School of Information Sciences

iFest 2014: Technology, Entrepreneurship, Creativity


The School of Information Sciences (iSchool) at the University of Pittsburgh showed its love for the discipline in February 2014 with a series of events celebrating the information sciences. Special thanks to the faculty, staff and students of the iSchool who worked around the clock to make these events a success and to our sponsors for making iFest possible!

Technology, Entrepreneurship, Creativity (TEC) Conference

The week began with the inaugural Technology, Entrepreneurship, Creativity (TEC) conference. Organized by Professor of Practice Dmitriy Babichenko, TEC 2014 gave students the opportunity to learn about the “softer side” of the information sciences. Babichenko explained, “the TEC conference allowed our students to explore what possibilities exist in the business world beyond traditional information professions such as data or business analysts or application developers.”

Dr. Ronald L. Larsen, Dean and Professor of the iSchool, agrees. In his opening remarks at TEC 2014, Dean Larsen emphasized the “three terms distinguish what we do from other organizations on campus: people, information and technology.” He also noted that when prospective students say, “I’m going to go to an iSchool to figure out where I can make my greatest impact,” they recognize the powerful implications of an interdisciplinary course of study.

Following this introduction, Josh Sager of Smith Brothers delivered a keynote lecture on “Creative Tinkering” and participants attended breakaway sessions on topics such as human-centered design, running your own design company, creativity and small business, DIY movement, exploring and building, and technology-enabled learning with simulations in medical education. At the end of the day, participants attended one of three workshops: HTML5 and CSS3, game design, or working with Arduino.

iSchool Bowling Night at Arsenal Lanes

Commonwealth Scholars Jourdan Walls and Angela Bradshaw did a phenomenal job of covering iFest 2014, including the iSchool Bowling Night on Monday, February 10. Check out this blog entry for some idea of what went on at Arsenal Lanes. On their blog, Jourdan and Angela regularly write about their student experiences at the iSchool at Pitt.

Mastering Communication Skills for Researchers and Professionals:

Moving from Common Practices to Best Practices

On Tuesday, February 11, three members of the group Public Communication for Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University presented a workshop to doctoral students, faculty and staff of the iSchool. Jesse Dunietz, Adona Iosif and Ardon Shorr spoke on how to distill the core ideas from a research project, convey them vividly, plan and design effective slides, and speak with clarity.

Information Executive Roundtable

Information executives met over lunch with a selection of top-performing undergraduate and Masters students to discuss employment opportunities, strategies for career preparation, hands-on and practical work experience, and the ‘soft’ skills necessary for success as a leader in the information field on Wednesday, February 12.

Career and Internship Expo

At the premier recruitment and networking event of the year for the iSchool, 160 students and 20 representatives from 10 employers met in a targeted, exclusive setting to discuss employment and internship opportunities on Thursday, February 13.

Thanks to Brian D’Souza for designing this year’s iFest t-shirt!


PhD Research Poster Competition

From 5 to 7 pm on Wednesday, February 12, eight students presented their research projects in the annual poster competition. Their posters were judged on a number of criteria by three faculty judges: Martin Weiss, Sheila Corrall and Daqing He. Ultimately, they selected three winners: Evgeny Karataev for “Col*Fusion – not just yet another data repository,” first prize; Nathalie Baracaldo for “Beyond Accountability: Using Obligations to Reduce Risk Exposure and Deter Insider Attacks,” second prize; and Xidao Wen for “How Groups of People Interact With Each Other on Twitter During Academic Conferences,” third prize.









Nathalie Baracaldo, 2nd Prize Xidao Wen, 3rd Prize
  Evgeny Karataev, 1st Prize  

Bots and Books Design Challenge

Organized by Leann Bowler, the Bots and Books Design Challenge saw eight teams of undergraduate and Masters students design, program and build a robot to illustrate a theme from a children’s book. Their ‘bots were judged by Brian Beaton, Bob Perkoski, Martin Weiss and Corey Wittig. Many memorable presentations took place, including a Valentine’s Day dancing Cinderella and a reenactment of Disney’s The Lion King. The judges had a difficult decision to make, but in the end they selected three winning teams: Team Pizza (Ty Houy, Mandy Kendall and Tom Robinson), first prize for Bunnicula; The Carnegie Crew (Michael Balkenhol, Georgiana Deming and Bonny Yeager), second prize for The Invention of Hugo Cabret; and The Notorious Cardigans (Angela Bradshaw, Emily Mross and Jourdan Walls), third prize for Jumanji.

YouTube video of Bunnicula: Rabbit of Death – created by Tom Robinson

Presentations: “10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do With Data,” “Big Data in History: Creating a World-Historical Archive,” and “The Purpose and Future of State Libraries”

A special thanks to Armeen Gould, Business Development Director at Management Science Associates (MSA), Dr. Patrick Manning, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of World History and Director of the World History Center at Pitt and Stacey Aldrich, Deputy Secretary of the PA Department of Education, Office of Commonwealth Libraries and State Librarian for giving incredible presentations on the creative use of data and the future of information!

SIS News

SIS Faculty and students are leaders in the Information Professions. Their research, teaching, and projects are often newsworthy.