Pace Women in Tech host Sunflower Hack

Pace Women in Tech (WIT) hosted their largest event for the spring 2020 semester on February 29th with an incredibly successful turnout: Sunflower Hack. The hackathon took place on the New York City campus at the Seidenberg School where fifty coders and twenty organizers participated in 12+ hours of ideation and implementation.

Once the clock hit 9am, hackers came rushing into the venue to take part in the event. Pace WIT election board members and hackathon hosts, Jennifer Rhau, Sammy Chen Li, Vivian Ng, Minying He, Angela Bonsol, and Rey Kam kept the event running smoothly all day. Volunteers made sure to assist hackers in any way possible. Workshop leaders Dhruvil Gandhi and Olga Bogomolova (along with the Entrepreneurship Lab) kept the creativity flowing by hosting workshops in Design Thinking, Pitching 101, and Android 101.

Sunflower Hack held winners in a total of five known categories and one unknown category which was revealed as the Surprise Prize category. The five known categories were Best Beginner’s Hack, Best Entrepreneurial Hack, Best Theme Hack, Best Technical Hack, and Best Design Hack. The winners of each category are as followed:

Best Beginner’s Hack: Food for All

Best Entrepreneurial Hack: The Trackers

Best Theme Hack: Cultivate

Best Technical Hack: To The Moon

Best Design Hack: College Community

Surprise Prize: DJ & Know Your Skin

This event was a phenomenal opportunity for the Pace WIT members and Seidenberg community members to show off their talents. We’re so proud of all the work Pace WIT put into this event. We look forward to next year’s hackathon! You can check out all of the winning hacks on the SunflowerHack devpost.

We also caught up with Pace WIT e-board members and Sunflower Hack hosts, Vivian Ng and Angela Bonsol, to see how they thought the event went. Check out their interviews below!

 

Why was it important for Pace WIT to host a Hackathon?

Vivian: It was important for Women in Tech to host Sunflower Hack because it was something that we had been planning for over a year. I remember sitting in the Seidenberg conference room a year ago with the rest of the team wracking our brains for possible event ideas and the idea of a hackathon popped up. A year ago, it was just an idea on paper, but a year later, it became a reality. Sunflower Hack was our brainchild and we were going to make sure to see it through. We wanted it to be something that the future board members of Women in Tech could carry on after we graduated. 

 Angela: As a Women in Tech organization, we wanted to host the first student-run hackathon at Pace University. We also just wanted to give a chance to those who have not gone to a hackathon, especially Pace Students, yet to be first time hackers at an environment they are most comfortable with. It was also important for us to share what Women in Tech is all about. Like the theme authenticity, that’s what Pace WiT is all about… No matter how different you are, that doesn’t make you any less or less qualified for you not to reach for your goals and do what you want to do. 

 What did you expect from Sunflower Hack?

 Vivian: When we first started planning out the logistics for Sunflower Hack, I wasn’t expecting much. I had more concerns about it than anything (you can ask anyone else and they’ll tell you the same thing). My biggest concern was if we were going to meet our goal of 60 attendees, but that concern went away the moment I saw people rapidly entering our hacking space. 

 Angela: I really didn’t think I was expecting much, I thought it would happen just [like] a regular hackathon. I don’t know if it was because I was part of the organizing team, but compared to as when I was a hacker myself, Sunflower Hack was just so different. I definitely felt [a sense of] comfort within the hackers. I just really wanted participants to enjoy the event, and learn a few things here and there. Working in teams within a limited time, experiences that could help them in the real world. 

 How do you feel the Hackathon went?

Vivian: Sunflower Hack exceeded my expectations from the moment it started on that early Saturday morning. All the weekly meetings and late nights were worth it seeing just how successful it really was. It didn’t matter how stressed or tired we were at the end of the day; what mattered was that we put forth something that I’m incredibly proud to say I had a hand in. 

 Angela: It definitely went amazing! It went by a lot more smoothly than I imagined. It really warmed my heart when people stopped to tell me how great the event was going, especially for participants because this[the event] was all for them. There was just a lot of love going on. It was interesting to see our picked theme come to live and be envisioned by all these participants. 

What was your favorite part of the event?

Vivian: My favorite part of Sunflower Hack was the closing ceremony where we got the chance to learn a bit more about our judges and watch as prizes were distributed to the winning teams. As an organizer, the most important thing for me was to know that our attendees enjoyed their time with us and each other. To me, Sunflower Hack wasn’t just a networking event for our sponsors and participants, but a unique experience for everyone to learn and develop their skills as well as make lifelong connections. 

Angela: My favorite part of the event was probably watching the hackers do their thing. My feet were tired, but I still kept making rounds around the lounge because I wanted to see what everyone was working on and just asking them on what they’ve created so far. Also, their interpretation of what authenticity means to them was interesting to find out. I felt really active and out there. They were so into it, it felt like a real hackathon you know. It felt special. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Seidenberg community?

Vivian: I strongly encourage students to attend Sunflower Hack in the years to come; any hackathon you come across and are interested in really, but most importantly Sunflower Hack. The idea from the beginning was for it to become a legacy event for all future Women in Tech student leaders and we hope it continues to grow and flourish. We’re incredibly thankful for the support that we received from all of our sponsors and participants. We truly could not have done any of this without you! 

 Angela: I just want to thank everyone who was involved in making Sunflower Hack come to life. I hope they know how we truly appreciate them. I commend my fellow organizers, you can really see the passion we all had in making this event happen. I remember when we just first started organizing this event, it felt like we weren’t getting any done. As time pass by, it was amazing how slowly this event come to life. From just an idea to actually making it happen. I think that was really the message we were trying to get across. If you have an idea, make it happen! There shouldn’t be anything that can stop you! ​There will always be people supporting you! 

Hackathon Survival Guide

If you’re already into the tech scene, then chances are you already know what a hackathon is. However, if you haven’t, the definition of a hackathon is as follows: it is, “a social coding event that brings computer programmers and other interested people together to improve upon or build a new software program.” Hackathons are great for improving your coding skills, learning more about technology, and coming up with ideas that can garner the attention of major businesses. GroupMe is one example of a hackathon idea turned multimillion-dollar acquisition. The prototype, which was created at TechCrunch Hackday, did not win any prizes but it did become successful later on. It was the experience of going that provided the creators with the inspiration needed to conceive the idea of GroupMe. Their success is one of the many reasons you should consider attending a hackathon. If you’ve never attended a hackathon, here are the top 17 tips for surviving your first one.

17 Tips for Surviving Your First Hackathon

1. ARRIVE EARLY

Person Jumping

The best thing you can do for yourself when attending a hackathon is to arrive early. If you’re attending a hackathon that’s a good distance away plan ahead and give yourself enough time to get there. For the most part, hackathons have many participants, all of whom are trying to arrive around the same time as you. Take this into account when planning your departure time and you should be good to go.

2. BE OPEN

Man Opening DoorsIf you decide to work in a team for the hackathon, being open-minded is crucial. There is nothing worse than working with someone who has no interest in understanding your point of view. Teams are a collaborative effort and in order to succeed, you must be willing to compromise.

3. BRAINSTORM BEFORE YOU GET THERE

Person Confused

If you’re given the project before the hackathon even starts, do your research and brainstorm. This saves you the trouble of having to desperately think of an idea on the spot. Instead, you get to focus on successfully implementing that idea in a timely manner.

4. THERE ARE USUALLY PRIZES

Although the experience of going to a hackathon should be enough encouragement to go on its own, it’s also good to remember that there are usually monetary prizes. If not, companies sponsoring the event tend to give away their own products as prizes. For example, at Technica in 2019, VR headsets and Google Home Minis were offered as incentives.

5. BRUSH UP ON CODING SKILLS

Cat Typing Really FastGetting some practice in beforehand is essential for keeping your coding skills sharp. Whether that be Java, C++, HTML, or CSS. Practice whatever language needed to implement your project successfully. Websites like Codecademy and Udemy are perfect for reviewing how to program.

6. MENTORS ARE AVAILABLE

There are usually mentors available to assist you, whether that be helping you fully understand the project or answering any coding related questions you may have. Mentors are volunteers who want to help you so please don’t be afraid to ask them questions.

7. TAKE LOTS OF BREAKS

Spongebob Taking A BreakPlease do not stress yourself out to the point of exhaustion. It’s nearly impossible to put out good work when your brain is fried, or your body is tired. That’s why you should take as many breaks needed to refresh your mind and body for the competition.

8. EXPECT COMMUNITY GAMES

Community games are held for participants to get to know each other and relax in between working. These are a great way to make new friends and have fun so if possible, you should consider taking advantage of them.

9. KNOW HOW LONG THE HACKATHON LASTS

Lady Pointing To Her WristThere are many different types of hackathons. Some last 24 hours, 36 hours, and even 48 hours. Know how long yours is and prepare accordingly. If it’s your first time going to a hackathon maybe a 24 hour one might be a good place to start. However, if you’re feeling ambitious maybe a longer hackathon is perfect for you.

10. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WORKSHOPS

Take advantage of the workshops that hackathons have to offer. More often than not, they provide beneficial information that can help with your current project in addition to your future ones.

11. THEY HAVE SLEEPING SPACES FOR STUDENTS

Animated Cat Yawning

Although sleeping spaces are usually provided, be sure to bring an air mattress and/or sleeping bag as necessary. Although some hackathons do provide air mattresses, don’t be surprised if there aren’t enough or if the ones they provide aren’t the best quality.

12. DO RESEARCH ON SPONSORS

Woman Holding Phone

Check to see if any of the sponsors for the hackathon are companies that you might be interested in working for. Some sponsors actually have internships or job opportunities available. Because of this, going to a hackathon puts you at a far greater advantage than most people who are also interested in those companies. It’s also a good idea for you to bring a few copies of your resume. Doing so shows those companies that you’re serious about working for them.

13. CHECK OUT DEMOS

At the end of a hackathon, there is usually a demo session of all the projects. Use this as an opportunity to look at what everyone else has made. Demo sessions are not only for company representatives. Participants are encouraged to look at projects aside from their own for innovative inspiration.

14. MOST HACKATHONS ARE FREE

Girl SpeakingAlthough most hackathons are free of charge, there are a few that may require a fee. This is rare but double-check that it’s free to be sure.

15. TRANSPORTATION MAY BE PROVIDED

Some hackathons do provide transportation. This could mean that they provide their own OR they refund your travel expenses. The refund process is that you have to pay your traveling fees at first, and then afterward they will refund you. Because of this, it is important that you hold onto all your traveling receipts so that they know exactly how much to refund you.

16. PACK LOTS OF SNACKS

Patrick Eating A Lot Of PattiesWhether you have any dietary restrictions or not, pack as many snacks as you can. Hackathons usually provide food for participants, however, if late-night cravings are a common occurrence for you or you simply cannot eat the food they have to offer, then it’s probably best that you bring your own snacks.

17. IT’S OKAY NOT TO KNOW A LOT OF CODE

Elmo Shrugging

If you have a brilliant idea but don’t how to create it, making a presentation is also acceptable. Making a visual presentation allows you to convey the idea you’ve come up with without the pressure of having the full code prepared. Even if you don’t have any code at all, presenting a few slides is better than presenting nothing at all.

For this article I’d like to thank Seidenberg senior, honors college student, and vice president of Women in Tech, Sammy Chen-Li for sharing her vast knowledge of hackathons! If you’re looking to attend a hackathon anytime soon, Pace University’s Women in Tech Club is actually having their very own hackathon called Sunflower Hack! It’s scheduled to take place Saturday, February 29th, 2020 from 9 am to 9 pm on the 2nd floor of 163 William Street. It’s an 8-hour hackathon open to all current undergrad and grad students at Pace. For more information please click here!

Tech Leadership Series: UPS STEM Innovation and Diversity

This October, the Seidenberg Tech Leadership Series had not only one, but three amazing guests from UPS at the Seidenberg Lounge: Diane Chan, Senior Manager of Applications Development, Carla J. Garcia-Maier, Director of Cloud Platforms & Technology, and Stacie Morgan, Senior Application Development Manager. Being that tech has always been seen as more male-oriented, it’s refreshing to see and meet women who have found tremendous success in this field. Their presence proves that women in tech have the ability to flourish in any aspect of technology.

Diane Chan
Diane Chan, Senior Manager of Applications Development

Diane Chan, like many college students, started school with one major in mind and finished with a degree in another. Through trial and error, she was able to recognize that her passions laid less with finances and more with technology. Initially an accounting major, Diane graduated from Pace University with a degree in Management Information Systems (MIS), thus demonstrating that college grants students the ability to explore other topics of interest.

 

Carla J. Garcia-Maier
Carla J. Garcia-Maier, Director of Cloud Platforms & Technology

Carla J. Garcia-Maier had a similar experience. It was in the U.S. Army that Carla developed her love for technology. After serving, Carla tried to follow in her father’s footsteps as a real estate agent, but quickly realized that she desired a career involving technology and leadership. Once that decision was made, Carla joined UPS in 1999 and has been working there ever since.

 

Stacie Morgan
Stacie Morgan, Senior Application Development Manager

Stacie Morgan discovered her interest in technology after realizing the application of computers for business problems through programs like VisiCalc and dBase. Although her interests involved technology, she later found that she was more interested in the organizational side. Once hired by UPS, Stacie started off as an Information Center Analyst and was promoted to Lead Programming Analyst until, in December 2015, she was finally promoted to Senior Application Development Manager.

Because technology is being used in every aspect of our lives, the market for jobs in the tech field has increased tremendously – and so has job competition. With so many people who are equally qualified competing for the same positions, how do you make yourself stand out?

Diane’s answer to this is: “You have to step out your comfort zone.” This was a lesson she had to learn throughout her career at UPS. She stressed that, in order to be recognized for your accomplishments, it’s important to take that extra step and make yourself known. Once you’ve accomplished that, you’ll become one step closer to success.

Carla had her own guidance to offer. When asked about her transition from military to civilian life, she explained one perk of working with people whose background differed from her own: the increase in expansive ideas. When working with people who don’t share that military background and are more relaxed in their way of thinking, the chances of coming up with the same idea is much lower. Solutions become more creative and individualistic that way. When everyone thinks the same, deliberation stops, and you end up settling on an answer that may not be the best or most efficient answer to the problem. Being open-minded is key to working in the technical field, especially because a majority of the work gets accomplished in teams.

Despite a majority of those in the tech industry being men, when asked how it feels to be a woman working in that field, Stacie confidently answered, “I’ve never seen myself as a woman in information systems,” thus, highlighting that women in technology are people first before anything else. Unfortunately, because there is a major disparity between the number of male and female workers in tech, a disparity with a ratio of 4:1 to be exact, women may often feel isolated in their careers. Stacie, on the other hand didn’t fall victim to this. Surprisingly, it wasn’t until she was given her managerial position that she noticed how few women were on her teams. She suggests that, as a woman in tech, it’s best to pay more attention to the task at hand. Focusing more on their capabilities as a person in tech will help them pay less attention to that gender disparity.

Thankfully, here at Pace University, our Women in Tech club provides a safe space for female students studying technology to connect and relate. If you’re a Pace student feel free to stop by one of their meetings every other Monday. Click here to be added to their mailing list and see all their latest events!

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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!

 

Seidenberg hosts IBMCyberDay4Girls for middle school girls

The Seidenberg School of CSIS hosted the IBMCyberDay4Girls event on March 28 on Pace University’s Westchester campus. Over 100 middle school female-identifying students attended the event and were introduced to the world of technology and cybersecurity.

According to IBM, the IBMCyberDay4Girls events began in 2016 and have been held in the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Nigeria. The events bring cybersecurity awareness to seventh and eighth-grade girls. IBM sponsors hundreds of events like these each year.

At the event, attendees learned about careers in tech through conversations with IBM professionals. They also learned about college life and STEM majors thanks to a panel of talented Pace students, including computer science majors Ashleigh Brown and Shayna Rosado. And last but not least, the girls had an opportunity to tour our beautiful campus!

Seidenberg Sophomore student, Ashleigh Brown, explained that she “jumped at the opportunity” to be on a panel at the event. The Computer Science major explains how she got involved.

One of my friends from Setters Leadership remembered that I am a part of Seidenberg. Over spring break, she sent a screenshot of her conversation with Alexa Dalbis, who was helping with the event. They needed volunteers who would talk to the girls, so I … emailed Alexa for more information,” Ashleigh explained.

Ashleigh noted that while on the panel, she and the other speakers covered several subjects regarding higher education within the world of technology.

“We talked about life on campus, applying for college, and opportunities in the field of technology,” she explained. “Some of the girls asked some really good questions, such as what you needed to include on your high school resume, residential life, and what skills you learn in computer science overall.”

The discussion gave the young women the change to learn about technology and higher education. Ashleigh noted that the events and panels scheduled for the young students “were educational and helped broaden their knowledge of cybersecurity.”

Getting young women into the field of technology is a step in the right direction, according to Ashleigh.

“There are many young girls who I’m sure are interested in cybersecurity, but most schools either aren’t going into depth about the field, or they don’t introduce the field at all. These girls are luckier than I am to have learned about this field, and computer science in general, at this age,” Ashleigh explained. “Also, because technology is evolving almost on a daily basis, there are new ways being invented for achieving identity theft online. It’s important to know how to protect your personal information, and I truly feel they learned a lot about that from this event.”

The middle school female students left with introductory knowledge of computer science and cybersecurity, but the real goal of the event was to encourage those students to enter the field of technology when they reach college.

Ashleigh expressed her gratitude, stating: “I really appreciate IBM taking time out of their schedule to put this event together and send representatives to Pace, especially since it is such a well-known company. I also applaud Pace for hosting the event and helping to inform young women about the field.”

We want to give a big thanks to Pace University alumni, Alexa Piccoli, and John Guckian, for bringing this event to the Seidenberg community.

Pace Women in Tech is reaching out to young women in technology

There’s a female-central club on Pace University’s New York City campus that all women in technology fields should check out. Pace Women in Tech (WiT) is a Seidenberg organization that empowers young women technologists. WiT is led by President, Jennifer Rhau, and co-President, Sammy Chen Li. We got in touch with Jennifer to learn more about her and the club she heads.

Jennifer explained that she started going to WiT meetings during her first years at Pace: “in Seidenberg, we have a peer mentorship program for all freshman. In this program, one of our assignments is to go to a Seidenberg Club event with our mentor.”

It just so happened that Jennifer’s peer leader from her university introduction class was the then secretary of WiT. She learned about the club meeting from her peer leader and scheduled a time to attend the meeting for a class assignment.

“My mentor ended up canceling, but I went alone and loved the environment the club was based on. So I vowed [at] that first meeting with my friend Tiara to one day ‘rule Seidenberg’ with WiT,” explained Jennifer.

Flash forward to now, and Jennifer is the president of the organization. It seems her vow to “rule Seidenberg” with WiT has come true. But ruling comes with its own challenges.

“WiT has had very rocky beginnings where we met randomly and weren’t very established,” she explained. With her and Sammy’s leadership, the group will continue to strengthen immensely.

“We try to have very informal meetings, [and] we are always set up in a circle. When the [current] board took over this year, we decided our main goal was to create a safe, fun, supportive community. Everyone talks about everything. We just eat and talk, while we (the board) sneakily slip in helpful tools for navigating the workplace and school. In the future, we want to continue sneaking in more opportunities and information,” shared Rhau. “It’s very important to us that we don’t become a monotonous club.”

Under Jennifer and Sammy’s leadership, it is certain that becoming a “monotonous club” is out of the question. They both work tirelessly to make the club open and comfortable for everyone—even though the organization is dedicated to women. According to Jennifer, “everyone can join!” They certainly want everyone to see the work going on in WiT.

“You should join it for the community, but also because we are so supportive. Not only supportive in an emotional friendly way, but we share opportunities we find and things we’ve learned along the way,” Jennifer shared.

Overall, the organization is dedicated to empowering women in the technology industries. Their organization gives a safe space to women navigating an industry dominated by individuals who identify as male.

“It doesn’t always feel like it, but all STEM fields are almost taboo for women. Even [now] it’s so hard to be heard,” explained Jennifer. “Then, when we get farther along we start getting imposter syndrome. It’s always a climb, but if we get enough women into STEM fields, future women won’t have to feel the same way. It will be a norm and no one can say anything to make us feel unworthy.”

Jennifer’s work as president is going towards making sure that the incline for women who have to make the climb into this tough industry gets easier each year. Her vow to “rule” Seidenberg was realized with her current title at WiT. Her newest vow? To leave a legacy behind.

“I would love WiT to leave a legacy in Seidenberg,” Jennifer expressed. “We have another club at Seidenberg called [the Pace Computing Society] (PCS). It is involved in so many activities in Seidenberg. They even hosted the peer mentor project launch! I want that to be [WiT] in the future when I come back to visit.”

WiT will always carry an inclusive legacy, especially under the reign of Jennifer and Sammy. You can join WiT for meetings every other Monday in the Seidenberg Lounge 12:10pm to 1:10pm.

Follow WiT on Instagram (@PaceWiT) to keep up with all of their events!

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