Microsoft Research Announces Sponsored University Projects For 2002

REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 14, 2002 — Professor Ellis Horowitz and his colleagues at the University of Southern California (USC) have longed to improve certain areas of computer-science education and expand research opportunities. But one key ingredient has been missing: the resources to fund and conduct the research — until now.

USC, in Los Angeles, is one of more than 25 universities around the globe that will receive financial assistance and other support from Microsoft Research (MSR), the companys computer-science division, to conduct research in different areas of emerging technology. In its first year, the Microsoft Research Request for Proposal (RFP) grant program garnered 83 submissions and will award US$1.9 million to 32 chosen projects, expanding Microsofts efforts to collaborate with academia and contribute to future technology advances.

Our university relations group has been working with and supporting computer science departments for a number of years, says Todd Needham, Research Programs Manager in MSR. The addition of an RFP process to our programs creates an opportunity to work side-by-side with computer scientists in academia to advance the state-of-the-art in emerging technology and educational practices.

MSR will place no restrictions on how the money is used, and, while there is a remarkable diversity of projects, they fall into four main areas of growing focus in academia: wireless and mobile technologies, Web services, improving computer-science curriculum, and learning sciences.

My students and I are able to conduct experiments that push the edges of current technology, says USCs Horowitz, a professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering.

USC will receive funding for several projects including the Technology for Interactive Distance Education (TIDE) system, a technology designed to facilitate feedback from students to instructors. More and more, were teaching students who are not physically located in the same place, Horowitz says. We have students in the same engineering class yet they live in New York and Hawaii. We struggle to help them feel more connected.

In the TIDE project, a computer at the front of the classroom records, organizes, and presents feedback from the students. The students access the system using wireless handheld devices and can ask questions or exchange ideas — with other students or the instructor — and provide instant feedback on the lecture material and presentation. The students can also comment on the speed and their understanding of the lecture, allowing the instructor to adapt his work.

Faculty Summit Expands Dialogue

The grant program is one example of how Microsoft collaborates with academia and helps educators produce better students and expand research opportunities. In an effort to continue dialogue and collaboration among corporate and academic researchers, Microsoft Research plans to announce details for the next round of RFPs at its third Faculty Summit, July 28 31, 2002 at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond, Washington. The annual MSR Faculty Summit is a forum for university faculty to learn about the latest Microsoft technologies and to build peer-to-peer relationships that will lead to research projects that serve the technology industry as a whole.

Microsoft is honored to partner with professors and students who are leading the exploration of important areas of computer science, Needham says. We continue to build relationships that will produce innovative solutions to the worlds technology challenges.

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