The University Record, October 9, 2000

18 IT projects recognized by Smithsonian Computerworld Program

Editor’s Note: Click here for descriptions of the projects.

By Britt Halvorson

Seventeen individuals were present to receive Computerworld medallions. The medals have a Corinthian column—a symbol of the search for innovation, dedication, talent and achievement—on one side and the program’s motto, ‘A Search for New Heros,’ on the other. Photo by Bill Wood, U-M Photo Services
Dan Morrow, executive director of the Computerworld Smithsonian Program, “transported” audience members at the Oct. 5 Computerworld Smithsonian Awards Ceremony from a cold, rainy day in Ann Arbor to the bright green expanse of the National Mall, where the national anthem was played in front of the nearly 1,300 people at the Smithsonian “Castle” last April to honor Computerworld laureates.

The Oct. 5 awards ceremony, held in the Founders’ Room of the Alumni Center, reenacted a portion of the April medal festivities to honor 18 U-M information technology projects with the same excitement and prestige. Projects recognized varied from a Web site offering transnational analysis of refugee law to a cardiovascular diagnostic simulation for medical school students. Faculty members representing the projects were presented with a gilt pewter medal and read an official statement made by the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

“Thank you for your contributions to the long-term history of information technology,” Morrow told the U-M laureates, “not only because of the work itself and the immediate impact it will have in nursing, law, science and teaching, but also because of the impact it will have on a whole new generation of students, both those who see your work, learn from it and benefit from it, and those who have worked with you to develop these projects.”

Begun in 1988, the Computerworld Smithsonian Program honors innovative projects in information technology (IT) and, by doing so, attempts to document the information revolution. Each year, 100 chief executive officers and chairs of IT companies select outstanding projects, often submitted in case study or report form, that become part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Permanent Research Collection. When the program first started (when a 128K personal computer was “hot,” Morrow noted), project materials were collected on paper for the Smithsonian’s archives. Now, project information is accessible by the world on the Computerworld online archives, www.cwsmithsonian.org, and in the Smithsonian’s Permanent Research Collections. To date, 36 U-M IT projects have been added to the Smithsonian’s collections.

The 2000 U-M Computerworld laureates’ “achievements in the advancement of information technology contribute not only to the University of Michigan,” noted Jose-Marie Griffiths, university chief information officer, “but to those who carry their classroom work and experiences into society to share with others around the world.” Carl Berger, director of advanced academic technologies, Center for Advanced Research and Academic Technologies, and professor of science and technology education, read Griffiths’ statement during the ceremony. Griffiths, also professor of information, planned to be present, but was called out of town.

Berger said of the U-M honorees: “Their innovative projects have provided the rest of us with models for how information technology can serve the acquisition, the sharing and the creation of knowledge.”

The projects will provide stepping stones for future generations, Berger said, as they are readily available on the Internet and document our society’s great achievements in information technology. The U-M faculty members who have devoted time and energy to developing new instructional tools and information resources, Morrow remarked, help to fulfill the Computerworld Smithsonian Program’s “Search for New Heros.”