Duke ITAC - November 29, 2001 Minutes

DUKE ITAC - November 29, 2001 Minutes


November 29, 2001

Members Attending: Ben Allen, Ed Anapol, Landen Bain, Mike Baptiste, Pakis Bessias, Ken Hirsh (for Dick Danner), Angel Dronsfield, Brian Eder, Ed Gomes (also for David Ferriero), Nevin Fouts, Ben Donnelly (for Patrick Halpin and Ken Knoerr), Billy Herndon, David Jamieson-Drake, Roger Lloyd, Melissa Mills, Caroline Nisbet, George Oberlander, Jim Coble (for Lynn O'Brien) Mike Pickett, Rafael Rodriguez, Tom Rowe, Mike Russell, Clare Tufts, Fred Westbrook, Robert Wolpert

Guests: Bob Currier, Jen Vizas, Debbie DeYulia

Call to Order: Meeting called to order at 4:05 pm

Review of Minutes and Announcements:

  • No changes to the minutes suggested.
  • New member to ITAC - Clare Tufts, from Romance Studies, she is currently working on language teaching initiatives across campus
  • Ken Hirsh will be filling in for Dick Danner all next semester.
  • Tracy Futhey has been appointed the new CIO and VP of IT; she will be arriving in March.
  • Tallman Trask will attend the next ITAC meeting in 2 weeks.
  • The SISS Team was selected for the 2nd annual Duke University Teamwork award; they tied with the Credit Union this year, great job to the SISS Team.
  • Last meeting there was a report on a security proposal and a program for scanning open ports. There were many machines found open.
  • The Future Forums are being planned again. These are forums where issues and topics relevant to the IT professional community are presented. Jim Coble has agreed to present in January on video services, streaming video, etc. Please send other topics that would be relevant for this coming year to Mike Pickett.

Wireless Networking - Proposed building and schedule

Robert Currier- Director ECI

Bob handed out a timeline of when different buildings will have wireless access. This list is based on feedback from DSG, CITIE, and ITAC.

All new buildings or building on the network schedule will have MobileNet presence inside the building. If the building occupants want to go wireless, wireless access points would be installed in the building.

DISCUSSION: Is anyone taking into account where some of the minority or international students congregate, there are places that are not necessarily social places?
Bob said to send him a list via email.

The question was raised as to whether they are looking into the engineering for 802.11a vs. 802.11b, 802.11a can provide further reaching access, etc.
Bob said they are indeed looking into that.

Academic Technology Overview

    • Connect faculty and students to IT resources they need - when and where they need it
    • Incorporate online learning and distance education where appropriate
    • Create a more effective organizational structure for information technology support
  • Michael Pickett - Associate CIO and Special Assistant to the Provost for Academic Technology

    Mike provided a Powerpoint handout of his presentation. He explained the main emphasis of the University's strategic plan initiative, "Building on Excellence." He noted that goal 6 of the strategic plan deals with the use of academic technology and many of the ideas came out of the academic technology thinkpiece he and Betty Leydon wrote for Peter Lange.

    Mike noted that the academic technology planning activities were particularly related to the following strategic plan Initiatives:

He noted that we have put a great deal of effort into administrative IT services, but that we need to now focus on enabling our academic efforts with appropriate use of technology. He said that many schools have initiatives in these areas and that we need to link the central services effectively to services offered by the schools.

He said that the academic technology planning activities covered three broad areas:

  • CBSSE - Computer Based Support for Science and Engineering
  • CITIE - Computer and Information Technology Intensive Environment
  • ISIS - Interdisciplinary Studies in Information Science Certificate Program

The first area, CBSSE, involves three efforts: mass storage, visualization, and parallel computing. The intent of providing mass storage is to create support for data sets of massive size in such a way that research that could not occur before is enabled. A pilot mass storage facility has been created with 3.2 terabytes of online storage and 43 terabytes of nearline capacity. Duke researchers from the Brain Imaging and Analysis Center, the school of Engineering, and the department of Computer Science have helped a joint IBM/Duke team to explore the combinations of hardware and software that will maximize performance, flexibility of access, and data reliability.

Rachael Brady has been hired to provide assistance with visualization efforts to researchers at Duke including the development of an immersive environment for visualization of data (CAVE). Bill Rankin has been hired to assist researchers in the use of parallel computing. He will be providing a testing lab for Beowulf computer clusters and will conduct classes in parallel computing algorithms

Duke's efforts with mass storage, parallel computing, and visualization will help us to fully participate in the Bioinformatics GRID computing efforts as they emerge from the North Carolina Supercomputing Center.

Mike noted that the second area, CITIE, involved creating a robust mobile computing environment demonstrated by sustained, productive use by faculty & students. It would support a high percentage of faculty use technology in their research and in the background of their courses, and would result in undergraduate and graduate students who are technology- equipped and capable. Initiatives under CITIE would provide faculty services and support, student services and support, laptop computing support (although a laptop requirement was not likely), wireless networking, classroom technology uplift, computer labs, and collaborative workspaces.

Some specific initiatives include:

  • FASTstart program for faculty support. This program matches students to faculty for faculty training; the students are trained in teaching.
  • Blackboard pilot will go production with the Enterprise release at the end of December. The number of classes has doubled on the server this semester. CIT has the ability to help part of the faculty make use of their tools.
  • Need to investigate where distance learning is appropriate. Fuqua and Nursing, for example make good use of distance learning with their graduate/ professional students.
  • Student Services and Support - We all like to get help from people we know and those who are close by. As more technology is used in the curriculum, students will need to become more effective with technology to handle their coursework. Dean Thompson has led the effort to assess technology skills for incoming students. OIT is providing training to students who need additional skills.
  • After getting feedback from ITAC, CITIE steering, students, faculty, and reviewing schools with laptop programs, the Provost decided not to require laptop computers for incoming students this coming fall. An optional laptop program where students, faculty, and staff can buy discounted laptops and receive special support is likely.
  • Wireless mobile computing is very important and effective way to enable communications and learning as was discussed earlier by Bob Currier. We need to put the infrastructure in place.
  • Collaborative student workspaces across the schools are being looked into. Residence areas are being revamped with an eye to the learning and academic environment. We may move computing labs closer to the dorms and possibly have specialty computing labs.
  • Printing stations being looked into, there is currently a huge waste of paper. Alternatives being investigated include consoles enabled by a student's DukeCard that only print the copies that the student wants, not earlier versions or accidental duplicates.

Mike noted that a third area included the ISIS certificate program. The ISIS certificate program would begin with a survey course on major issues in information studies. Students would be exposed to courses in an "area of concentration" that is different and complementary to their major. It would require a capstone experience involving interdisciplinary teamwork. He indicated that it was expected that the ISIS certificate program will begin in Fall 2003.


Where is the funding coming from?
Some start up funds are coming from the provost's office, however schools are already putting a good bit of resources into these activities.

Who is "we" when that term is used?
Mike said it depended on the context of what he was referring to. For example, he has been asked by the provost to provide leadership in this area, but other groups in the Library and the schools are involved. The new VPIT will provide needed leadership in the area of academic technology efforts.

The role of the provost's office is as the owner of the academic strategic plan. There is some startup funding for strategic planning initiatives. The board of trustee's charged the provost with coming up with activities in support of the strategic plan, including integrating technology into all we do at Duke.

There are CITIE steering, sponsors committees, and ITAC to help guide these efforts. The provost's office is working with IT leaders in schools and departments to help begin these efforts in support of the academic strategic plan.

Training for students? It was suggested that we outline IT core competencies that students should have to be successful at Duke and when they leave. Faculty need to report what is assumed of the students in order to take their class and make sure some training is available.

It was mentioned that Duke has had initiatives before that did not work. We need to look at these and identify the obstacles to success and get to the root cause of the obstacles, so that this can be successful.

Mike noted that IT services improved a great deal under Betty's leadership, but we still have work to do. He said that he felt that Tracy Futhey will continue this trend and take us to a new level of excellence.

Topics for Discussion with Tallman Trask on 12/13/01

    • What was the result of the recent discussions he had with Mike Mandl regarding SAP and business warehousing?
    • There is not much place for faculty input on enterprise rollouts. Can things change?
    • There has been talk about replacing administrative systems, will the old data still be available and will there be tools in place to get to it?
    • What do you feel the biggest obstacles to success at Duke are right now?
    • Where is telecom going?
  • Big Picture topics for Tallman for next meeting include:

Topics/Issues we'll need to address with the new VPIT in the coming year:

    • Can we try to get resources across campus for those areas that do not have IT support?
    • Security Issues
    • How do we coordinate what we are doing in our respective schools, close the gap between the have and have nots?
    • How can we anticipate changes and stay current?
    • How do we identify those areas that are not current and bring them to the attention of the right folks?
    • Can we improve responsiveness and resources for certain services?
    • Telephony - aging switch, how to handle, voice over IP, distributed PBXs?
    • What is Tracy's list of questions for ITAC/OIT?
    • How can grant proposals fit into larger projects and security issues?
    • Bandwidth management - Resnet for example.