Lincoln Dover, Brandon Castellano, and Robert Maksimowicz at the NYSID CREATE Symposium


Computer Problem Solvers

May 3, 2023

Pictured from left: Lincoln Dover, Brandon Castellano, and Robert Maksimowicz took second place at the NYSID CREATE Symposium for their high-tech glue gun, which limits risks to workers with disabilities by using a digital safety checklist before use.

Students in the College of Engineering and Computing Sciences have been busy this spring with extracurricular and experiential activities, including competitions and events, focused on solving problems and finding solutions. Here is a snapshot of how some New York Tech students spend their time outside of the classroom: 


Two student teams traveled to Albany for the April 24 NYSID CREATE Symposium (New York State Industries for the Disabled Cultivating Resources for Employment with Assistive TEchnology). The competition showcases inventions created to help those with disabilities; NYSID is focused on better accommodating workplaces for those with disabilities to increase the number of individuals who can work.

One New York Tech team comprised of electrical and computer engineering student Robert Maksimowicz and mechanical engineering students Lincoln Dover and Brandon Castellano, who collaborated with AHRC Nassau to create a high-tech glue gun to limit risks to workers with disabilities by using a digital safety checklist before use, a nontoxic chemical mixture and curing method as an adhesive, and a smart control system that prevents unauthorized use of the glue gun. Congratulations to this team, which was awarded second place and $10,000.

The second team, comprised of computer science students Hibah Agha and Pranaav Venkatasubramanian, collaborated with Spectrum Designs Foundation to create Xpress Assist 2.0, an enhancement of the current Xpress Assist prototype developed in the 2019–2020 CREATE program year. It allows employees with autism spectrum disorder to communicate with Spectrum’s management staff with a push of a button or the touch of a screen. The device will help track individual employee needs as well as aid in identifying the employee’s daily work assignments using visual cues.

“The CREATE Symposium is all about making a significant impact on the lives of others. It highlights what we do at NYSID and allows college students to create inventions to help individuals with disabilities become more employable,” says Maureen O’Brien, chief executive officer of NYSID.

The University Challenge

On April 19, four students participated in the University Challenge, a formal industry event hosted annually by the Metro New York Chapter of the 7x24 Organization, a nonprofit organization that provides an educational forum focusing on challenges faced by mission-critical industry professionals.

Founded in 1989 by a group of industry visionaries, 7×24 Exchange International has grown to include more than 250 companies and 28 chapters. Member companies include firms in aerospace, energy, financial services, government, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, media, and technology, among other industries.

The University Challenge is a forum to present new ideas or technologies that can help the data center industry become more efficient and save energy. This represents the third year in a row that New York Tech has had a team participate under the direction of College of Engineering and Computing Sciences Adjunct Professor Robert J. Tudisco, CAPM, LEED, CDCDP. The students who participated in this year’s challenge are computer science student Arif Khan; electrical and computer engineering students Joshua Khan and Tushan Persuad; and mechanical engineering student Justin Catagua.

The New York Tech students presented two ideas. The first is to create a device that uses thermoelectric generators to provide additional energy to the data center, and the second uses AI systems (such as ChatGPT) to control certain pieces of equipment or facility operations to help them run more efficiently and reduce their energy consumption.

All universities that enter the competition are awarded a $5,000 scholarship for their involvement.


Student teams from New York Tech, as well as from Adelphi, Hofstra, Farmingdale State College, Nassau and Suffolk Community Colleges, and St. John’s competing in the 2023 Long Island Capture the Flag cybersecurity competition.

Hackathon Program Expands

In late March, New York Tech hosted its most recent hackathon on the Long Island campus, building on an annual tradition dating back several years. For the first time, however, the event included student teams from outside of New York Tech, including teams from Adelphi, Hofstra, Farmingdale State College, Nassau and Suffolk Community Colleges, and St. John’s. The 2023 Long Island Capture the Flag cybersecurity competition was held in partnership with the Long Island chapter of the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC²). The event featured 15 cybersecurity challenges that needed to be solved by various cryptographic techniques, and for every challenge solved, teams earned a flag.

According to Michael Nizich, Ph.D., director of the Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation Center (ETIC) and an adjunct associate professor of computer science, hackathon events introduce students to real-world cybersecurity principles and techniques and provide them with high-impact, hands-on experiences before they enter the workforce.

Fostering Cyber Ranges

Under Nizich’s leadership, New York Tech has launched a pilot program to reformat and recycle retired computer equipment that local high schools can use to begin building their students’ cybersecurity skills. Simply speaking, a cyber range is a controlled, interactive technology environment where up-and-coming cybersecurity professionals can learn how to detect and mitigate cyberattacks using the same kind of equipment they will have on the job.

Nizich and several ETIC student workers, including Hayden Diaz Figueroa and Pranaav Venkatasubramanian, reformatted equipment for use by students at Shelter Island (N.Y.) High School. In addition to the equipment donation, Nizich and ETIC students conducted remote workshops and training sessions for the high school students to help them begin their cyber education and skills development. “Shelter Island School District becomes a lighthouse for other schools to look to as a leader in fostering cybersecurity education through hands-on, high-impact experiential learning,” says Nizich, adding that he expects to replicate this cyber range initiative with two additional high schools in the coming months.