Opportunities in Africa 2019: wrapping up the conference presented by the Seidenberg School and Wutiko

Seidenberg’s international connection continues to grow, and the conference that occurred earlier this September is proof of that. On Friday, September 27th, Seidenberg hosted Opportunities in Africa at One Pace Plaza for professionals, students, faculty, and staff. 

The day kicked off with a breakfast and transitioned to the morning ceremony for opening remarks. Dean Hill, Marvin Krislov, Dr. Scharff, and many others expressed gratitude to both the Seidenberg School and Wutiko for bringing this event to Pace University. Upon the completion of the ceremony, gifts were presented to the VIP guests, photo opportunities were had, and connections were made. The rest of the afternoon consisted of panels focused on professionals from Senegal, Mauritius, and Nigeria. Between these events, participants had the opportunity to network and converse with business representatives. Overall, it was a wonderful day for connecting brilliant minds to talk about the future of business and tech.

This event was made possible thanks to the partnership between Wutiko, a professional platform known for connecting individuals to business opportunities in Africa, and the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. 

Kémo Touré, CEO of Wutiko, and Dr. Christelle Scharff, Professor of Computer Science at Pace University, brought this networking opportunity to Seidenberg after meeting at a conference and connecting over their passion for tech and community outreach.

Speakers at the event included C.D. Glin, President and CEO of USADF; Amadou Hott, Minister of Economy, Planning and Cooperation in Senegal; Papa Amadou Sarr, Minister of DER/Senegal, and many more. Important guests ranged from government officials, CEOs, and company founders who were featured at the event. 

Africa is known for its massive economy, which is why this event was so crucial for connecting professionals in NYC to those in Africa. According to Wutiko, Mauritius is the #1 country for doing business in Africa, Nigeria is the continent’s #1 economy, and Senegal is the #1 in hospitality in Africa. Imagine the professional opportunities in the area!

Christopher Cherestal, a Seidenberg senior about to obtain a BS in Information Systems later this year, attended the Opportunities in Africa event last year and was particularly impressed by how the event has grown.

“Seeing it go from such a small space to the Schimmel Center was quite the transformation,” he explains. “It was so cool to see that upgrade.”

We’re so happy we were able to partner with Wutiko for this event. Here’s to bringing it back in 2020! If you missed the conference, you can watch the live-stream provided by Seneweb online.

 

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Building with Accessibility in Mind at Codeland 2019: a Seidenberg student’s story

Luisa Morales, a Computer Science graduate student, has a lengthy list of achievements from her academic career at the Seidenberg School of CSIS. The former Seidenberg student assistant, undergraduate economics student, and Engineering Fellow at the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity curated a resume full of achievements that any student would be proud of.  This summer Luisa went above and beyond—she hosted a workshop at Codeland 2019 titled, Building with Accessibility in Mind.

Codeland, a conference created for new and growing developers, was held in New York City on July 22. Luisa joined a fantastic lineup of workshop mentors and speakers including Avi Flombaum, Co-founder and CIO of Flatiron School, and Jasmine Greenaway, Cloud Advocate at Microsoft. 

Luisa’s workshop called attendees to “come demystify web accessibility with me and get into the nitty-gritty of what it is, how you can test for accessibility on your own, and common best practices. We’ll build an accessible website in the process that you can boast about on GitHub. You’ll also gain practical experience you can utilize to make your current, and future, projects more accessible.”

She explains that her workshop took a very collaborative and hands-on approach with attendees working on demo sites. Everyone in attendance worked in pairs to learn a variety of skills: how to use a screen-reader and keyboard to test website accessibility as well as integrating common practices for improving the accessibility of their projects. 

Asked about specific techniques she teaches her students, Luisa says “this includes things like using semantic HTML, color contrast, font sizes, and ARIA, amongst other things.”

It’s a fair assessment to say that those who learned from Luisa’s workshop earned some crucial and exciting skills to utilize in the future. But where did the idea for the workshop come from?

“The inspiration behind the workshop is my belief in the importance of making the things we produce as developers accessible to as many people as possible and demystifying the idea that it’s too difficult to do or unnecessary,” she explains. “By making a website accessible, you make it better for everyone and increase your potential market share, so I’m not sure why some people think it’s not important. At the Mayor’s Office, it’s ingrained into the development process and a lot of what I’ve learned there is influencing this workshop. I hope that attendees [came] away feeling more comfortable building with accessibility in mind and that it informs their choices as developers, designers, [and] product managers going forward.”

Luisa would like to encourage students—whether they attended her workshop or not—to attend Codeland in the future. She explains that it’s a “very inclusive environment and it’s a great opportunity to meet other people on a similar career path and potentially even your future coworkers!”

Codeland offered an opportunity for Luisa to teach others what she’s passionate about. She had the chance to improve the skills of those in attendance and explains just what that felt like for her.

“I’m proud of how curious and empathetic the workshop attendees were. Building accessible experiences, and especially testing your work with a screen reader, can be overwhelming,” Luisa explained. “Everyone in the workshop was excited to learn how to improve the experiences they created for users online. They were also keen to experience the web as visually impaired users do” by using screen-readers or only keyboards.

While she is proud of her students, Luisa took the time to acknowledge the pride she takes in her own role at Codeland.

“I’m also really proud of myself for putting together the workshop and presenting it at the conference,” she states. “It was very scary to do, but definitely worth the effort and jitters. Would do it again!”

We’re very proud of Luisa here at Seidenberg as well. Students like her who go out of their way to assist other developers to improve their skills are fantastic examples of our community. 

To make things even better, Luisa made sure that her workshop is available online for free! Anyone can access the workshop on GitHub and go through it themselves. She also makes herself available on Twitter for anyone who has questions about her workshop or web accessibility.

Curious about web accessibility? Luisa included some helpful resources for students to check out to learn more. Take a look:

  1. “YES, your site can (and should) be accessible too. Lessons learned in building FT.com” – by Laura Carvajal (https://vimeo.com/215169705)
  2. Tech Done Right Podcast Ep: “Accessibility With Luisa Morales” (https://www.techdoneright.io/49)
  3. Web Fundamentals: Accessibility by Google (https://developers.google.com/web/fundamentals/accessibility)
  4. What & Why Of Usability by usability.gov (https://www.usability.gov/what-and-why/index.html)

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Seidenberg student attends CHASE2018 Conference

A student from Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems had the opportunity of a lifetime when they were chosen to attend a conference in Washington D.C. last fall in September.

Yaodong Du, a  Ph.D. candidate, was chosen by Juan Shan, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science, to attend the CHASE2018 Conference from Sept. 26 to 28.

The conference, titled, The Third IEEE/ACM Conference on Connected Health: Applications, Systems and Engineering Technologies, gave Du the chance to present his and Shan’s work on an advanced research project in the field of medicine. Du explained that the conference is a “leading international conference in the field of connected health, which is related to our research area.”

“[At] the conference, we [presented] our recent work on using [a] machine learning method to analyze 3D MRI images for knee osteoarthritis prediction,” explained Du.

Osteoarthritis, described by the Arthritis Foundation as “the most common chronic condition of the joints,” is currently affecting close to 27 million Americans

The work presented at the conference by Du and Shan is dedicated to diagnosing this degenerative joint disease. Their machine learning method specializes in analyzing 3-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) images to detect osteoarthritis of the knee. This means that their research can help doctors detect the disease before patients experience permanent joint damage.

Along with presenting their own work, Du and Shan had the opportunity to network and listen to other top industry professionals speak about their areas of expertise.

Du says that one of the best parts of the conference was when “many researchers from different institutions stopped by, [asked] questions and discussed.”

“[CHASE2018] widened my sight, and deepened my cognition on the research and my knowledge,” Du explained, highlighting the impact the conference had on him.

Our Seidenberg students are accessing and working with technology that has the ability to innovate and to heal. With brilliant minds and abundant opportunities, Seidenberg students make worthwhile change.

As for the future of their work, Du said, “we will continue our work on exploring useful information to help [in the field of] predicting diseases.”

Du and Shan’s work will continue to carve out a path in the Pace community for other Seidenberg students to follow.

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Seidenberg student wins Airbnb Pricing Challenge on Westchester campus

Ian Carvalho, a Seidenberg student in the process of obtaining an MS in Computer Science, is a student to watch. The award-winning individual spends his time volunteering and creating apps dedicated to assisting others when he has a free moment. His most recent success came from the Pace AirBnB Pricing Challenge where he won first place!

As an undergraduate student, Ian was fortunate enough to be the recipient of the Brazilian government-funded scholarship, Science Without Borders, which helped him study in the United States for a year. The scholarship led him to Pace University to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees. After obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in 2016, Ian scored a Research Internship with IBM over the summer. When fall rolled around, he decided to stick around at Seidenberg for his graduate education, choosing to pursue a Masters in Computer Science.

So far, Ian has called his time at Seidenberg, “very intense.” As a Graduate student, Graduate Assistant for Dr. Juan Shan, and PIP Design Factory team member, it’s safe to say that his time has been exactly that—but he’s not done yet.

During his time as a Seidenberg student, he’s gone above and beyond in his extracurricular activities. Ian taught a workshop on iOS development in partnership with PCS, won first place in the App Design Contest with the Entrepreneurship Lab for his application Helpteer, and participated at a Humanitarian Hackathon hosted by Google to assist the non-profit, Techo, which seeks to overcome poverty in slums.

Most recently, Ian identifies himself as a volunteer, Agile NYC participant, and a Java tutor. Beyond those activities, he’s a freelance iOS and Game Developer and Senior Software Developer at BRQ Digital Solutions. Plus, he is working on his master’s thesis.

“Currently, I am writing my thesis on applying deep learning to assist medical imaging problems [such] as Breast Cancer detecting and Knee bone segmentation,” he explains.

All of Ian’s successes are considered a win for all of the Seidenberg community, but his first place win for the Pace AirBnB Pricing Challenge is definitely something to recognize.

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

The challenge was created by Professor Lala and sponsored by INFORMS on the Westchester campus. The goal of the competition, which was held through the platform Kaggle, was to create a machine learning program with the capability to predict the current price of a listing using the given Airbnb data. Students were encouraged to actively participate in order to make their entry the best possible.

“I participated very actively during the last week of the challenge,” Ian explains.

Ian developed an artificial intelligence model to predict rental pricings for Airbnb listings, and his role of actively participating during the last week led to his ultimate victory. But his triumph did not come easily. Ian detailed the process of testing different models to see which achieved the highest performance. In the end, he combined the results of several models to predict the closest result.

“The challenge consisted in analyzing a dataset with more than [just] variables as a number of beds, reviews, amenities, etc. from [an] Airbnb listing. Part of the dataset ([which was] used for training) had the pricing, which the model used to learn patterns,” he explains.

These analyses were not a one and done deal. Ian explains that he had to rework the model many times.

“After learning, the model would try to predict the prices in the testing dataset,” he explains. “Results would then be submitted to Kaggle, that would compare to the real results and assign a score. It sounds simple, in theory, but the work involved many steps and especially because I was working solo, it got very intense at first I would have to clean the data, remove useless columns, fill missing values and encode some of the data in a way that’s understandable to the model.”

The process was long, especially since Ian spent most of the last week of the challenge really cramming to achieve the best result. When he received that win in the end, all of his hard work and maximum effort worth it. When asked about how he felt about winning, Ian summed it up with one word: “amazing.”

“I knew I had a good result because of the way that the competition works. They show a public partial leaderboard and when the competition finishes they disclose the complete result,” Ian explained. “So it could be possible that someone at the first place in the public leaderboard would be placed in second in the final score. So until the last minute, I was trying to improve my model to make sure I would win.”

As for his overall experience, Ian would recommend it to anyone.

“It’s very rewarding. When I first started, I wasn’t expecting to win, as this was my first challenge of the kind, but I got good results and they kept improving with every submission. I learned a lot and it was very fun,” he notes.

Seidenberg students have numerous opportunities throughout the school year to compete in tech challenges, Hackathons, and much more! Make sure you check in with our social media to see what challenges are coming up next.

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An inside look at a student internship with IBM

Tianyu Wang, a Ph.D. Candidate studying Data Science at Pace University, is a cybersecurity specialist and financial professional in the making. The Seidenberg student has obtained not one, but two Masters of Science in Computer Science and Financial Management as well as a Ph.D. in Philosophy. Now he’s on the path of getting his next Ph.D. in Data Science. His extensive education has brought him numerous roles tailored to his professional career, but his latest role might just be his most impressive: Data Scientist Intern at IBM.

The Westchester campus student worked his way up from the position of Coach for National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) at Pace University to Lab Course Instructor, Teaching Assistant, Research Lab Network Administrator, and finally to where he is now: Graduate Research Assistant. Tianyu has held positions at Mount Sinai Health System as a Data Security Intern and at Human Rights Watch as an Intern in the Department of Finance Operations. Now an internship at IBM is adding to his extensive resume of knowledge and experience. Tianyu had a lot to say about the opportunities he scored through this dream job.

First, it’s important to note what data science is all about. According to Tianyu, the career route consists of three things: math/statistics, coding, and research. While at IBM, he notes that his day-to-day job tasks included “obtaining data, cleaning it, analyzing it and communicating actionable insights for decision making.”

“My impression from data science is that the work is highly intellectually satisfying and the results of your work are highly tangible,” he explains. “It means that there is faster feedback and a highly tangible connection between your work and outcomes.”

Tianyu explains that there are differences between coding for school and coding for work. He notes that “framework should not only solve the problem for a current project but also provide a potential capability to address a similar problem for other teams in the future. For example, codes should easily be extended and adapted for the new functionalities. It should be able to maintain reliability, safety, or security of the new application for the whole team.”

Tianyu explains that being proactive is important, and that “opportunities always come with risks, but it is worthwhile for young people. Continue learning something new [and it] will absolutely lower the risks.”

He also recommends that students should look into the Career Services system: “students would learn a lot from [their] career counselors. Then, get a job and start the path with what you learn from it. Keep refreshed with latest technologies, and keep researching the market requirements. It will help a student stay off [their] comfort zone.”

So stay proactive, learn from your internships and classes, and stay refreshed with the latest technologies and research. There’s a lot that one can do to score that coveted internship with a top tech company. Tianyu’s advice is useful for anyone looking to dive into a high-end technological or financial career. We’re happy to share Tianyu’s story and helpful advice to further your story as well!

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

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

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

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

ClassGo

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

Kitten Klub

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

EzAttend

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

 

Royal Closet

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

Lumattica

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

 

 

Lovescope: The Astrology Dating App

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

translatAR

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

 

Fuse

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

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

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