IT Aloha!

September 5, 2008

ISI executive director Herbert Schorr and researcher Dan Davis went to Hawai‘i to renew long-standing ties with people and institutions on the island of Maui, and explore new opportunities for IT in education

ISI has long had a close professional and research relationship with Gene Bal and his staff at the Maui High Performance Computing Center(MHPCC), who invited them to the island. MHPCC is one of the nation's largest DoD supercomputing centers, focusing on signals processing and simulation.

In one of ISI's major projects, Davis and his Division Director, Dr. Bob Lucas, proposed a large Linux cluster that was funded by the DoD's High Performance Computing Modernization Program and is housed at the MHPCC.

For the last fifteen years the USC/MHPCC team has been the unrivaled provider of very large scale intelligent agent urban simulations for the DoD, often simulating cities with two million independent-agent entities.

During the visit, Davis and Schorr continued a year-long dialog with MHPCC on the utilization of some of the technology that was developed for the DoD to respond to the critical needs in K-12 education.

Davis has written several conference papers outlining this vision, in consultation with flag-rank military personnel from the DoD simulation and training community.

"Hawaiian schools provide a unique opportunity to do research," he notes "in that they have a statewide, monolithic school system, as opposed to the more traditional small school district systems found in all of the other states."

Davis noted that the ISI approach in its DoD modeling and educational work focused on centrally located high performance computing. "But, before we can talk about supporting users distributed across the U.S., we need to begin with experience gained a smaller but still extensive system. Having statewide support from a school system such as Hawai'i would be critical to bring these techniques into the general K-12 educational arena.".

While on Maui, Schorr and Davis had a full schedule, not only meeting with MHPCC personnel, but also government staff, business leaders and senior leaders of the Maui schools and elective officials, including Senator Dan Inouye and Irene Hirano, his USC alumna wife.

The ISI pair encountered the Senator at the annual recognition dinner for student researchers who have been supported by the Ke Alahele Foundation. Ke Alahelele is the Hawaiian term for "the Pathway" and is active in encouraging technical studies by Maui K-12 students. ISI is a supporter of the Foundation and was proud to show the USC colors at the reception and dinner.

Schorr and Davis took full advantage of the opportunity by recruiting amongst the High School students who looked like promising VSOE applicants and spoke with Maui educators and USC alumni, which left little time to enjoy the meal.