iFest 2016 Showcases Student Research and Innovation

Issue Date: 
February 1, 2016

The University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences will hold iFest 2016 this week, Feb. 1-5, in Pitt’s Information Sciences Building, concluding with a daylong conference on technology, entrepreneurship, and creativity. Most iFest events are free and open to the general public. 

Held annually since 2005, iFest is Pitt’s premiere event for connecting School of Information Sciences students with major organizations across the nation. The event consists of a weeklong series of competitions, exhibitions, networking opportunities, a career fair, and an information technology conference.

“Every year, through iFest, the School of Information Sciences opens its doors to the public to share how our best and brightest have been addressing the challenges and opportunities of the information age,” said Wes Lipschultz, director of student services at the School of Information Sciences. “One only has to look at the news on any given day to see that information is being generated faster than humanity can adequately store, secure, or use it all. The iSchool at Pitt has a rich history, of over 100 years, of helping to empower humanity with the information it has at its disposal.”

 A schedule of iFest 2016 activities can be found at tinyurl.com/iFest2016. Among the planned activities are: 

Feb. 3,  4-7 p.m., Career and Internship Expo 

The expo gives Pitt’s computer science, information science, and Swanson School of Engineering students an opportunity to network with representatives from some of the nation’s most innovative organizations. Expected to attend are representatives from organizations such as Confluence Technologies, FedEx, IBM, RedMorph Inc., SDLC Partners, Solutionary Inc., UPMC, and Zap Solutions, among others. Participation in the expo is open only to Pitt students, but media is welcome. 

Feb. 4 , 5 p.m., iFest Project Showcase  

A wide range of student projects—from a visualization of 1750s sailing routes to an interactive ranking of knowledge-based economies—will be on display during the showcase. Nominated by iSchool at Pitt faculty, each project highlights the creativity and technological skillsets of students across multiple disciplines.

Feb. 4, 6 p.m., Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition 

The 3MT competition challenges doctoral students to present their highly technical graduate research to a lay audience in three minutes or less. The winner will receive a $500 research travel grant.

Feb. 5, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., TEC 2016 Conference 

The final event of this year’s iFest is TEC 2016: Technology. Entrepreneurship. Creativity. The daylong conference provides an opportunity for iSchool at Pitt faculty and students to meet with community leaders from organizations in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The event includes a series of informal presentations—much like the Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) Talks—that will spotlight issues and innovations in the information science fields. 

Ben Balter, whose title is “government evangelist” at Github—the world’s largest software development network—will deliver TEC 2016’s keynote address. Balter is a proponent of open source software, which is software whose code is available to anyone for modification or enhancement. Other speakers include Sera Linardi, an assistant professor in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs; Kevin Campbell, chief technology officer for Omnyx LLC; Salwa Ismail, head of library information technology at Georgetown University; Meredith Grelli, cofounder and co-owner of Wigle Whiskey; Shawn Patton, director of design for Schell Games; and Bobby Schnabel, chief executive officer for the Association for Computing Machinery.