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December - 2007 - issue > Campus Reporter
The Gift of a Lifetime
Christo Jacob
Thursday, November 29, 2007
You may not know everything about the trends in technology. However if you crave for knowing everything about technology then it is now possible by virtual means. Envisioning this fact in the last two years, IBM India has invested millions of dollars in University Relations aiming at enriching the IT ecosystem. IBM has imparted training on open standards based technologies to more than 80,000 students in over 745 colleges in India during 2006. Realizing the fact that the virtualization of information technology resources is going to play a major role in education, research, and commercial computing solutions, IBM directs its focus towards evangelizing Open Source.

Today, universities provide excellent learning environment. However, many find it difficult to teach students about an IT transformation in progress, unless those driving the transformation - innovative IT companies - provide real-time input and support. Hence, aiming at delivering resource services through ‘images’ to college students and facilitate training up highly skilled computer professionals, IBM has invested thousands of dollars significantly to provide technology infrastructure in setting up Virtual Computing Labs in three Universities. The labs, which are expected to be operational from early 2008, will be set up at Amrita Vidyapeetham at Coimbatore, Uttar Pradesh Technical University, and University of Hyderabad. These labs, which will be equipped with high-end servers and storage, will help create a platform for Indian colleges and universities to collaborate and jointly work on complex computer intensive problems using simple thin clients by borrowing the virtual computing power through these labs. About 20,000 students and faculty across India will be able to collaborate on various projects related to IT infrastructure management and development of open source tools once the virtual labs become operational. The simplicity of implementation, versatility, cost effectiveness, and its non-conventional approach to “virtualization,” makes the program very flexible to deliver the required resources. In addition, IBM will assist universities with curriculum development and instructional material. Further, IBM provides middle ware software free of cost to enhance the students’ skills.

In this regard, IBM has launched a serious virtual game called Innov8, which is freely available for anyone registered on its IBM Academic Initiative site. Innov8 is a new game to help students develop a combination of IT and business skills. ‘Serious games’ are computer and video games used as educational and training tools.

“The game may be a simulation, but corresponds to non-game events or processes, including and processes. Just as airline pilots initially learn using flight simulators, many corporations and universities see serious games as a great way for teaching new skills to students,” says Amol B. Mahamuni, Program Director, IBM India University Relations.

This new paradigm of Virtual Computer Infrastructure and serious gaming will give birth to a global model of partnership between industries and academia to drive evolving open standards-based IT skills. “As India is moving from traditional cost arbitrage to value arbitrage, we are trying to provide the students with an atmosphere that trains them to be industry ready,” says Mahamuni.

As a part of its University Realtions, IBM has also collaborated with Visveswaraiah Technological University (VTU) for e-Learning. IBM is delivering two courses, using VTU’s edu-satellite (EDUSAT) network – High Performance Computing, Parallel Programming on CELL Processor and X10 Programming. Lectures via EDUSAT were beamed to 120 participating engineering colleges in Karnataka, reaching about 10,000 students. Every year, IBM awards eminent faculty for their research contributions and collaboration with them. This year 24 academicians bagged these prestigious IBM Faculty Awards. In yet another innovative program from IBM, aptly called Extreme Blue, IBM invited 28 students for three month internships which resulted in many of these students walking away with a patent application in their name.

“Unlike in the U.S., today most of the students here are used to the traditional form of classroom training. They need to utilize the best of the ecosystem and should learn to solve real life industry problems,” says Mahamuni. IBM’s University Relations continues to orchestrate many other shows to make the students industry ready for the future. The idea is not to feed them for a day, but for a lifetime.

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