Last spring I had the opportunity to present my project U.S. Births and Unemployment Rate 2007-2012 at the City College of New York’s Graduate Student Symposium. When the call for projects was originally issued, I dismissed it rather quickly mainly due to the distance and travel needed for me to attend. The symposium is in New York City, while I live on the Space Coast in Florida. It just didn’t seem feasible to fly up to NYC for 1 day, so why bother going through the application process.
Earlier in 2015, I blogged about my project and tweeted the post. Shortly there after, Kirk Borne, Principal Data Scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton, noticed my project and tweeted it out his followers.
Some how, my project ended up shared on the Google+ Statistics and R group. Apparently, Andrew Catlin, the interim Program Director at the time for the CUNY Master of Science Data Analytics program, is a member of this group. Anyway, I received an email from Andy encouraging me to apply.
Needless to say, I did apply and was accepted into the symposium. The event took place on Thursday, April 23rd, 2015. I arranged for some time off from my employer, and decided to make a family vacation out of it. We flew into Newark Liberty airport on Wednesday morning and toured the City in the afternoon as well as Thursday morning.
The symposium event was scheduled to begin at 5pm on Thursday. Having flown in, I had limited presentation materials. I brought my laptop and iPad, along with some table top paper charts (loaded into picture frames), a few copies of my project paper and some business cards to supplement my kiosk. I had learned through a phone call with a member of the Graduate Student Council (which organized the event) that the structure of the event was exhibition-style and each presenter would have their own table. Since I planned to use my laptop to show a slide deck in conjunction with my talk, I requested to be located near a power outlet. There were also limited audio/visual equipment available which some people used to help them during their presentations.
I arrived around 4pm and had plenty of time to setup my table. The tables were generally laid out by division. I was in the math/science division, and there were other sections for architecture, social sciences and education as I recall. We gathered for a short invocation and keynote speech at the front of the Great Hall, then returned to our tables to begin meeting the judges and presenting our projects. I met some great people including CUNY professors, students and outside professionals, and had a wonderful time talking to them about both my project and their work.
After an hour or so, the last call was made for judges to hear final projects and begin deliberations to award prizes. In the end, I was surprised and honored to receive the first place in the math/science division! CUNY issued a press release related to my award also.
Congrats to Daniel Dittenhafer for winning 1st prize in the Math & Science Division @CityCollegeNY's 8th Annual Graduate Student Symposium.— CUNY SPS (@CUNYSPS) May 5, 2015
For any CUNY graduate student considering whether to apply to the CCNY Graduate Student Symposium in the future, I highly recommend it. The application process was simple. If you have a project or thesis already in motion, you likely already have all you need to fill out the application. Obviously, travel can be an issue. Students local to New York City have an advantage in terms of expenses, but I traveled very light and did not feel I lacked anything during my presentations. The experience of meeting and talking with so many well respected people and presenting your work is invaluable. Apply, you wont regret it.