Summer Experience 2006

2006 Seidenberg Scholars Summer Experience
June 25, 2007 ~ June 29, 2006

In an effort to identify prospective Seidenberg Scholars scheduled to enter in fall 2007, the Ivan G. Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems of Pace University invited top high school students from across the country to participate in an exciting summer experience on the Pace downtown campus that combined both a challenging academic activity with a great deal of fun and sightseeing in the "Big Apple."

The process of identifying participants was selective, requiring applicants to submit transcripts and test scores, request recommendations from guidance counselors or teachers, and write an essay proposing a technological solution to a significant global problem or need. Of the 500 students invited to apply, 133 submitted applications, 32 were accepted, and 31 ultimately attended. The group averaged 1440 on the SAT with three scoring a perfect 1600! They came from 12 states with two from as far away as Arizona and Montana. There were six young women in the program. All had indicated an interest in pursuing science, math, engineering or computing in college.

After four jam-packed days, everyone involved including the students, their parents, and the Seidenberg School faculty and staff who made it all happen, enthusiastically agreed that the first Seidenberg Scholars Summer Experience was a resounding success!!

The Experience

Once the participants arrived midday on Sunday, June 25, they wasted no time getting started. They were divided into teams and given their assignments by Richard Kline, PhD who designed the challenges and served as their mentor throughout their stay. Each team was assigned two challenges involving alternative energies and renewable resources ? one involving solar energy, the other wind power ? and were charged with developing workable solutions for each using LEGO robotics computing tools. The teams worked on their projects collaboratively in three-hour sessions called "design sprints." They became truly engaged with their assignments. Some even expressed frustration in not having more time to work through them, but "all work and no play" does not make for a well-rounded New York City experience.

Each day, during lunch, a faculty member addressed the group on a topic relating to computing. Michael Gargano, PhD gave a talk on genetic algorithms, Professor Catherine Dwyer provided "helpful hints" on "Planning for your IT Career," and Mary Courtney, PhD challenged them with a missing digit problem. Charles Tappert, PhD and Allen Stix, PhD, spoke about pattern recognition.

After lunch on Monday, the students went uptown for a guided tour of the American Museum of Natural History followed by a walk through Central Park. They later went to Times Square where they had dinner at John's Pizza. Their sightseeing continued on Tuesday afternoon with a Circle Line Harbor Cruise of lower Manhattan; a visit to the South Street Seaport Museum where Jeff Remling, a Pace alumnus, told the group how he had combined his passion for history with his interest in computing resulting in his ongoing pursuit of a digital history of lower Manhattan; and a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. In the evening, participants enjoyed a multi-course Chinese banquet and then went on to see "Blue Man Group," an unusual and entertaining off-Broadway play made even more enjoyable through the participation of Caitlin O'Gara, a group member, who was recruited from the audience.

On Wednesday, the students switched gears and came to Westchester. They spent the morning touring IBM's Industry Solutions Lab in Hawthorne, NY and then visited Pace's Pleasantville campus where they heard a talk about the behaviors and characteristics of various species of animals given by James Eyring of the Environmental Center. They then heard from Pace Energy Manager, Bill Batina about recycling such as reusing french fry oil to fuel a bus. The talk was followed by a campus tour, and a barbecue outside the Campus Center completed the day.

One of the most exciting highlights of the experience came when Ivan G. Seidenberg, CEO of Verizon Communications and the individual after whom the school was recently named, dropped by on Tuesday afternoon to meet the prospective scholars and to observe them working in the lab. He inquired about their projects and made an effort to learn more about each student by asking them to state their name, home state, and one interesting fact about themselves.

Another and equally exciting highlight was the presentation of each team's completed assignment in the presence of Seidenberg faculty and proud parents, and the bestowal of awards. Although more than one team was assigned a given challenge, each approached the problem differently and came up with different solutions demonstrating that there often is no one right answer to a problem. All of the robot designs and programmed behaviors were excellent, making it difficult for the judges to determine who placed first for each challenge but ultimately named the winners as follows:

Solar Service Challenge GREEN Team
Solar Collector Challenge RED Team
Wind Surveyor Challenge MAGENTA Team
Wind Rider Challenge CRIMSON Team

Before departing, the students, exhilarated by their brief but intense experience, gathered for their final lunch together. All were glad that they had come but sad that they were about to leave their new friends with whom they had shared so much. All appeared impressed with Pace and many expressed firm interest in applying for the Seidenberg Scholars program. One mom commented that her son "had a fantastic time and now Pace is on his short list."

The Seidenberg Scholars program was established at the request of Mr. Seidenberg who, at the time he made his gift of $15 million to the school, stipulated that a third of it be used to recruit and nurture talented students with a flair for innovation from among the nation's "best and brightest." The first group of five Seidenberg Scholars is expected to enter in fall 2007. They will receive close to full scholarships. The Seidenberg Scholar Summer Experience, superbly organized and run by Bernice Houle, associate dean, and Jonathan Hill, assistant dean and director of special projects, was established to begin the process of identifying suitable applicants and to make those unfamiliar with the school aware of all we have to offer.