News Update :: Tuesday, October 3, 2006

News

U.C. Berkeley to Put Lectures on Google Video

The University of California at Berkeley said last week that it will use Google Video to deliver college courses, including lectures and symposia, free of charge. It will be the first university to have its own featured page on Google Video, according to a report by the Reuters News Agency. As an initial offering, the university has put up a library of more than 250 hours of video for public viewing. Most of it previously was not available online, Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said in a statement.

Currently there are a half-dozen Berkeley courses in their entirety on the site, including 'Physics for Future Presidents,' 'Integrative Biology,' and 'Search Engines: Technology, Society and Business,' featuring a lecture by Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Also available will be a range of public events and academic symposia on topics ranging from climate change to synthetic biology. The campus is set to add more material to the Google Video site in coming months...

For more information, click here.

Georgia Tech Debuts Outsource-Resistant CS Curriculum

The College of Computing at Georgia Tech debuted this academic year a curriculum it describes as a “transformational approach to undergraduate computer science education.” Called “Threads” and developed by college faculty, the program is designed to produce “graduates whose skill sets will be difficult to outsource in a globally-competitive marketplace,” according to the College.

Richard DeMillo, dean of the College of Computing , said the program is designed to take down the academic stove-pipes surrounding the traditional computer science program. 'Threads represents a tremendous departure from current thinking about computer science education – historically a vertically-oriented curriculum whose goal is the creation of students with a fixed set of skills and knowledge,' he said.

Instead, the program consists of eight sets of broad and horizontally-focused skill categories – or 'threads' – across the computing disciplines. These include computational modeling (“where computing meets and describes the world”); “embodiment” (“where computing meets the world”); and intelligence (“where computing meets and models intelligence”). Students can “intertwine” any two threads, leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science.

Charles Isbell, assistant professor and co-creator of the program, said, “an incoming student at the College of Computing may enter with the desire to start their own company designing and marketing household robots. Some may want to be a game designer. With Threads, there are almost as many possibilities as there are students.” He also noted that the program expects to attract and retain “a broader range of students, including larger numbers of women and under-represented talent, into computing and computer science.'...

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New MIT Media Lab Design Supports Visibility, Collaboration

MIT will break ground next spring on a new architecturally advanced Media Lab designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki. The developers said the expansion marks a new era of innovation for the Lab, which became famous during the rise of the commercial Internet for its “highly interdisciplinary, often unconventional research.”

The six-story building will feature an open, atelier-style architecture designed “to provide the flexibility to respond to emerging research priorities. High levels of transparency throughout the building's interior will make ongoing research visible, encouraging connections and collaboration among researchers,” MIT announced.

The new facility will also house the List Visual Arts Center, the School of Architecture and Planning's Design Lab and Center for Advanced Visual Studies, the Department of Architecture's Visual Arts Program, and MIT's Program in Comparative Media Studies.

Media Lab director Frank Moss said the Maki-designed building would advance the lab’s research goals. 'An essential ingredient in the lab's distinctive approach to 'open innovation' has been its exploitation of open physical spaces,' he said. 'The abundance of such spaces in the new building will be a perfect setting for expanding our research agenda into exciting new realms such as robots that learn from people, and bionics, for taking ideas beyond the demo stage to working prototypes.”...

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NSF and U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science Give $30 Million to Power Up Open Science Grid

The National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a five-year $30 million grant to operate and expand the Open Science Grid (OSG), a common distributed computing environment that works across a partnership of universities, national labs, and software developers.

Fifteen members of the OSG Consortium, including eleven U.S. universities and four national laboratories, will receive funding through the NSF and D'E Office of Science awards. The money will support computing resources from more than 50 sites in the U.S., Asia, and South America, shared through the OSG. These resources range from small clusters of ten computers to large facilities with thousands of processors and millions of gigabytes of data storage.

Together with other grid computing projects, from computing grids on university campuses to large national and international grid projects, the consortium works to create a worldwide computing infrastructure for scientific research. “Distributed computing and cyberinfrastructure have the capability to transform research, but these tools and methods remain challenging for most scientists,” added Miron Livny from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, OSG’s facility coordinator. “Efforts such as the OSG work to democratize computing by lowering the barrier to individual scientists using distributed computing facilities.”...

For more information, click here.

'Battle of the Brains' for Best College Programmer Begins

The Association for Computing Machinery and IBM last week announced the start of international regional competitions that will lead up to the 2007 winner of the 31st annual International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC), also known as the “Battle of the Brains.”

University teams of three students each will participate in the contest's regional competitions through December. They will be asked to solve real-world computer programming problems under a grueling five-hour deadline. This year's regional competitions are expected to include more than 6,000 teams from 84 countries on six continents. Eighty-five teams will advance to the World Finals taking place in March 2007.

'The ICPC attracts incredibly bright young men and women who will shape the future of computing,' said Dr. Bill Poucher, ICPC executive director and Baylor University professor. He called the partnership of ACM, IBM and colleges and universities a “force in advancing education and innovation in computer science and engineering.'

The 2006 ACM-ICPC World Finals took place in San Antonio, Texas, last April, where the team from Saratov State University in Russia emerged as the world champion...

For more information, click here.

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