December 12, 2005
Representatives from North Carolina universities who help provide Internet, video-based distance learning, advanced computing and communications services every day to more than 500,000 students, teachers, administrators and state government workers met at the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN) Community Day to celebrate successes and discuss future collaboration initiatives.
NCREN, a statewide community network operated by MCNC, connects all of North Carolina's public universities, most of the state's private universities and colleges, and state government and other institutions to each other and to the Internet and national research networks including Internet2 and National LambdaRail.
One of the many discussions at the annual NCREN Community Day on Dec. 9 at the MCNC campus showcased how a professor at Louisiana State University, home to one of the largest groups of hurricane experts in the nation, relied on NCREN to hold video-based classes with his students.
When Hurricane Katrina struck, John Pine was visiting Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., where he teaches a video-based distance learning class along with a resident professor. Pine is director of LSU's Disaster Science and Management academic programs and studies the potential impact of natural and man-made hazards including the vulnerability of social, economic, and environmental resources. At the Community Day, Pine discussed the value of interactive video technologies in a live presentation from LSU with participants at ASU.
Other speakers included Molly Corbett Broad, president of the UNC 16-campus system; Robyn Render, vice president for information resources and chief information officer for the UNC system; and John Crites, president and chief executive officer of MCNC.
"NCREN is more than a network. It is a partnership of cooperation -- of people and organizations," Crites said. "Our ongoing collaboration in the development of NCREN is recognized internationally as a benchmark for serving outstanding universities and educational institutions with information technology resources to advance research and education. We are proud to be stewards of this tremendous asset for North Carolina, and we are honored to host a celebration with our partners that keep North Carolina on the leading edge of innovation."
Other presentations were made from university professors and leaders from across the state to share how NCREN enhances their students' learning experiences.
A UNC-Charlotte professor discussed how he teaches one of the nation's first Grid computing classes with live, interactive discussions in classrooms at 12 public, private and independent universities and colleges throughout the state with access from each location through NCREN to shared high-performance computing resources at MCNC.
Faculty from the departments of Biomedical Engineering at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill also discussed how their students have used the interactive video network to plan, design, build and evaluate medical devices to assist disabled people.
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