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.

Follow us on social media for updates!

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!

Recapping MLH Local Hack Day: the 12 hour hackathon

By Kaitlyn Houlihan

On December 2, 2017, over 275 communities from every continent (except Antarctica) simultaneously hosted 12-hour-long hackathons in the 4th annual MLH Local Hack Day, the LARGEST Local Hack Day in the world. Pace University’s Pleasantville campus was just one of those communities, hosting its first ever hackathon in the Stephen J. Friedman Multipurpose Room in Willcox Hall from 9:00am-9:00pm.

Photo via Maxim Vuolle, Pace Photography Club

The idea to participate in Local Hack Day was presented by Seidenberg’s own seasoned hackers Drew Ku (BS Information Systems ’20) and Angel Rodriguez (BS Computer Science ’20), and facilitated by the fantastic Assistant Dean for Academic Innovation Andreea Cotoranu. After a great deal of thought, this terrific trio decided upon setting the theme of the hackathon to social innovation. According to the Canadian Centre for Social Innovation, “social innovation refers to the creation, development, adoption, and integration of new concepts and practices that put people and the planet first. Social innovations resolve existing social, cultural, economic, and environmental challenges.” That being said, it is almost impossible to imagine a more perfect theme for a hackathon! Because of the topic’s broad nature, participants were easily able to find brilliant solutions that better the planet, daily life, communities, and efficiency of everyday tasks.

Photo by Alec Zawadzki

On the day of the event, a total of 11 teams and 41 high school, undergraduate, and graduate students came out as early as 8:30am for this hacking extravaganza. A wide range of skill levels was present, and although beginner-level coder Justin from Mamaroneck High School found the process of developing his own program difficult at first, he felt better with guidance from faculty and student experts. In addition to faculty and student mentors providing assistance throughout the day, workshops were held to accommodate all skill levels. These workshops were led by Ben Longobardi (MEAN Stack), Drew Ku (Python and APIs), Pace alumnus and adjunct professor Dhruv Gandhi (product development and design thinking), and Angel Rodriguez (HTML/CSS).

Photo by Maxim Vuolle, Pace Photography Club

As computer science professor and faculty mentor Dr. Rick Kline noted, “everyone is eating and hacking, which is what we hoped for,” and it couldn’t have been better stated! Hackers and volunteers had plenty of food and coffee to fuel them through the day, from bagels to pizza from Sal’s to spinach and artichoke dip from Applebee’s (a Seidenberg favorite). However, the most important products of the day were most definitely the 11 incredible ideas that were developed by participants and tackled social issues from mitigating climate change to increasing socialization within communities, among others. Drew felt that “the event [best showcased] student independence because of the broadness of the theme of Social Innovation.”

Photo by Timothy Martinez, Pace Photography Club

At 7:00pm, all hackers submitted their projects via DevPost and began pitching and demoing their ideas to an esteemed panel of judges comprised of Chief Executive Nerd of Kool Nerd Club Orane Barrett, Founder and Lead Developer of Swapity Brian Brunos, as well as Seidenberg’s own Andreea Cotoranu and students Blake Hofland, Ben Longobardi, Drew Ku and Angel Rodriguez. Participants had three minutes to pitch and demo their projects. It was so amazing to witness the variety of ingenious solutions that were presented!

Choosing the winners wasn’t an easy task for the judges, especially after seeing all the effort everyone put into ideating and executing their projects throughout the day. However as all competitions go, it had to be done. Awards were given based on various categories, and the winners are as follows:

  • Best web application – Team F (Mamaroneck High School)
  • Best mobile hack – fORAGER (Pace University)
  • Best impact hack – lendme (Pace University)
  • Best designed hack – TutorFinder (Pace University)
  • Best documented hack – Vivlio (Pace University)
  • Hackiest hacker – Spotlite (Pace University)
  • Seidenberg Spirit Award – Pierre-Julien Morange (Team F, Mamaroneck High School)
  • Kool Nerd Award (sponsored by Kool Nerd Club) – Charles (TrunkPool, Pace University)

And, of course, a TON of awesome prizes were given out! Among these prizes were some Amazon Echo Dots, Raspberry Pi computers, board games, two of the coveted Seidenberg sweatshirts, and a Kool Nerd Club hoodie.

Photo by Abby Bonds, Pace Photography Club

Being Pace University’s first ever hackathon on social innovation, this event was undoubtedly a roaring success. Not only was it a blast for everyone who attended (participants, mentors, and staff alike), but it was a tremendous learning experience for all! All day long, participants ideated, collaborated, created, and demoed projects that resulted in marvelous solutions to problems we all face. In doing this, students were able to think outside the box and combine their immense knowledge of technology with their awareness of the world around them and, ultimately, grow intellectually and as global citizens. Which, when you think about it, is exactly the purpose of resolving social issues!

This would not have been possible without the student participants, staff, and volunteers who made this day so memorable. The entire Seidenberg community would like to extend a special thank you to our sponsors: Virginia LeTourneau ‘85, the Seidenberg School of CSIS, Kool Nerd Club, and Swapity. Also, thanks to our student mentors, workshop leaders, judges, and especially to the Pace Photography Club for capturing the event.

Pace Cyber Team racks up points in the 2017 National Cyber League

By Kaitlyn Bestenheider

Throughout the entire month of April 2017, the Pace University Cyber Team competed in the National Cyber League’s first ever spring season competition. The National Cyber League (NCL) started in May 2011 as a platform to “provide an ongoing virtual training ground for participants to develop, practice, and validate their cybersecurity knowledge and skills using next-generation high-fidelity simulation environments.”

The Pace Cyber Team definitely validated their knowledge! In this capture-the-flag style offensive and defensive security competition, each participant had to show proficiency and excellence in all nine of the following categories:

  • Cryptography
  • Enumeration and Exploitation
  • Log Analysis
  • Network Traffic Analysis
  • Open Source Intelligence
  • Password Cracking
  • Scanning
  • Web Application Exploitation
  • Wireless Access Exploitation
Pace Cyber Team: progress as they battled in the final hours of the post-season team competition

Most team members placed individually in either the silver or the coveted gold brackets of the competition going up against the best of the best nationwide. Of the over 2000 competitors only the top 15% will compete in the gold bracket, while the following 35% will make it to silver. This season, 1,891 students/players and 269 faculty/ coaches from 291 two- and four-year schools in 43 U.S. states registered to play in the Preseason/Regular Season.

The Pace Cyber Team also went on to compete in the Silver Bracket of the post-season team competition where they ranked 11th overall in their bracket and placed 27th nationally out of 152 teams from over 108 college/universities in 35 states. The team scored 2,635 points and captured 121 of the challenge flags. For comparison purposes, the national average for this competition was only 1,655 points and just 83 flags.

Pace Cyber Team: 2017 NCL Post Season Extravaganza in Goldstein 321

Even more remarkable, the Pace Cyber Team ranked 1st in their bracket and 4th overall in Wireless Access Exploitation. In addition, the team placed 6th in the silver bracket and 14th overall in Network Traffic Analysis, and 8th in their bracket and 16th overall in Cryptography. Moreover, the team ranked among the top 25 teams in the silver bracket for every challenge category.

Team Captain Kaitlyn Bestenheider said: “I couldn’t have asked for a better team to compete with. We were all strong competitors and had a wide variety of skills. Everyone communicated fantastically, which made it easy for me to share information and delegate tasks to the person whose skills were best suited to the challenge at hand. Our team’s real strength was in its variety of experience and expertise levels. I look forwarded to training and competing again next semester.”

The team competing in the 2017 NCL post-season included:

Kaitlyn Bestenheider (MS/CS ’18), Adriana Aluia (BS/IT ’17), Cesar Castro (BS/IT ’18), Michael Gabriel (BS/IT ’19), Andrew Ku (BS/IS ’20), Norissa Lamaute (MS/CS’17), Benjamin Longobardi (BS/CS’19), and Gabriel Rivera (BS/IT’17).

Congratulations to all for a great performance this season!

The Pace Cyber Team would like to welcome anyone with an interest in cybersecurity to train and compete with us in the 2017 fall season. Contact Andreea Cotoranu, Assistant Dean for Academic Innovation (acotoranu@pace.edu) with questions.

Some of the Pace Cyber Team (January 2017) – back row L to R: Adriana Aluia, Michael Tantalos, Benjamin Longobardi, Andrew Ku, Gabriel Rivera, Mark Rolon, John Guckian; front row: Norissa Lamaute

Want to read more? Check out Kaitlyn Bestenheider’s blog, Kait Tech, for further coverage of the event.

Thanks so much to team captain Kaitlyn for writing this student blog post!

Seidenberg students fight poverty at Google hackathon

hack1On October 8, 2015, a team of Seidenberg students descended on Google HQ for a day of impromptu coding. The event was for a good cause: Techo, a non-profit organization that seeks to overcome poverty in slums, needed some help building an app that would make gathering information about families living in slums easier.

Techo is present in 22 countries in Latin America and works in over 670 slums every single week. It has implemented 450 community working groups thanks to the help of over 80,000 volunteers (with 800,000 volunteers having been involved to date). The organization has built over 105,000 transitional houses and 6,000 permanent houses, which can massively impact the lives of people living in slums. As if all that wasn’t enough, Techo seeks to empower families through education and community-building: 17,000 adults graduated in basic skills training programs and 26,000 children participated in educational programs thanks to Techo.

hack3

Google hosted the event, and representatives from Techo and the television network Univision were there to steer (and record) the hackathon. Pace people present included Jigar Mehta, Dhruvil Gandhi, Virali Jhaveri, Robert Plumly, Vaibhav Dubey, Ethan Garrison, Hana Stanojkovic, Barak Michaely, Eiman Ahmen, Ava Posner, Hardik Patel, Jan Schoepp, Trong Le, Ritesh Pathak, and Preston Rollins.

The problem to solve was as follows: Techo workers collect information about the needs and conditions of the families they help by asking a series of questions. The answers are recorded by hand, and are entered into a database and organized so Techo can establish an action plan. However, due to the strict organization of the questions against the conversational speech style of the interviewees, this method is highly inefficient and keeps Techo from spending more time actually doing the good work.

Seidenberg students were on hand to help fix this problem.

hack2

Techo already has an app that contains the questions, but it needed improvement in order to be efficient. The Seidenberg team split into three groups – one working on the front end, one on the database, and one on the form containing questions itself. Due to the nature of the hackathon, the team only had around 6 hours to work on the project – but they succeeded in improving opening the app, cutting out unnecessary questions and making the usability simpler.

It could be up to Seidenberg Creative Labs to finish the job!

Learn more about Techo and donate!

Pace team takes home the prize at VR Hackathon

Tisch Interactive Telecommunications Program
NYU’s Tisch building where the hackathon was held.

Over the weekend of July 10-12, a team of four Pace students competed against 19 other groups in the NYC Virtual Reality Hackathon, a hackathon that took place as part of the LoNyLa/TimeWave Festival. The Pace team won the Best Wow Factor VR category and brought home a $500 prize!

Pace students and alums Taranjyot Singh Multani (MS CS ’15), Dhruvil Gandhi (MS CS ’16), Avery Leider (PhD CS ’18) and Syed Adil Hasan (MBA Financial MGMT and IS ’16) joined up with Zeev Kirsh, a litigation staff attorney at Paul, Weiss, and Guilherme Pena Costa, a Brazilian programmer who works at McCann Advertising Agency, whom they had met at a Sony sponsored Mega-Meetup the night before the hackathon. The diverse team used their individual skills to dominate in their category during the hackathon – just the kind of interdisciplinary focus we love to see!

The theme of the hackathon focused on “Mythos and Moxie,” an idea derived from the way technology changes constantly and rapidly while storytelling fundamentals have remained the same. The teams were challenged to create a VR platform that transcends technology and opens up users to a more human experience of storytelling, exploring the possibilities of VR technology while doing so.

The team decided to create a kind of virtual island that would incorporate musical features, which users could alter according to their own liking using their movements. The island played four different kinds of music in each corner, and users navigated the island using the Oculus Rift. Depending on how they moved, the music would change in volume, intensity or balance. Users could move around the island to figure out which kind of music they most wanted to hear. The team had originally planned to make movement possible through Dhruvil’s Leap Motion, but faced a big challenge in getting the software and hardware to interact seamlessly. Eventually, they had to cut out the Leap Motion and focus just on using the Oculus Rift and game controllers for movement. Even so, their product was a great success with each of the five judges.

Taran-Avery-Dhruvil-AdilTaran-Adil-Dhruvil

After all the groups showed off their projects, the Pace team received high praise from their category’s judge Chaki Ng, who is also General Manager for Viacom Labs. He stated that the team had successfully captured the essence of the hackathon with their project, and that their project was the most developed and complete out of the presentations that weekend. It turns out that music is a great way to provide an emotionally tangible experience for a user in a virtual environment. The team was delighted to hear this, especially considering the setbacks they had faced during their project. Nevertheless, their story and their content was strong enough to earn them their prize, and we hope they can continue to build on this project in the future to include all the cool features with Leap Motion that they originally wanted to use!

Sponsors for the event included: EEVOFake Love, SonyFreedom 360Leap MotionLittlstarOculusUnity 3D and VISR.