Supercomputing Center connects to 8 colleges, universities

10 gigabits-per-second ethernet service creates high-capacity private connectivity

superThe Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), a nonprofit collaboration between Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh that offers advanced supercomputing infrastructure for solving large-scale, data-intensive problems in science and engineering, is using Comcast Business Ethernet for secure, private network connections to eight associated colleges and universities.

With this agreement, each of these schools can now gain access to advanced computing technologies, offsite data storage capabilities and other major research and education networks.

“The institutions we work with rely on us for three very important things: access to our state-of-the-art offsite data storage facility; use of our supercomputers for advanced mathematical computations, scientific modeling and large-scale data analysis; and high-speed, high-quality connectivity to the internet,” said Ken Goodwin, director of advanced networking at PSC.

(Next page: Details of the supercomputing agreement)

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7 innovation factors part of new framework for higher-ed leaders

Helping schools set up a culture focused on bolstering innovation is the focus of a new report.

report-innovation-cultureA new report from 2Revolutions, EDUCAUSE, and Next Generation Learning Challenges has proposed a highly detailed framework for building and sustaining a culture of innovation in higher education.

Building a Culture of Innovation in Higher Education: Design & Practice for Leaders” is a higher education follow-up to a similar K-12 report from 2Revolutions and The Learning Accelerator in 2014, which explained the factors and importance of innovation culture. It also shared a self-assessment tool that educational leaders can use to better build innovation culture.

This new publication aims to build on that methodology to be a valuable resource for universities, colleges, community colleges, not-for-profits, and other organizations that serve postsecondary institutions by providing best practices for catalyzing, enabling and sustaining innovation culture.

The report focuses on helping schools “think creatively and strategically about how to use technology to personalize and strengthen roadmap markers” for an increasingly diverse pool of students that expect a measurable return on their investment of time and money spent on pursing a degree.

According to the report, a culture of innovation is defined as “nurturing an environment that continually introduces new ideas or ways of thinking, then translates them into action to solve specific problems or seize new opportunities.” Though it can be difficult to replace tried and true approaches with untested ones, the report stresses that analysis and experimentation are key in our shifting higher education landscape.

(Next page: The report’s keys for creating an effective innovation culture)

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Thousands spent to get liberal arts grads into STEM

Tech Institute awarded $632,000 NSF grant to attract liberal arts graduates in software engineering.

stem-liberal-grantThe National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $632,000 scholarship grant to Stevens Institute of Technology to help fund liberal arts graduates in the software engineering (SwE) master’s degree program.

Supported by the $632,000 grant, this program will consist of 10 required courses, a summer bridge component, an internship and a part-time option for the final semester that allows students to work full -time while attending classes in the evening.  It is set to launch in time for the Fall 2015 semester.

The program aims to help broaden access into STEM professions by creating another pathway specifically for talented liberal arts graduates who are adept in technology.  In addition, the program wants to enhance overall opportunities for students as STEM knowledge and skills are in increasingly high demand throughout the job marketplace.

“This can be a transformative program that gives U.S. citizens, who are potentially under or un-employed with existing student debt, the opportunity to compete for highly rewarding, high-impact STEM jobs, which will benefit the U.S. economy and U.S. society,” said Professor Linda Laird, software engineering program director at the School of Systems and Enterprises (SSE) at Stevens. “In addition, this program answers the national call for more homegrown scientists and engineers.”

(Next page: What the grant covers)

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Academia and industry team up to give college students ‘Big Data’

Big Data analysis competition for undergrads aims to promote the field of analytics.

data-datafest-analyticsStudents from more than 20 prestigious colleges and universities recently tried their hand at “Big Data” analysis at seven different campuses around the country during DataFest, an annual month-long data-analytics competitive event sponsored by the American Statistics Association.

The undergraduate students of DataFest spend one weekend analyzing real data provided by an organization with a rich store of accessible information. In the 2015 challenge, the data was supplied by car shopping website Edmunds.com; past providers include eHarmony, GridPoint, Kiva.com and the Los Angeles Police Department.

“The students found a lot of unexpected and interesting stories to tell using the car shopping data from Edmunds,” said Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel, assistant professor in the Department of Statistical Science at Duke University. Çetinkaya-Rundel is a co-founder of the event, which has been running annually since 2011. She added, “I think that this experience made them truly appreciate the importance of data analysis skills required for working with large and complex datasets and made them excited for working with such data in the future.”

The vast majority of the automotive data that powers Edmunds.com’s website, iOS app, Android app and tools has been made available to the larger developer community for free at http://developer.edmunds.com/. The company also encourages use of its data by teams in its annual Hackomotive challenge, which parallels DataFest in its encouragement of innovation. Edmunds awarded $35,000 in prizes during the 2015 event, the third of its kind.

By the end of DataFest this past weekend, more than 25 teams (approximately 100 students) from schools around the country were recognized with awards that can serve as meaningful additions to graduate school applications and résumés.

At Duke University, students David Clancy (Statistical Science & Mathematics), Tori Hall (Statistical Science), Michael Lin (Mathematics), and Gregory Poore (Biomedical Engineering), each on track to graduate in 2016, participated as team Bayes’ Anatomy, focused on analyzing and visualizing consumer preferences and behaviors. The team’s work was noticed by DataFest judges, who awarded it the Best Visualization award.

“As ‘Big Data’ trends are likely to generate lucrative and satisfying jobs for many of today’s brightest students, DataFest is a résumé-builder as well as a memorable and fun experience,” observed Paddy Hannon, Chief Data Officer at Edmunds.com. “We appreciated the opportunity to get involved, not only to support this worthwhile program but also to connect with students who could become members of the Edmunds.com data team someday soon.”

There are currently six open positions in Edmunds’ Business Analytics department; details can be found at http://www.edmunds.com/about/jobs/.

Other sponsors of DataFest include APT, DataCamp, Google, MassMutual Financial Group, MaxPoint, Panton Inc., RTI International, SAS and Summit. For more information on DataFest, please visit http://www.amstat.org/education/datafest/.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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Higher-ed gets a new transatlantic network for collaboration

Research scientists get “ultra-fast and robust network” across the Atlantic Ocean.

network-atlantic-researchAt the Internet2 Global Summit today, the partners in ANA-200G and ESnet announced a new agreement that aims to improve the resiliency of what the partners say is the world’s fastest inter-continental network for research and education.

ANA-200G is a fully resilient 100 gigabits per second (100 Gbit/s or 100 billion bits per second) network that traverses the North Atlantic Ocean and helps support today’s most advanced, data-intensive research and education applications.

“This announcement demonstrates the determination and commitment of our partners to ensure researchers have the infrastructure they need to leverage massive data sets to create new knowledge and apply it to our most pressing problems,” said Jim Ghadbane, president and CEO, CANARIE.

This network is funded by four national research and education networks (NRENs): Internet2, NORDUnet, CANARIE and SURFnet. ESnet says it provides scientists with access to unique U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) research facilities and computing resources, and is funded by DOE’s Office of Science.

The agreement announced today enables reciprocal backup between ANA-200G and ESnet’s 340 Gbit/s transoceanic infrastructure.

“As our community makes the transition to fewer but faster transatlantic links, reducing the impact of link failure is critical,” said Greg Bell, ESnet director and Berkeley Lab division director. “This mutual backup agreement is a positive development for science, and for the growing spirit of collaboration among the world’s research networks.”

(Next page: Why this collaboration is critical to supporting today’s research)

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How to get the biggest bang from scholarship bucks

Financial aid offices are using technology to streamline the management of college scholarships, making it easier for students to find and apply for the money they need.

scholarship-admissions-techAt most colleges and universities, students have access to hundreds, if not thousands, of scholarships. Unfortunately, finding and applying for these scholarships can be a nightmare, with funds scattered across an institution’s schools and departments. As a result, some universities struggle to award all their scholarship funds, even as qualified students drop out for lack of tuition money.

In an effort to maximize the impact of their award programs, many financial aid offices are increasingly turning to scholarship-management tools for help.

“Back in 2010, just about every campus had a very manual, very decentralized process for awarding scholarships,” recalled Brandon Phipps, CEO of AcademicWorks, an Austin-based company that surveyed universities before developing its own cloud-based solution for managing scholarships. “From students’ perspectives, it was obviously very confusing for them to identify all the scholarships they might be eligible for.”

Today, hundreds of campuses utilize scholarship-management solutions like those from AcademicWorksWizeHive, and FluidReview. The need is probably most acute at large research institutions that might have as many as 5,000 different scholarship funds, siloed within individual colleges and each with different awarding criteria.

Colorado State University, with eight colleges and 31,000 students, is a perfect example of the challenges faced by major research universities.

(Next page: Why “needy child” systems need to go)

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Penn state asks if the Apple Watch can influence student achievement

University faculty member will study how academic achievement might be influenced by wearable technologies, such as the Apple Watch.

Wearable-Tech

Courtesy Penn State/Teaching and Learning with Technology; https://www.flickr.com/photos/psutlt/17257701721/.

A Penn State faculty member is set to study how wearable and accessible technologies, such as the Apple Watch, can support students’ self-regulated learning to lead to greater academic success.

Self-regulated learning is guided by students’ knowledge, metacognitive skills, strategies, and motivation. Self-regulated learners are engaged and effective independent learners who are able to monitor and control their learning and motivation.

New technologies such as the Apple Watch could provide new opportunities to reach students in unique ways to support their self-regulated learning strategies to excel in academic situations.

(Next page: How the research will be structured)

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Higher-ed leaders say this is the future of research universities

University president says a new language is needed to secure funding and support.

research-universites-fundingInclusiveness, both of students and the community, is the key to obtaining the much-needed funding to secure the future of research universities, said Freeman Hrabowski, president of The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).

“I have a word I like to use, ‘Neoteny.’ It basically means a youngness of the mind and refusing to be cynical. It’s a ‘forever young’ way of thinking that doesn’t allow for the ‘been there, done that,’ or ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’ mentality,” said Hrabowski during this week’s Internet2 2015 Global Summit keynote in Washington D.C. “We need to rethink, and reform, our strategies around securing public and private support for our research institutions.”

Hrabowski explained that earlier in the day, during an executive meeting on the future of research universities, higher-ed leaders and industry discussed three new ways to generate funding, each involving the concept of inclusiveness.

“R&D institutions have been putting out reports and working with organizations to try and get the word out about how important their work is, for local economies and the global economy,” he emphasized. “But nothing is working. We’re still not getting the funding we need, and the pipeline is drying up.”

(Next page: New ways of generating support, and why it’s important)

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Computer engineering goes free and open

New MIPSfpga program lets universities study MIPS RTL code and explore a real MIPS CPU.

MIPS-CPUImagination Technologies (IMG.L) announces a new offering as part of its Imagination University Programme (IUP) called MIPSfpga. Through MIPSfpga, Imagination aims to transform CPU architecture education in universities around the globe by offering them free and open access to a fully-validated, current generation MIPS CPU in a complete teaching package.

CPU architecture is generally taught as part of electronic engineering, computer science and computer engineering courses, and is based on MIPS or one of the other two major CPU architectures.

Until now, what’s been missing from all of these courses is access to real, un-obfuscated RTL code that will enable professors and students to study and explore a real CPU, says the company. Imagination is changing that with MIPSfpga, bringing a new CPU architecture education paradigm to universities around the world.

(Next page: How the MIPS CPU configuration is designed)

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Lynn University moves to upgrade campus service access

Florida university aims to improve the way students, faculty, and staff search for and connect to online resources.

campus-servicesLynn University has selected rSmart OneCampus, a cloud-based service discovery platform, to modernize the way users access campus services, information and applications from any device.

“We selected rSmart OneCampus to help our students and employees easily locate online resources such as registration, tuition payment, advisor and faculty reports—even event calendars—from one easily searchable place,” said Maria Piret, Lynn’s director of information systems.

Unlike traditional portals organized by department or organizational charts, OneCampus says it features an “intuitive design and robust search functionality” to help users spend more time on the task and less time trying to find it. OneCampus also aims to empower administrators to quickly change and add new tasks to facilitate continuous service improvements with limited IT expertise or involvement.

“OneCampus easily integrates with the single authentication system that allows our users to gain access to institutional services and applications, and it enables us to quickly add new web-based services, regardless of the platform or authentication types,” said Piret. “We anticipate these enhancements will help reduce the service and maintenance burden on our IT department, and even open up resources for other campus projects.”

Lynn will introduce OneCampus across the institution during the summer semester in order to test its feasibility as the university’s main online services gateway. A full go-live could be expected by late summer.

rSmart CEO Tony Potts added: “With limited budgets and IT resources, colleges and universities of all sizes are facing similar challenges when it comes to finding an affordable yet effective way to organize their web-based services. We are thrilled that Lynn has selected OneCampus to make their campus services discoverable to all users and to facilitate continuous service improvements.”

rSmart will work closely Lynn University, its early adopters and members of the product advisory board to solicit input on additional features and the product roadmap to ensure OneCampus continues to meet the needs of colleges and universities today and into the future.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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