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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Seidenberg Junior wins the Northeast-10 Conference Women’s Swimming and Diving Sport Excellence Award for the second year in a row

Swimming and computer science don’t have much in common, but when a Seidenberg student wins an award for academic and athletic success, they intersect quite well. Jana Ciric is a junior Computer Science major and Division II Swim Team member on the Westchester campus. She just earned the Northeast-10 Conference Women’s Swimming and Diving Sport Excellence Award for the second year in a row.

The third-year student explains that she started swimming when she was in the third grade; “when I was a little kid, my parents would take me to Greece every year and all I wanted to do was play in the water. They helped me make the right choice and choose swimming when I was ready to take on a sport.”

Growing up, Jana was on Serbia’s National Swimming Team for four years. During that time, she participated in European regional meets, like the Balkan Junior Championship, where she won the silver medal in the 50-meter freestyle. She was also the captain of the “Sveti Nikola” swimming club in Serbia for six years, helping to coach and organize a team of ten swimmers for practices and swim meets.

She notes that her time swimming for Pace has been excellent, but it definitely differs from her experience in Europe: “at Pace, we have dual meets every week, but very little championship meets (one or two per year), whereas in Europe we have championships more often but have no dual meets.”

https://paceuathletics.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4224
Jana Ciric from Pace U Athletics website

The amount of time she spends with the Pace Swimming and Diving team has allowed her to form close friendships that she considers the most important part of her experience.

“I consider my team to be the closest thing I have to home since I am really far from home,” she explains.

Even with the homesickness that she endures, Jana found time to rack up quite a list of accomplishments. She holds six (out of over 20) of Pace University’s swimming records, earned Dean’s List First Honors for Fall 2018, completed a spring internship as a Junior Programmer/Analyst at Central National Gottesman, and lined up an exciting internship at AQR Capital Management for this summer. She also did all of this while working as a Tutor the Pleasantville Tutoring Center and a Student Assistant for the Athletic Department! Maintaining those records, grades, and workload is not easy.

“I have always had a really good work ethic and determination. Once I set my mind on something, I work really hard until I get it,” Jana notes. “I have unconditional support from my family which has been pushing me to do better every day. Even though they are almost 5,000 miles away they are always with me, helping me to achieve my dreams.”

How does it feel to earn her second straight NE10 Swimming and Diving Sport Excellence Award? Jana says that it “feels amazing,” and rightfully so.

“I am really proud to have won that award again since I put a lot of emphasis on my education. I am a student first and an athlete second. I wouldn’t have even come to the U.S. if it weren’t for my passion for academics and education (as well as swimming). This is why I think this award is so important to me – it really celebrates why all of us are here at college: to get a better education.”

Jana’s success is a success for all of Seidenberg. Her hard work showcases just how possible it is to obtain friendship, accomplishments, and a degree while being a student-athlete, intern, and employee. We’re proud to show off all that Jana does within the Pace community!

Jana would like to note that she really appreciates that Dean Hill and Andreea attend her swim meets and cheer her on. You can always check the swim team schedule to see when Jana will be competing. We’re sure that she’d love to have a crowd there cheering her on.

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

Sukun “Luna” Li

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My top three talks were:

1. HI and AI, by Kyle Oba

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

2. JavaScript is AsynchroWAT?, by Crystal Martin

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

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

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

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

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

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


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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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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!