help others. Will took the time to talk about who the program is for as well as what being a mentor is all about.

“[The] program is a resource for new students who might need extra guidance in their transition to college,” he explains. “[The program] is also great for second years or higher who like helping people and want to help incoming freshmen with that first-semester anxiety.”

Over the course of the first semester, the freshman mentee and the upperclassman mentor pairs meet and compete in challenges. They also take the time to get to know one another and learn to check in with each other throughout the semester.

Will has gained a great deal from the program, but he explains that the joy of helping others and using his time to make someone else’s life easier are the best parts of being a mentor.

“I’m sure there are lots of students who [are] terrified of being in college and [have] a ton of questions and concerns without any clear place to ask them,” Will explains. “This program is a way for those same students to help make sure somebody else doesn’t go through that [anxiety] (or at least not as badly).”

As for why others should join the program, he notes that prizes can be won by those who complete challenges in the first semester. The prizes Will and his mentee won included a fifty-dollar gift card for Amazon last semester. All members of the program also receive a free t-shirt! According to Will, though, the best part isn’t about the prizes—it’s the networking.

“You…get to meet and connect with a lot of students, and there [are] a lot of industries—especially [within] the tech world—that are based on connections,” he explains.

All in all, the Peer Mentor program is perfect for all NYC Seidenberg students who wish to engage in the Seidenberg community and help others. If you would like to learn more about the program, stop by the information session on April 3rd at 12:15pm during common hour in the Seidenberg Lounge!

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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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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!

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The wait is over: The NYC Master Plan is finished!

Pace University unveiled the long-awaited NYC Master Plan’s revitalization of One Pace Plaza and 41 Park Row on Jan. 28 with a crowd of students, staff, and benefactors in attendance. After a few speeches and cheers from the audience, the ribbon—covered with golden Pace logos, of course—was cut, officially opening the space up to the Pace community. The master plan project, which was completed by FXCollaborative and Sciame construction, began in 2017 just as President Krislov started his term as Pace University’s President. About a year and a half later, the new building now holds a variety of revamped spaces. A new school store, multiple conference rooms, study lounges, elevators, and a small food station now reside in the immense and beautiful building. The unveiling showed off all of these new spaces to the public.

The excitement of the ribbon cutting spread throughout everyone attendance at the unveiling. The event started off with few speeches by President Krislov and others who brought this project to life.

President Krislov’s words rang through the room: “Here in One Pace Plaza, we entirely transformed the place, creating state-of-the-art new learning facilities and student spaces. We opened up walls, opening Pace University to our community. It looks fantastic—and it looks to our future.”

A new conference room within the space.

As soon as the ribbon was cut, a mass of Pace Performing Arts Dance students flooded the room and danced to entertain the audience. Immediately after its completion, attendees flooded into the new space to check everything out. Refreshments and snacks were served, more Pace Performing Arts students kept the crowd entertained with musical entertainment, and totes were handed out as a small gift to those who attended.We will remember this event for a long while because it celebrated a new space for students to grow and create. With the Pace community growing, it’s nice to see that the spaces are growing with it. Check out the new space as soon as possible, because once you check it out, you won’t want to leave.

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