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Campus Briefs

Up-close and personal tech assessment.

When John D. Halamka, MD, CIO of Harvard Medical School (MA) tries out a technology, he g'es for the full experience. The doctor was implanted with a VeriChip, a subdermal RFID microtransponder from Applied Digital Corp. (, about the size of a grain of rice. The chip contains a unique identification number that can be scanned and used in a variety of tracking and security applications. Halamka put the system through rigorous testing—even climbing to a high-altitude, minus-20°F environment. He reported the system was robust, performing perfectly.

Q: how much superpower is enough?

A: Whatever is enough to go around. On the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus, home of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), students, faculty, and staff needed better access to high-end computing power. So, yet another supercomputer cluster was built outside the auspices of the NCSA, consisting of 640 Apple Xserves with two, 2GHz G5 processors each. On a high-bandwidth, low-latency Myrinet network from Myricom (, with 7TB of storage available, the new Turing Cluster can handle virtual prototyping for engineering, computational biology, quantum simulations, or just about anything else the community can come up with. Cost? Only about $3 million, renovations included.

bigger pipes.

UC San Diego now boasts the first production 10-gigabit Ethernet campus connection in the US. Linked to CalREN, the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC) high-performance backbone network, UCSD brings students and researchers the 10-gig broadband service right to their desktops.

why can’t pc read?

Researchers at the Artificial Intelligence and Reasoning Laboratory at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (NY) are hoping their latest, DARPA-funded research will yield a machine that can truly comprehend and reflect on what it reads—a skill that’s currently attributed only to humans (…some of them). The group has already developed the first robot ever to pass part of a standard IQ test, and an AI system that writes engaging short stories.

statue fakes laptop work.

At the University of Cincinnati this winter, passers-by noticed a student precariously perched on a ledge, intent on his PowerBook and oblivious to his peril. The laptop added such credibility that the paint-and-plaster facial features went virtually unnoticed. Unfortunately, the effigy’s peril was taken about as seriously as that of real people driving cars while yakking on cell phones.

ready for a challenge.

Students are poised for this spring’s Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, being held for the 23nd year at Purdue University (IN). Goldberg’s work—notably, sketches of complicated systems that perform simple tasks—sets the tone as teams pit their technical skills against one another, to devise creative and complex mechanisms.

love that building.

Valencia Community College’s (FL) new 60,000-foot, $7.2 million edifice houses a learning center brimming with the latest computer and networking equipment, to serve technical workforce programs including courses in Oracle, and Cisco and Microsoft certifications.

retiring from it.

Associate Vice Chancellor for Information Systems and Technology Jack McCredie will retire from UC Berkeley at the end of this academic year. McCredie is noted for his leadership in Educause, his active professional participation, and his writings, including the Nov./Dec. 2003 Educause Review article, “D'es IT Matter to Higher Education?”

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