The University Record, January 24, 2000

Dell program funds U-M projects

By Wanda Monroe
Office of the Chief Information Officer

Faculty members Elliott Soloway (from left), John Laird and Peter Honeyman talk with Cathy Arledge of Dell Computer Corp. All three have projects funded by the Dell STAR program. Photo by Paul Jaronski, U-M Photo Services
Representatives from Dell Computer Corp. awarded the University of Michigan $125,000 at a Jan. 14 campus reception. The funds will be shared by faculty involved in six research initiatives that encourage innovation in education by applying information technology.

Dell awarded the funds as part of a new program called Dell STAR—Strategic Technology and Research. Other universities currently participating in the program are Duke University, Florida A&M University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University and the University of North Carolina.

“We are impressed with the innovation demonstrated in the Dell STAR proposals from the University of Michigan and look forward to seeing faculty, students and others benefit from the related research in technology and education,” said Pamela Hamilton, director of university relations at Dell.

“We appreciate the way in which the Dell Strategic Technology and Research program has recognized some of the exciting and innovative work that is taking place here at the University in research, instruction and technology,” said Josť-Marie Griffiths, university chief information officer. “The diversity of the projects themselves gives just a glimpse of the breadth and depth of the ways that our faculty and students are developing and integrating technology in the life and work of the University community.”

The funded projects and faculty contacts are:

  • Course in Applied Portfolio Management, Richard Sloan, professor of accounting. This course is designed to bridge the growing gap between traditional skills taught in the classroom and skills required in today’s business world. It will be centered around a high-technology financial research and trading room that incorporates the very latest in high-end workstations, financial data feeds and commercial financial research and trading software. In this setting, students will be able to combine finance theory with leading-edge technology to elevate themselves to the cutting-edge of the investment management profession.

  • Dell Science Project In Urban Schools, Elliot Soloway, professor of electrical engineering and computer science and of education. The Dell Science Project in Urban Schools will add a new layer of functionality to Viz-It, a scientific visualization tool used to analyze data as students look for relationships—for example, if the temperature increases, does the ozone increase? The results of the project will enable students to dynamically link image-based representations to the numeric representations already in Viz-It, creating smooth movement of all linked images in real-time.

  • Intelligent Synthetic Characters for Computer Games, John Laird, professor of electrical engineering and computer science. The goal of the Intelligent Synthetic Characters for Computer Games research is to extend computer games into new genres by developing human-like synthetic characters that participate in games. Current synthetic characters have limited reasoning abilities and fall short of human players in many dimensions, usually disrupting the game flow and destroying the illusion of alternative reality. Intelligent synthetic characters will greatly enhance multi-player games by populating the worlds with intelligent and interesting characters that play supporting roles. Synthetic characters also can extend role-playing and adventure games by requiring the navigation of social interactions.

  • Internet Market Games for e-Commerce Education, Michael P. Wellman, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science. Through this initiative, courseware will be developed that supports the conduct of interactive market games, which are designed to teach students about the mechanisms, issues and potential capabilities of electronic commerce. The emphasis will be on the process of automating core commerce functions and, where possible, engaging students in exercises in which they play a designated role in a simulated commerce activity.

  • Linux Scalability Project (LSP), Peter Honeyman, director, Center for Information Technology Integration. The primary goal of this project is to improve the scalability and robustness of the Linux operating system so that it can support greater network server workloads reliably, economically and efficiently. A primary focus will be single-system scalability, performance and reliability of network servers and other enterprise-scale infrastructure products running on Linux.

  • Launch-Ready Internet Start Ups, Joshua Coval, assistant professor of finance, corporate strategy and international business. This 14-week course centers on the creation of launch-ready Internet startups. It is designed to offer students interested in entrepreneurship an opportunity to turn their ideas into actual startup companies. The project is designed to bring together students with expertise in computer programming, finance, marketing and strategy to create launch-ready Internet startups. Business plan preparation, e-commerce strategy, Web site design and private equity financing will be channeled into the actual creation of e-businesses.