With national changes in business and technology, the UA is aiming to become a leading institute in information technology through education and awareness of rising issues such as Internet security and outsourcing jobs.
The UA is hosting three information technology events this week to raise information technology awareness: the week-long Department of Management Information Systems 30th Anniversary Conference, Internet2 Day today and Security Awareness Day tomorrow.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Management Information Systems Department, which has been ranked as a top-five MIS program by U.S. News & World Report for the last 16 years, 150 national leaders in education, business and government were invited to discuss innovations in their fields.
Mohan Tanniru, head of the MIS department, said because information system fields are going through dramatic changes due to outsourcing and the changing job market, the conference's theme is "Shaping the Future of Information Technology" to promote the development of innovative programs and cutting edge research.
Outsourcing is the movement of American jobs, usually in technical fields, to foreign countries that have cheaper labor costs.
"MIS programs across the country are looking at how to differentiate the students we educate, so they can find gainful employment and add value to the companies in the U.S.," Tanniru said.
One conference event was the Student Project Expo on Tuesday, which featured student presentations on the application of information technology in disciplines including fine arts, engineering, bio-computing and multimedia.
"We are involving students in the education process to become these practitioners or researchers in the future," said Bill Neumann, director of projects and lecturer for MIS.
Another conference highlight is an exhibit on historical storage devices at the Arizona Historical Museum, done in partnership with IBM, which runs through Saturday.
Tomorrow's keynote speakers are Nick Donofrio, a senior executive from IBM and Lester Thurow, former dean of Sloan School of Management at MIT.
Internet2 Day, held in the North Ballroom of Student Union Memorial Center from 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., also aims to educate UA faculty, staff and students about the features available with Internet2.
Essentially a second, faster Internet, Internet2's network, called Abilene, enables users to send big research projects and engage in video conferences, among many additional uses.
More than 200 universities use Internet2, which was founded in 1999 by the UA among other universities.
Bruce Kaplan, editor of telecommunications for CCIT, said Internet2 was created in response to increased traffic on the "commodity Internet" from e-mail, spam and other commercial uses.
"It's really clogged up and getting worse," Kaplan said. "If someone wants to use it for research, it's difficult because the traffic is so backed up."
Today's Internet2 Day will showcase applications to arts, humanities, education and engineering. Sessions planned will discuss video conferencing, health sciences and grid computing, and question-and-answer time with experts of Internet2.
Security Awareness Day, in the Kiva Room at the student union from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow, will round out the information technology events of the week.
Both Internet2 Day and Security Awareness Day events are free and open to the public.