Duke ITAC - November 12, 2020 Minutes
Agenda – November 12, 2020
4:00 – 4:05 – Announcements (5 minutes)
David MacAlpine begins by calling for approval of three sets of minutes: September 17, October 15, October 29; these minutes are approved.
4:05 – 4:30 p.m. – Code+ 2020 and beyond, Jen Vizas, Isabel Taylor (15-minute presentation, 10-minute discussion)
What it is: Code+ is a 10-week project-based summer coding experience for Duke undergraduate students. Students participate in small project teams, defining the projects and developing IT products and solutions, while mentored by tech professionals from Duke and sponsoring organizations. Code+ enables students to learn at the leading edge of technology, leveraging innovative platforms, and tools. Projects this year ranged from combating food insecurity on campus to matching volunteer opportunities with community needs.
Why it’s relevant: The success of the Code+ program has produced prototypes that could turn into longer projects for the benefit of the Duke community and beyond. We will share the outcomes from the Code+ 2020 cohort and discuss what do we do with the projects that seem to have legs.
Jen Vizas begins by stating this presentation is a continuation of previous conversations on Code+. Code+ is a 10-week program that had to pivot to a virtual program this summer due to Covid restrictions. Several Code+ students have presented their projects to ITAC. Jen introduces Isabel Taylor who is a project manager on Jen’s team and who has been coordinating and planning for Code+.
Isabel says that 49 undergraduates participated in Code+ over the summer. There were 11 projects. A MIDS graduate student and 15 OIT team lead liaised with students. When building a project team, the goal is to have a 50-50 split between men and women. The Code+ program was kicked off with workshops including, technical training, a panel discussion with Code+ alums. There were two presentation skills sessions one on presenting online and one on presenting in person. Then, the feedback was given after teams’ presentations and progress could be seen. Another workshop was on resume and portfolio building. An Entrepreneurial You class was presented by Fuqua.
In a post-program survey with 100% participation, students thought Code+ would help them get an internship in the future and would help them with coursework. Students felt their technical skills (including Ruby on Rails, REST APIs, JSON, SCodes, and Swift) were significantly improved. Students especially wanted more support while first learning and social team building activities. The students greatly valued the soft skills that they gained. Isabel underscores how pleased the students were with how rigorous the learning and projects were and the pride that the Code+ students felt with the work that they accomplished.
Code+ sponsors include:
Cisco – security-related projects
Code+ products in production include:
Duke Notify tool which is used for SymMon andDuke United
Each project had a Minimum Viable Product requirement which including a web or app product.
Please visit https://codeplus.duke.edu
Jen spoke to What’s Next?
- There will be a Winter Code+ mini-session as there is a long winter break for the students due to Covid.
- 25 students
- 5 weeks
- Duke Notify will be built onto with mobile app.
- Duke Rewards will be taken to beta.
- Duke Bulletin will be made open source
- Feed Every Devil will be taken to beta next fall.
- Planning for Summer 2021 is underway.
- Brainstorming sessions.
- Duke internal inquiries and requests for projects.
- Corporate inquiries are being made.
- Phase 2 of some projects.
Last year, there were 10 projects and 50 students. Jen says they are looking for the sweet spot of how many projects and students are best. Other goals include connect sponsors with academic programs for recruitment, raising brand awareness, and deepening relationships with companies. The PennLab model is of particular interest. John Board adds that the Penn model shows students what it takes to support an entire portfolio: how to maintain and support offerings, how to decide what falls off, etc. Duke needs to institutionally figure out how to harness these Code+ projects as they have with Duke Notify. Jen adds that Penn started paying the students but then, the students were focusing on punching the clock, so Penn took pay away and is focusing on passion projects.
In summary, challenges include:
Scale: What is our capacity?
Sustainability: What to do with projects that seem to have legs?
Code+ would like suggestions for projects for the coming year.
Q. David MacAlpine asks about the virtual world challenges and how this was balanced with social interactions.
A. Jen says it was tough; students wanted to be engaged and wanted social interaction but unless it was built into their workday, they didn’t have much time for it.
- John Board says the student did not want more Zoom. Some students wanted to socialize but some did not.
- Tracy – The remote environment made socializing more difficult due to the multiple time zones of the students.
4:30 – 4:55 p.m. – DTech, Amy Arnold, Shani B, Kelly Perri (15 minutes presentation, 10 minutes discussion)
What it is: DTech is a comprehensive effort to empower the next generation of diverse leaders who will bring increased innovation to the tech industry. Through internship experiences, community-building, and mentorship, hundreds of students have gained the inspiration, skills, and confidence needed to succeed in technical majors and careers.
Why it’s relevant: Learn more about how DTech pivoted to an online format last summer and identified opportunities to have an even greater impact at Duke and beyond.
Amy Arnold started the presentation before handing the stage to Shani by mentioning that it is great to be here with the ITAC group. Amy said that they are looking for feedback from the ITAC group since they are in the beginning stages of developing a strategy for the coming years of DTech.
Next, Shani started presenting and mentioned the mission statement for DTech which is to “Empower the next generation of diverse leaders to bring increase innovation to the tech industry”.
Shani gave background information on the beginning stages of DTech. In 2016, when DTech was founded, the focus of the program was on computer science and engineering majors. During the program, summer internships were available, co-housing in hub cities (bay area as a start), paired with industry mentors, and participate in workshops & tech company visits throughout the summer. Shani compared the number of scholars participating in the program in 2016 with that of this year. In 2016, 10 scholars participated. In 2020, 108 scholars participated in the program.
Shani then continued to highlight some key outcomes.
- 100% of the scholars have graduated with CS and/or Engineering Degrees.
- Students cite major impact.
Shani shared a few comments from DTech scholars. These comments praised the program with comments saying that DTech changed their view of what one can accomplish with technology, other comments mentioned self-growth and confidence in continuing to pursue careers in the tech industry.
These scholars are graduating with degrees and entering tech roles. 68% have roles classified as Software/Solutions Engineer, 11% have roles as Data Scientist/business Analysts and other roles within the tech industry.
Next, Shani transitioned to Amy so that Amy can speak about how the Summer 2020 program went, some lessons learned, what are the next steps, and then collect feedback from the ITAC group regarding the strategy for the next steps.
To highlight some of the lessons learned during Summer 2020, Amy mentioned that the program overall has worked great. Although with the COVID restrictions of scholars not being able to work at companies in person, Amy said that they had to think about how to support students in these times. To do so, they,
- provided training to scholars on how to do a good job at a remote internship by leveraging past scholars to help with that.
- Zoom workshops with the students where they brought in panels, alums, and other industry leaders to help with various topics. One of the top workshops led by Dean Valerie Ashby was aimed to help students with impostor syndrome. There were also other topics to try to help students to be successful in their remote internships.
- Like past summer programs, scholars were matched with a mentor from the industry which turned out well.
- Students came up with Hack-DTech, the first annual hackathon which was a big success. This was an effort in supporting The Black Lives Matter organizations working towards racial justice.
- Prep, a program to help students prepare for fall recruiting.
- 98% of 2020 Scholars would recommend DTech to another student.
- 89% said it had a great or moderate impact on their confidence in their CS/engineering capabilities
- Strong mentoring relationships were formed.
- Community building is much more difficult without in-person activities
- There are benefits to online programming - speakers can present through zoom nationwide.
- Implications for future:
- Need to find ways for students to spend time together in-person if possible
- A hybrid programming model can enable us to support students in non-DTech hubs during the summer.
Next Amy talked about the strategy going forward which aims to have a bigger impact on the students, alumni, tech industry, and at Duke. Some of the ways to accomplish this are by:
- Connect MS/HS students with Duke role models
- Support Duke Admissions
Expand and improve school year Member program by:
- Explore program for students new to tech
- More support for hardware careers
- Interest groups
- Recruiting support beyond DTech hubs
- Diversity in Tech Fair
- Activities to foster an inclusive culture
Expand summer program for Scholars & Members
- DTech light model in new locations
- Some online workshops for all members
- Investigate potential ways to support underrepresented men in tech
Invest in the Alumni Program
- Alum sponsors
- Leadership courses
- Annual retreats
Based on all of this, Amy mentioned the Target outcomes. These outcomes are separated into student outcomes and university outcomes.
- More underrepresented students choose to study CS and Engineering
- More underrepresented students graduate from Duke with CS and Engineering degrees
- Duke Alums thrive in tech careers & bring more diversity into industry and academia
- Improved visibility and stature of Duke programs
- More inclusive culture
- Stronger connections with Duke Alumni
This concluded the presentation and Amy asked the group to give them feedback about the strategy proposed.
Q: for those people that here today that want to get involved, do you have a way or thoughts on how to engage people and perhaps crowdsource assistance for the program?
A: Great question. Yes and no. We have not thought about crowdsourcing support. But we would like to think more about that. There are many ways for people to get involved. One thing that we do is we match every student with a mentor. So that’s one way of how people can get involved. Also, ideas for projects that students might be able to work on during the summer. Also if anybody has ideas about presenting at one of our workshops would be great.
Q: Most DTech Scholars after they graduate end up in California and Silicon Valley, do you have some geographical breadth there in different places?
A: I don’t have the numbers in front of me. But the majority, at least half of the students do end up in the bay area. We have a pretty good cohort in Seattle, a lot in New York. A few others in Chicago and then spread out in other places.
Q: You mentioned looking at matching students with other students in the same general location during internship times for cohousing as something that in the future that you assist with?
A: our initial model was that we would provide housing, and we still probably will continue to do so. But we feel like, in other locations where maybe we are not providing housing, we can match and can help students find roommates and still get some of those benefits of cohousing.
Steffen commented on the program's approach to being on the right track of trying to go back as far as trying to integrate middle and high school students along with underrepresented groups into the STEM fields. Amy commented on this and said that this is one of the most fun parts about working on this program because you get to see the students build confidence through the program and are grateful for what they have been given.
Q: It sounds like the placement into tech in Silicon Valley is working great, what about also continuing in science towards PhDs?
A: We have, I think 6 alums who are in Masters/Ph.D. programs. They are spread out in different universities. I do think however that there is room for improvement in supporting students who want research careers.
This concluded the DTech Scholar presentation. Up next, OnShape@Duke with Chip and Mark.
4:55 – 5:20 p.m. – Onshape@Duke, Chip Bobbert, Mark Palmeri (15 minutes presentation, 10 minutes discussion)
What it is: Onshape@Duke is a project that seeks to implement the Onshape product here at Duke. Onshape is a cloud computer-aided design (CAD) software system that enables anyone to create CAD drawings in a browser on any computer or through a mobile app. This presentation will provide an introduction to the service and outline the planned project schedule – including feedback from the first semester of testing.
Why it’s relevant: Onshape@Duke helps solve the challenge of providing faculty and students easy access to CAD software on any computer and provide real-time collaboration on projects. The service will allow students to simultaneously work on the same project and improve the ability for faculty to assess how effectively student teams are working together. Chip worked closely with PTC, the parent company of Onshape, and convinced them to create an educational portal for their product. Duke is the first institution to deploy it.
Chip Bobbert reports on the pilot for Onshape@duke. Onshape@duke is a little different from the traditional CAD software in that it is a pure cloud CAD tool. Because Onshape@duke is cloud-based, it provides the ability to do what would otherwise be difficult to do on your computer. OnShape is like google docs but for CAD and design. While there are other effective tools for CAD, few are as agile as Onshape.
Onshape is cofounded by Jon Hirschtick and John McEleney both of whom worked for and were CEOs of SolidWorks. PTC purchased Onshape for $470M which took the company out of start-up mode. Duke proposed an education environment and this is what has been piloted at Duke’s CoLab.
Duke controls the Onshape license and admin portal. No software installation is required; access is via the web portal. This past summer Autodesk changed its licensing terms for offshore students; this is not an issue with Onshape because it is web-based. Other advantages of Onshape include a very deep and accurate analytics module, version control of files, and the ability to unify versions, and that fact that there is no external data to manage as everything is in the cloud.
Chip, then, demoed Onshape, beginning with a gasket cutting die example, showing the ease of use and real-time collaboration with others via the web interface. A tree structure works to assemble the device. Chips changes pin size, views another persion (Moshan, a Co-Lab student) making changes and adding comments on parts, assigns tasks to a colleague, makes the gasket wider, shows how all changes are tracked and how changes propagate through the tree, receives an assignment from Moshan and marks it as done. Joanna, another Co-Lab student, is building a rocket in Onshape and demo changing a variable command, social networking, and the hashtag extractor.
Onshape@duke was piloted by two engineering classes and several researchers. Approximately 200 users have enrolled and 119 are active users. There have been 516 projects and 316 hours of modeling. Chips especially like watching the interactions with the files online, the great visualizations, all available because Onshape is cloud-based.
Mark Palmeri speaks of using Onshape with two design classes for biomedical engineering. This was great for these classes as they were having issues with licensing. Marks appreciates being able to see the steps the students took to make parts. Mark can look at the student’s approach and give feedback on how to make the process easier and more efficient. Mark can also look at the summary of students and thinks the collaborative nature of Onshape is helpful.
Chip answers “Why another CAD product?” by giving an overview of the field:
-Huge install footprint
-Active network connection needed
-Free Edu account activation issues
-Mac and Windows
-Increasingly complex UI
-Increasingly worse UX/collaboration
-Feels like we are beta testers
--need an active network connection
--no install overhead
-Stable sharing and collaboration
-poor team management
-the inability to assign Sakai-like instructor/TA roles
-Some performance bottlenecks
Jackson Kennedy, a student who worked with Joanna on the aero shape, says Onshape is a huge positive.
Q. David MacAlpine asks is Onshape broadly available?
- Chip says yes but to obtain access, you must send an email for now. They are working on SSO but for now, they are manually provisioning the account. SSO is Single Sign-On and is how you access everything Duke right now so they hope to add this soon.
- Mark adds that they can do export provisioning from Sakai as an example.
- Tracy adds that Richard would not like the possibility of anyone reusing their Duke password for Onshape so let’s get SSO as soon as possible.
5:20 – 5:30 p.m. – Common Solutions Group, Tracy Futhey, John Board, Charley Kneifel, Mark McCahill (10 minutes presentation)
What it is: The Common Solutions Group (CSG) works by inviting a small set of research universities to participate regularly in meetings and project work. These universities are the CSG members; they are characterized by strategic technical vision, strong leadership, and the ability and willingness to adopt common solutions on their campuses.
Why it’s relevant: CSG meetings comprise leading technical and senior administrative staff from its members, and they are organized to encourage detailed, interactive discussions of strategic technical and policy issues affecting research-university IT across time. We would like to share our experiences from the most recent meeting held in September.
John Board started the discussion and mentioned that CSG has been affected by COVID like anything else.
Some takeaways from the CSG meeting that John mentioned:
- The first workshop was regarding how institutions were doing, how was everyone coping with COVID.
- Another workshop entailed how to extend network and security protections into people's homes in a broad way.
- A workshop on lessons learned from online labs, film studios, and music.
- The status of IT was viewed as a central and important role during these times.
- One aspect in which Duke can do better is in how to help faculty direct these online lectures and especially the hybrid experience.
- Schools that don’t have a Medical school appeared to not do so well. understanding epidemiology is helpful to schools with a medical school.
John then asked Mark McCahill to share his thoughts:
- One university is using its vet School to run its PCR COVID tests.
- One highlight is that schools that seem to be doing reasonably well with students on campus are due to doing a lot of surveillance testing like Duke. Having dashboards of what's going on with testing has helped these schools.
- There was a big concern in the extending network and security to people's home due to how can this be tracked, and how there is less visibility for the security office to know what's going on.
- One university allowed students to have a judiciary role in the results of how the school implemented minimizing the spread of COVID. if things did not work out with the school's approach, the students would have conversations with the school, and they would also figure out what the penalties should be.
Charley Kneifel also shared his thoughts:
- The sharing of things that worked and things that do not work with other institutions was very helpful.
- One university implemented barcode scanning into their app. Duke also did something similar and used it in the SYMMON app.
Concluding the CSG talk, David adjourned the meeting.