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iSchool announces creation of Center for Convergence and Emerging Network Technologies

February 01, 2010

Margaret Spillett
(315) 443-1069

The Center for Emerging Technologies (CENT) and the Convergence Center have merged to create the new Center for Convergence and Emerging Network Technologies (CCENT). Carlos Caicedo, assistant professor in the Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool), was named director of CCENT. The mission of CCENT is to understand the future of networking technologies and to engage students, faculty and industry in the process of defining and shaping that future, says Caicedo.

The merge occurred after Assistant Dean for Technology Dave Molta, director of CENT, and Milton Mueller, director of the convergence center, recognized the synergy between the two centers, Caicedo says.

The Center for Emerging Network Technologies provided leading industry insight and analysis for emerging information technologies within the IT enterprise. The center aimed to enhance the educational experience of iSchool undergraduate and graduate students through applied hands-on testing of new products and services.

The Convergence Center started in 1999 and gave iSchool graduate students an opportunity to work on real convergence projects submitted by various businesses such as Nortel, AT&T and Kodak. The Convergence Center projects focused on the policy and economics practices within these businesses, Mueller says.

“With CENT and the Convergence Center combined, we can address technology and policy aspects in a more integrated fashion,” Caicedo says. “This combined view of new technologies will lead to contributions—including papers and research reports—that will be of value, make use of the CCENT’s faculty expertise, and position the center and the iSchool as key contributors in the analysis of emerging technologies.”

Currently, 14 iSchool graduate students are working at CCENT with eight faculty members whose expertise will help bridge technology and policy on a range of research projects.

“Through our testing of new technologies, we have been elaborating and will continue to elaborate instructional material and demos that will enhance the content of several of the courses in the iSchool,” Caicedo says. “This will benefit our students greatly. In addition to becoming a research hub for the exploration of technology and policy aspects related to emerging technologies, my hope is that CCENT will become a provider of innovative educational material on these technologies for the iSchool.”

CCENT currently has setup four testbeds for studying emerging network technologies, including:

• Wireless networking (802.11n): The work on this testbed has focused on elaborating product performance tests for wireless devices. Last fall, the researchers focused on evaluating the performance of 802.11n devices from several vendors. Laboratory exercises and demos for iSchool courses on wireless technologies were also conducted.

• Network security: Researchers conduct experiments that demonstrate information security vulnerabilities, test and evaluate IT security products and technologies. In this process, they create laboratory modules that can be used in courses on information security at the iSchool. Their aim is to enhance the iSchool’s evolving curriculum by continuously coming up with comprehensive support manuals that aid students’ understanding of topics in information security.

• Unified communication systems: This group studies technologies for communication systems that integrate voice, data and video services. Currently, they are focusing on software-based PBX systems that support voice-over-IP services. CCENT’s phones will be working under one of these systems as a case study. Additionally, demonstrations of the capabilities and quality of service issues surrounding voice-over-IP technology have been developed for use in iSchool courses.

• Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6): Researchers in this area investigate the inner-workings of the IPv6 protocol with a focus on its security vulnerabilities. IPv6 is the updated version of one of the main protocols that makes the Internet work. They have configured a small IPv6 network in which they perform several security attacks in order to characterize their impact on a network and their possible countermeasures. The study of similar issues on Mobile IPv6 networks is under way this semester. This work will also result in the creation of demos and lab exercises about the IPv6 protocol.

In general, the center is testing these technologies and using their findings to produce educational material, such as written and video demonstrations, lab guidelines and research reports. The center also works closely with the Wireless Grids Innovation Testbed (WiGit) project led by Lee McKnight (iSchool), looking at applications for wireless grids.

“I like bringing faculty together to look at policy and technical aspects of new technologies,” Caicedo says. “I have also been establishing relationships with faculty of other schools in SU, which I hope will result in an array of interdisciplinary projects in the future. In general, the iSchool’s environment of interdisciplinary work and diverse faculty experience has been very beneficial to me as a new faculty member and the center.”

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