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The Problem Solver

News Story

Charlotte Coffin ’19 is constantly asking questions. It’s how her Local Hack Day team came up with fORAGER, an app game that challenges you to explore your environment and eat indigenous fauna—if you dare, that is.

When Charlotte Coffin ’19 first visited Pace, she was still in high school and volunteering at the FIRST Tech Challenge. It’s a competition where middle and high school students get to build and run a robot, then have that same robot participate in a series of tournaments. If it sounds fun, that’s because it definitely is. “I love the culture of FIRST,” Coffin said, who spent the competition observing matches, taking notes, and working with judges. “I like it because it’s a fun way to make connections and give back to a community that taught me a lot when I was younger.”

That was also Coffin’s first introduction to Seidenberg, where she ended up as a computer science major soon after. “I absolutely fell in love with the culture of Seidenberg, the city, and the people at Pace,” Coffin told us. “Because of Seidenberg, I have been able to engage with the technology environment in New York City in ways I wouldn’t be able to at other places.” Some of those engagements include her work for Local Hack Day, participation in the New York City Design Factory, volunteering at FIRST Tech Challenge, and taking office as Seidenberg’s Student Government Association (SGA) Vice President.

It’s a lot of work for anyone, but Coffin believes there are three important traits you can cultivate in order to find success in the ever-changing world of computer science. You’ll need dedication to solving a problem, the ability to think outside of the box, and patience. Lots of patience.

She brought all of that to the table and more when she signed up for the year-long New York City Design Factory class. In collaboration with the Porto Design Factory in Portugal and the Warsaw Design Factory in Poland, students were presented with the challenge of creating an energy management app for a real company.

“[That] class taught me an incredible amount about not only app development, but also how to communicate and collaborate across different time zones, cultures, and disciplines,” she said. Coffin even got the chance to travel to Poland and Portugal to develop the project further, which she says as an incredible experience. “I learned an amazing amount about myself, made lifelong friends around the world, and developed my professional skills immensely.”

Pace’s annual Local Hack Day was another opportunity Coffin seized. Although it’s located on the PLV Campus, problem solver Coffin wouldn’t be deterred. She organized transportation for herself and a group of NYC students so that they could all participate. “We went down the night before and [watched] a movie with pizza before spending the night and attending the Hackathon the next day,” she said.

Her team came up with fORAGER, a virtual world adventure game with augmented reality elements. “We relied on the power of data and image recognition to let the user take pictures of local plants and then decide to have their avatar either eat them or not eat them,” Coffin explained. “The purpose of the application was to engage people with the fauna that was indigenous to their area, and make them care about the environment at large.” Her team were recognized with an award—and prizes!—for their hard work.

For all her incredible achievements, Coffin says she wasn’t particularly interested in traditional leadership roles. That is, until she decided to run for SGA office. “I wanted to help bridge the gap between Pace at large and Seidenberg, as well as advocate for this community that has done so much for me.” Since taking up the role as SGA Vice President for Seidenberg, Coffin has worked tirelessly to listen to the concerns of her peers and represent them in the wider community.

With all that going on, Coffin still finds time to bike to work in Brooklyn, where she’s currently interning for J.P. Morgan. Talk about cool.

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