4:00 - 4:05pm: Announcements 


  • Victoria Szabo: calls meeting to order, thanks David MacAlpine for his tenure as ITAC committee chair.
  • Tracy Futhey: David went above and beyond, serving as chair during two years of the Pandemic, and staying on for an extra six months. MacAlpine presented with custom gavels created in the Duke Co-Lab.
  • Victoria Szabo: Provost’s Forum 2023, “Big Problems in Big Tech,” scheduled for February 17.
  • Victoria Szabo introduces Prasad Kasibhatla from NSOE.
  • Tracy Futhey: Kasibhatla will be a regular guest this semester, and is likely to become a formal ITAC representative later this year. He is also member of one of the ITAC working groups for research IT.
  • Victoria Szabo: Chase Barclay will return as an ITAC undergraduate representative, replacing Jax Nalley who has been subbing for Chase, but is a Robertson Scholar@UNC this semester.
  • Victoria Szabo: Condolences on Roger Lloyd’s passing. He was a member of ITAC for 12 years and affiliated with Duke Divinity.


4:05 - 4:45pm: Special Guest: Jerry Lynch (40 minutes)

What it is: Each year ITAC has the opportunity to hear from selected senior leaders. This week we are pleased to welcome the Vinik Dean of the Pratt School of Engineering, Jerry Lynch, who will answer questions and share his perspective on emerging technologies and the future of engineering education and research after his first year at Duke.

Why it’s relevant: Lynch’s background is in urban and civil engineering, focusing on adaptive infrastructure and improving communities through smart technology. He comes to Duke after 19 years at the University of Michigan. ITAC members are invited to pose their questions to him.


Jerry Lynch opens with reflection on one-year anniversary at Duke, and how he has enjoyed being a part of an outstanding community of scholars. 

  • Pratt is still growing in terms of faculty, students and research areas. 
  • Pratt is unique in the way it is situated within the larger University, especially the way it utilizes cross-collaboration with other disciplines. With the complex problems we face right now, it’s important that these disciplines that leverage technology are in concert with each other.


John Board: Can you do a comparative analysis of Duke vs. U. Michigan in regards to computing, both the practical and the abstract?


  • An area where Duke truly excels is its robust offering of maker spaces and the way computing is brought forward to students.
  • On the research side, the two universities are more comparable, giving cluster technology and parallel computing as examples.
  • Typical of large state universities with public oversight, U. Michigan does a more effective job leveraging computer capabilities by streamlining and automating its processes. There are more manual processes here at Duke, he said.


Tracy Futhey: Can you comment on Pratt’s vision statement or approach to the Cloud?    


  • The Cloud provides an opportunity in our research to procure services as we need for the appropriate scale. 
  •  Another important role the Cloud plays is focusing on working with communities and stakeholders off campus. The cloud provides a pathway for more use-inspired research at scale.

Lynch: PhD students here at Duke can sometimes lose time when it comes to things like deploying virtual machines or building applications. It’s a current pain point and some groups are duplicating their efforts. Expertise needs to be centralized.


Prasad Kasibhatla: Can you comment on quantum computing, from a research and hardware perspective?


  • Pratt is one of the leading programs to be working in that space, including the work of Professors Christopher Monroe, Ken Brown, Jungsang Kim, and others.
  • Duke Quantum Center (DQC) focuses on the full quantum computing stack and the host of ways to utilize the quantum computer. Research at DQC spans different areas, from theory to the opening up of computing capability to applications that silicon-based computers can’t handle.
  • Duke is in a unique position because of its collaboration with IONQ and other companies. They are exploring partnerships and leveraging current relationships to “accelerate us up on the computing stack.”
  • The 2022 CHIPS Act will fuel a lot of current investment in quantum computing. CHIPS will provide a lot of opportunities for funding. Quantum research is front and center at the DOD’s Microelectronics Commons.

Ken Rogerson: Can you comment on Pratt’s collaboration with other campus groups, both the “low hanging fruit” as well as groups that they are currently exploring partnerships?

  • Pratt has historically had a rich collaboration with the Duke School of medicine, including  current collaborations with AI and ML data as it applies to healthcare problems.
  • Genetic medicine is another field that fosters collaboration, including a number of faculty looking at the human genome. There is increasing awareness of protein structures that control the signaling of the genome, part of a current trend of looking at manipulation of genetics to approach diseases vs. a historical focus on chemical interventions.
  • Duke Science and Technology (DST) is now putting Machine Learning at a very high level of prioritization, from theory to systems.
  • There is collaboration with Sanford on complex questions related to data governance.  They have been focusing on cybersecurity as well as what policy interventions can be used to produce more equitable outcomes. 
  • Opportunities are limitless in terms of collaboration at Duke.


Tracy Futhey: Do you have guidance or experience from your time at U. Michigan which might be helpful in thinking about getting the University and Duke Health sides to collaborate in a better or different way?

  • I didn’t have a lot of experiences directly in the health care spaces at U. Michigan.
  • At U. Michigan there were initiatives that drove priorities for investments in things like SPARC clusters to provide better data at scale. 

Prasad Kasibhatla: Are “Healthy Building Programs” and if that is something Duke should embark on?


  • What we learned from the Pandemic is that a lot of what we were doing was basic environmental engineering—how to monitor, assess and control environments to get better public health outcomes.
  • Pratt has one of the leading environmental engineering programs in the country, including Claudia Gunsch and her work on the microbiome and the interplay between humans and environment.  Researchers are looking at how they can control the microbiome for better public health outcomes.


Paul Jasket: Can you discuss the humanities and their role in this collaboration?

  • The humanities are part of our tradition of training engineers.
  • There is the Trinity curriculum with its strong focus on the humanities.
  • Generative AI is taking us to the realm of the humanities, have had conversations with Mohammed Noor and now Gary Bennett on this subject.  Looking at AI and application to humanities.


Zoe Tischaev:  Trinity curriculum takes an interdisciplinary approach; how are you using that same model within the Pratt curriculum?


  • Accreditation drives the curriculum. Pratt has created 6 programs; 5 accredited BSE degree programs plus the BSE interdisciplinary option. The interdisciplinary option creates flexibility for students.
  • There are a number of students who choose a double major, minor, or certificate. Most common double majors are computer science and economics.
  • Pratt encourages students to explore; humanities fundamental for answering big questions.

Mark Palmeri:  There are some classrooms that aren’t equipped with modern technology.  How do we get to a common denominator for classrooms?

  • Lynch: Provost has allocated budgets for upgrading technologies that exist within our learning environment. It is a high priority.
  • Tracy Futhey: Jerry mentioned funding commitment from Provost; Let’s further defer this to Evan Levine and Ed Gomes on this point.
  • Ed Gomes:  We should follow up after the meeting.


Victoria Szabo: What do you see as the future of engineering education?

  • The future of engineering education is much more based on experiential learning. My predecessor helped make investments in first year design, which is now a hallmark feature of our program. We are continuing on that trajectory and doing more with it.
  • We place experiential learning opportunities in our curriculum; a lot of these are coming from industry and practitioners in professional settings.
  • There are opportunities to work with stakeholders so students understand the complexity of employing technologies and who is benefiting from those technologies.  There will be more opportunities for community-based problem solving.
  • We want to make sure that curriculum and program remain very welcoming for individuals of all identities. We view that as an essential part of driving innovation.



4:45 – 5:00pm: IT Support for Research: Update on Working Groups– Tracy Futhey (15 minutes)

  • What it is: Over the past year, a report was created that compiled and explained process recommendations for improving IT support for research at Duke. This information came from multiple working sessions with faculty culminating in a final session in August where ITAC members voted on prioritization of the IT needs. After presentation to multiple leadership teams in December, the process has moved on to Phase 2.
  • Why it’s relevant: Today we’ll hear about the formation and structure of the working groups which will propose solutions to the needs identified in Phase 1.




Victoria Szabo:  Update on IT Support for Research working groups, turn to Tracy Futhey

Tracy Futhey presents update on IT Support for Research working groups, slides:



  • December marked the end of Phase 1 with a report that was given to the Academic Council. Phase 1 was a faculty driven needs assessment process; initial process was also driven by ITAC as a sponsor of the activity.
  • Now is beginning of Phase 2, which will be focused on developing solutions through working groups (WGs.)
  • Futhey will be working closely with the Vice President for Research (Jenny Lodge) and Vice Provost for Library Affairs (Joe Salem.) The 3 of them will also be sponsoring each of the working groups, along with additional academic leaders.
  • Phase 2 is service partner driven; Phase 3 will be institutionally determined.
  • As of January, 5 of 6 WGs have been established.  Each WG contains sponsors, team leads, members, faculty champions, and staff facilitators (see slides for list of names.)
  • Sponsors are there to answer questions and serve as guides, and advocate for practical proposed solutions.  Team leads are co-chairs who guide process. Faculty champions are there to provide feedback. Teams also include staff facilitators who meet every other week.
  • WGs will be meeting over next 10 weeks, including weekly meetings with team leads, bi-weekly meetings including rest of team members, as well as some faculty check-ins.
  • All WGs will convene for a poster session. Group findings should be available by mid-April.
  • There were 6 findings from Phase 1.  Final report available at  https://duke.is/72sjn

with summary of findings as they relate to people, processes, structures, and technology.  Findings and recommendations are interdependent.


Tracy Futhey: Questions?


Brandon Le: After this period will we get reports from these working groups with suggestion?


Tracy Futhey: I hope that 6-8 weeks in, we will have a poster session with all groups, inviting a number staff and faculty. We can use it as a chance for feedback and suggestions before the formal conclusion of Phase 2.

Lindsey Glickfield: Jenny Lodge and Joe Salem are on all groups? 

Tracy Futhey: Tracy, Jenny and Joe are all on the groups (although Joe is not on the one specific to OIT.)  There is a lot of cross-pollination with groups.  The third phase will be the hardest, where we say “here are the big things we need to change.” The phase will involve a number of people including the President, the Provost the Executive Vice President, Vice President for Research, Deans.  My feeling is “bullish” on this. The President has heard this first phase conversation twice.  We might need to present this as a pilot with an expanding phase.


Victoria Szabo: John Board to provide update on Common Solutions Group (CSG)


5:00 – 5:15pm: CSG Update – John Board (15 minutes)

         What it is: The Common Solutions Group (CSG) is comprised of a small set of research universities that 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: At CSG meetings, the members engage in detailed, interactive discussions of strategic technical and policy issues affecting research-university IT across time. There are updates from the last two meetings to share with ITAC.


John Board:  CSG met for the first time at Florida State University, a new CSG member institution. First workshop was “Great Customer Service” and gave an interesting focus on a customer-centric point of view of how services are delivered.  Learned quite a bit from the exercises.

Charley Kneifel: An important takeaway was how we are focusing the design work that makes sense for different groups--for example, the SISS office and student services.

Evan Levine:  Yes, it was really about service design. I would like to give a plug to the creative and user experience group in OIT.  In last few years they have been branching out more from web development. They have been working more with different groups, such as the SAP Team and Admissions.  Accessibility is now part of usability. They’ve met with Admissions on mapping out the whole student journey through various campus systems and services.  

John board: The buzzword is Customer Experience (CX) vs. User Experience (UX.)   As IT professionals, we tend to think our job is finished when, for example, we’ve gotten one website to work.  But, it doesn’t mean that the service it underpins is. 

Evan Levine: As IT professionals we tend to get excited about the technology. When we make something cool we tend to think “mission accomplished.”  But at the conference, they were asking us questions like “do you think the user is frowning or smiling?”

John Board: There was also the obligatory ChatGPT moment where the CIO of Virginia Tech asked ChatGPT these same questions related to CX, and the list it came up with reproduced quickly virtually everything the room had come up with.  Also, one of our peers documented that students at their university went through 300 different web experiences during their time at the university.

Evan Levine: Second workshop was on evolution of the classroom:

  • There was a presentation on the “Live Remote Teaching Classroom,” including Harvard’s $25 million classroom that has its own production team. (Duke has less extreme examples of these classrooms, for example at Fuqua, that have three screens.)
  •  There were discussions about institutional investments as findings showed that it’s not always the “latest and greatest” technology that is needed, but the issue of what to do with a large number of classrooms. 
  •  Faculty are wanting to teach using new technologies and methodologies which drives more demand for better-configured spaces.  Not just traditional classrooms, but also smaller rooms, meeting rooms, that haven’t been used in that way before.
  • Ed Gomes and I have been part of an effort that the Provost has been funding for Trinity and Pratt.  What we are finding is that we have to be careful about zoom-integrating rooms that still might not work well after the implementation. Faculty are demanding more reliability with the technology. We are re-focusing our efforts to focus on rooms that have higher use. 

John Board:  Last workshop was on “research frustrations.”  That our faculty are having at our peer institutions. I presented for first 30 minutes, Charley and Mark were also involved in the session.

Charley Kneifel: Mark led a good discussion related to “getting out of google.”

Victoria Szabo: Any last questions?

Preston Nibley:  Going back to the comments about all the different websites students have to navigate during their experience here: this is something that we’ve looked at in student government.  How do you consolidate resources?

John Board:  There was a great effort made by one of the groups to map out the entire student experience. Not all institutions prioritize this, because students will still come to the university regardless.

Tracy Futhey: It’s the same issue we’ve talked about with the research tools. Everyone is designing their own piece, but not thinking about the whole ecosystem.

Preston Nibley:  We are actually working on the “mapping” part first.  Where is the nexus between websites?

Mark Palmeri: Duke’s myRESEARCHhome is a portal page that has become a page of links. The tool couldn’t accommodate and devolved from its original purpose.

Tracy Futhey: We have asked the leaders of myRESEARCHhome to come talk to ITAC so we can work out problems.

Victoria Szabo: Thank you, all.