News Update :: Tuesday, August 1, 2006


Computer Science Profs Critical of Electronic Voting Tech

A group of computer science professors told a Congressional panel they had “grave reservations” about the possible advent of electronic voting machines in U.S. elections. Eugene Spafford, a computer science professor at Purdue University, told the Committee on House Administration that he and his colleagues were concerned about the security of the current voting systems being developed.

“As experts in computing, we have grave reservations about the safeguards in place with many of the computerized voting technologies being used,” said Spafford in a letter to Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House committee. The panel is considering legislation that would require a paper trail for voting machines used in the U.S.

In other testimony, Professor David Wagner of the University of California at Berkeley told the committee that “a single person with insider access and some technical knowledge could switch votes, perhaps undetected, and potentially swing an election.”

For Committee Hearing Webcast, click here and for Committee Written Testimony, click here

Report: College Students Don’t Know Much Beyond Google

Of 10,000 high school and college students asked to evaluate a set of Web sites last fall, nearly half could not correctly judge which was the most objective, reliable, and timely, according to preliminary results of a digital-literacy assessment done by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the New Jersey nonprofit.

Terry Egan, project manager for the assessment, told the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, “What we’re finding is not only d'es it [digital literacy] need to be taught at the higher education level, it needs to be taught a lot younger than that. I’m hoping that having an assessment like this available is going to change the paradigm of what people think is important to test and important to teach.” The newspaper reported that some University of Texas professors are now requesting seminars to teach students about the university library catalog and the approximately 200 computer databases available to them at the UT-Arlington library.

ETS has developed its first assessment to measure how students find, judge, and use information online. A key element is evaluating whether they can take the information and generate their own analyses or projects, Egan said.

For more information, click here.

Internet2 Offers Off-Net Extensions to Underserved Markets

The Internet2 consortium said it will make available additional optical circuits that would let the research and higher education community extend connectivity beyond the Internet2 footprint to underserved areas of the country. The Internet backbone organization said the new circuits – optical carrier and digital signals – would be made available via its carrier, Level 3 Communications, which has been expanding its coverage into Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets.

The new circuits would be offered under the banner of a new service called WaveCo. Internet2 officials said the offering would enable universities to extend to sites wherever the Level3 network operates, especially metropolitan areas that were not reachable via Internet2 only six months ago.

WaveCo works on the model of the Internet2 FiberCo dark fiber service, which enables universities to economically purchase dedicated dark fiber. “The resources…allow regional networks and other Internet2 participants to control strategic assets of their networking,” said Steve Cotter, Internet2 director of Network Services. “These two services provide an end-to-end solution for greater, flexible network reach.”

The services are being offered prior to completion of the recently announced Internet2 Network infrastructure, which will be built on experience from Internet2’s Hybrid Optical Packet Infrastructure (HOPI) testbed. The HOPI project examined hybrid packet and circuit switched optical infrastructures to understand next generation network architectures.

For more information, click here.

Bowie State Recruiting NASA Engineering, CompSci Interns

Bowie State University is collaborating with the NASA space agency to help spark interest among college students in careers in math, science, and engineering. Bowie State is administering the program, called the Summer Institute in Engineering and Computer Applications (SIECA), which is hosted by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Under the program, each SIECA student is assigned a NASA scientist or engineer as a mentor. The interns assist their mentors in conducting research, and then use data for projects. This in turn provides students hands-on experience working on NASA projects. Last summer, a SEICA student worked on developing tracking software adapters for rover prototypes. Each student also delivers an oral presentation and prepares a technical paper on the results of their research for NASA management, personnel, and fellow interns.

Vigdor Teplitz, chief of higher education for the Goddard Space Flight Center, called NASA’s space program “just about the greatest show on Earth if you are a technical person…and having these young, eager people with fresh points-of-view and questions is good for NASA [and] makes a productive summer for all.” Dillard Menchan, deputy education officer for NASA Goddard, said the SEICA program, “[has] been the most successful ‘pipeline’ feeder to our permanent workforce.”

For more information, click here.

Supercomputing Equals Competitiveness, Says UNLV Prof

The director of the National Supercomputing Center for Energy and the Environment at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Joseph Lombardo, told a Senate panel that federal funding for supercomputer research directly improves the performance of the U.S. economy on the global stage.

“Scientific and technological preeminence for the U.S. is related directly to high performance computing,” Lombardo told the Senate Subcommittee on Technology, Innovation, and Competitiveness. “Collaborations of federal laboratories and agencies, academic institutions, and corporate interests are key to advancing both technologies and applications, but require federal funding to do so.”

Lombardo pointed out how support for high performance computing followed perceived threats to U.S. competitiveness. The field received a great deal of funding following concerns about Japan’s supercomputing challenges in the 1980s, but funding waned in the 1990s when the focus shifted to off-the-shelf technologies. Lombardo concluded that, “federal funding for high performance computing should encourage development of cutting edge, high-end technologies, capable of addressing ‘Grand Challenge’ problems, as well as mid-range projects.”

For more information, click here.

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