News Update :: Tuesday, June 6, 2006


Microsoft Names Winners of Grants for Search Innovation

Microsoft Live Labs announced 12 academic winners of its Accelerating Search in Academic Research request for proposal. These higher-ed researchers will split $500,000 to push the boundaries of Internet search, data mining, discovery, and analysis tools.

The RFP, which generated more than 180 applications, resulted in “a wealth of academic talent and ideas for search and algorithm development…allowing users to focus less on the work of searching and instead reap the rewards of discovery,” said Gary William Flake, founder and director of Live Labs.

Each of the RFP winners, who will receive between $25,000 and $50,000, will gain access to data logs from MSN to aid their research, as well as an increased quota of queries to the MSN Search software development kit, which gives them access to real-world search results from MSN. "It is very difficult to access large volumes of real data," said recipient Amelie Marian of Rutgers University. "Being able to work on a large excerpt of real search query logs, including per-query search result click-through, will be a very valuable resource to understand how users search and access information."

For a list of winners and the title of their proposals, click here.

India Reverse Outsourcing U.S. College High Tech Graduates

In a case of reverse off-shoring, Indian tech companies are beefing up their staffs by hiring Americans and foreigners to work in India, according to a report in the Boston Globe. Infosys Technologies Inc., a leading Indian software provider, will spend $100 million over the next year to hire and train 25,000 workers and college graduates from around the world, including from MIT and Harvard University. The Globe also reported that Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. of Bangalore will add 30,500 employees over the next year, including 1,000 from the U.S.

Currently, more than 10,000 American expatriates work in India for Indian information technology consulting and other outsourcing firms, a number that is expected to grow, said John McCarthy, vice president of Asia Pacific research at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass. Meanwhile, American firms will be sending more white-collar jobs abroad. McCarthy estimated that U.S. employers will move 3.4 million jobs and $136 billion in wages overseas by 2017. This includes jobs in technology, finance, life sciences, human resources administration, and business management. Most will be jobs that do not require face-to-face time with clients.

For more information, click here.

Pennsylvania Auditor Says Tech College Sloppy in Business

A special investigation by the state auditor of Pennsylvania found that Lancaster, Pa.-based Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology had “serious problems” in how it managed its business affairs, including its special disbursement account, credit card usage, computer inventory, and employee sick and vacation time.

The investigation of the college's business office grew out of a financial audit of the college for the 2003-04 fiscal year, which found internal control problems. Among the findings was proof that the school paid for $77,000 in information technology services from a special disbursement account without an approved contract. College officials attributed some of the findings to a 2003 transition of the college from being under the direct control of the state Department of Education to being a more independent part of state government.

State auditor general Jack Wagner emphasized that the college must address and correct the deficiencies identified in his report. Those included:

  • Conducting a thorough review of college operations to ensure that policies, procedures, and internal controls are being followed.
  • Maintain only a limited number of credit cards.
  • Retain a certified public accounting firm to assist in tracking assets.
  • Establish a sick leave bank for employees to donate excess leave.
  • Consider adopting an anti-nepotism policy in employment.

For more information click here.

California Network Feeds U.S.-India Summit on Ed Tech

The California Research & Education Network (CalREN) was used to enable a HDTV videoconference between the President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, and 250 attendees of a U.S.-India Summit on Education, Research, and Technology at the University of California, San Diego.

In order to provide the high rate of data exchange required, the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California provided 1 Gigabit of bandwidth across its high-performance CalREN-XD network from San Diego to Los Angeles, plus connectivity through its provision of the Pacific Wave international peering facility in Los Angeles.

The videoconference took place between the Presidential Palace in Delhi, India, and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) on the University of California, San Diego campus. Guests included India's Minister for Science and Technology, Kapil Sibal, as well as UC President Robert C. Dynes, UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, Chief Executive of Qualcomm Paul E. Jacobs, and former Chairman and CEO of Nortel, Bill Owens.

The program focused on economic and educational collaborative opportunities in a variety of areas, as well as an examination of the future evolution of the relationship between India and the United States.

For more information, click here.

UCI Med Unveils Computerized Alcohol Screening Kiosk

The University of California, Irvine’s Medical Center Department of Emergency Medicine will unveil a new Computerized Alcohol Screening Intervention prototype, or "CASI," designed to identify and intervene with patients whose alcohol use places them at risk for injury and illness. The project is funded through a $625,000 grant from the state Office of Traffic Safety.

CASI is a touch screen computer kiosk able to screen patients in the emergency department and intervene with individuals found to be at risk for alcohol use problems. With over 100 million visits to emergency departments each year and patients representing the entire spectrum of alcohol-related problems, the emergency department visit offers an important opportunity for intervention with "at risk" drinkers.

The kiosk, developed by a team of researchers in emergency medicine at UC Irvine, is the first of its kind. Using a touch screen, patients are asked a series of introspective questions that result in a personal health and safety risk assessment, as well as an individualized alcohol risk reduction plan.

For more information, click here.

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