News Update :: Tuesday, January 2, 2007


Microsoft: Time to 'Panic' in Search for CompSci Workers

MIT and Microsoft officials marked the end of an eight-year education technology research partnership by citing several discouraging statistics, including the high dropout rate of students studying engineering and the dwindling number of engineering graduates coming out of the U.S.

Microsoft senior vice president and head of research Rick Rashid told a conference concluding the MIT–Microsoft iCampus project that, “the number one producer of new computer science students capable of doing work at Microsoft is China,” CNET News reported. India is in second place, with the United States in third. “The United States still has the largest number of trained people, but I think we’ll lose that,” he noted.

“If you look at engineering overall, you get concerned. In my particular field of computer science, it’s reasonable to start panicking,” Rashid said. The pipeline of new graduates is getting smaller and the likelihood that future jobs will be done outside of the United States is growing, he said. Part of the problem with getting engineers is the state of education in the U.S., according to other panelists.

Diane Jones, Deputy of Office of Science and Technology Policy for the Bush administration, told the conference that employers frustrated with finding qualified technical people should expand their searches to include community colleges rather than only well-known universities...

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Finance Lab Propels Villanova to Top of 'Most Wired' List

Villanova University was ranked the “Most Wired” college in the country in a joint survey by PC Magazine and the Princeton Review. The publications cited the achievement of wireless connectivity across 60 percent of its campus, as well as its state-of-the-art Applied Finance Lab, a hands-on teaching tool and trading floor that enables business students to learn finance in real time.

One of the business school’s student-managed funds, the Arnone-Lerer Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) Fund, received national recognition for outperforming the market in 2006.

Rounding out the top 10, in ranked order were MIT, Indiana University at Bloomington, Swarthmore College, Creighton University, University of Illinois, Michigan Tech University, University of Southern California, Quinnipiac University, and the University of Oklahoma. The rankings of the top 20 schools were based on a survey of schools featured in the Princeton Review’s “The Best 361 Colleges.”...

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Mobile Students Push Colgate to Extend Wi-Fi Off Campus

Colgate University is starting to provide live Wi-Fi services off campus and into the downtown of Hamilton, N.Y., in response to the increasingly digital lifestyle of its students and the proliferation of wireless devices on campus.

“In the last two to three years, we noticed that our students have a much more digital lifestyle, owning three to four different mobile devices,” said Rich Grant, associate director of technology planning at Colgate. “There has been a pent-up demand for ubiquitous broadband wireless access, particularly in the residential dorms, on campus, and where students congregate.”

In response, the school decided to build a pervasive Wi-Fi network, including outdoors on the campus and in the downtown area of Hamilton where many of its students live. Colgate now supports from 1,500 to 2,000 Wi-Fi users at any given moment, Grant said.

While the primary use of the network is for the students and faculty, the public can also log in as guests at no charge in certain areas of the downtown. The Colgate Wi-Fi network was built by Tropos Networks and Integral Wireless Solutions, Inc...

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UI, Berkeley Profs Test Collaboration Virtual 3-D Stage

Two computer science professors from the University of Illinois and the University of California at Berkeley teamed up with a choreographer to stage a live dance performance in 3-D video, even though the dancers were in two different parts of the country.

Using the principle of the popular Nintendo game console Wii, which uses wireless technology and 3-D software to render live movements on video, U. of Illinois grad student and dancer Renata Sheppard and Berkeley dance professor Lisa Wymore performed in a virtual space that existed only on big screens at the UI and Berkeley – and on smaller screens via a webcast.

The performance, held to mark the fifth anniversary of the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society at Berkeley, was a test of an immersive 3-D video conferencing system developed by UI computer science professor Klara Nahrstedt and Berkeley professor Ruzena Bajcsy. The researchers are also using the system, dubbed the Tele-immersive Environments for EVErybody, or TEEVE, to experiment with tele-collaborations in the area of physical therapy and assembling structures.

TEEVE is a distributed multi-tier application that captures images using 3-D camera clusters and distributes them over Internet2 (the network reserved for research and corporate clients), compressing and decompressing the 3-D video streams, rendering them into immersive video, and displaying them on one or multiple large screens.

“TEEVE is a great technology because it allows for more cost-effective cyberspace communication of people in their full body size,” Nahrstedt said. “This system is especially suited for learning new activities, training, and meeting in cyberspace if a physical activity is to be performed.”...

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Penn State System Solves 'Who Is J. Smith' Puzzle

Penn State researchers have developed an automated system that can determine which “J. Smith” is authoring papers on computer science – the one who teaches at Penn State or the one who teaches at M.I.T – as well as whether “J. Smith” is John Smith, Jane Smith, Joanna L. Smith, or James H. Smith, Science Daily reported.

The system, which retrieves classes of authors with similar names, considers names in making its determination as well as information such as co-authors, dates of publications, citations, and keywords.

When tested with 3,355 academic papers written by 490 authors, the system correctly identified authors 90.6 percent of the time.

“It works very similarly to how humans would figure out authors’ identity – by looking at affiliations, topics, publications,” said C. Lee Giles, the David Reese Professor of Information Sciences and Technology and principal researcher.

“The system works by using machine-learning methods to cluster together names that the system believes to be similar. If you think there’s another parameter that’s relevant, you can change the algorithm and include it,” Giles said.

The system is explained in a paper presented at the recent 17th European Conference on Machine Learning in Berlin. Its co-authors were Jian Huang, a doctoral student in the College of Information Sciences and Technology, and Seyda Ertekin, a doctoral student in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering...

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