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interACT Presidential Summit 2010

The Globalized University Mobility, Communication and their Impact on Education & Research: Forum for discussion between interACT-Presidents, Industry leaders, and as workshop for scientists


The first Presidential Summit brought together the Presidents of
the seven interACT partners, as well as a select group of
interACT members and invited guests.  The workshop served as a forum for discussion between the Presidents, Industry leaders, and as a workshop for the scientists at the participating institutions around the topic of globalization of academic and research institutions in face of dramatic technological changes.

This first interACT Presidential Summit was held at Carnegie Mellon’s Silicon Valley Campus.  Right in the heart of Silicon Valley, CMU-SV is located at the NASA Ames Research Parc on Moffett Field, right off of 101.  

The Summit took place on two days:  The first (the 8th of Nov.) served as a meeting for the presidents and a discussion of common challenges.  The second (the 9th of Nov.) was a workshop for the faculty, department heads, deans and center directors from the participating Universities and research centers.  It also included leaders from industry, academia and
government to join in our discussion.





The Presidential Summit and its Workshop was an opportunity for the Presidents, Faculty and their Partners to discuss challenges and concerns that affect the future and the mission of our organizations. 











The Challenge


Research Universities and Research Laboratories today are confronted with fundamental changes in the way we learn and do research.  Disruptive new technologies offer unprecedented capabilities in mobility, communication, education, and robotics that free users from traditional barriers given by regional separation, culture, national boarders or language.  As a result they have begun to generate vastly broader communities that are no longer limited to any particular locale or cultural background.  Technology eliminates the need for meeting in one place, in one culture or one language:  We can learn remotely over the internet, we can learn on-the-job wherever we are.  We can learn using computer tutors and tools.  We teach or work with others across continents and time zones.  We can physically operate, manipulate and even represent ourselves remotely via robotic tools or humanoid extensions.  And we can teach, learn and collaborate with other humans in any culture and across language barriers.

 Universities and Research Centers, by contrast, have traditionally operated much more in a regional and national manner.  They typically derive significant financial resources from local or national governments, who view the success of their operation, education and the excellence of their research as an expression of regional/national pride, identity, source of a future workforce and as a source of regional inspiration, problem solving and innovation.  With increased globalization and mobility, however, modern Research Universities and Research Centers have begun to adjust.  Most of our institutions already carry out collaborative projects, operate educational programs in other countries and locations, and we all participate in international cooperation and exchange.

The Presidential Summit and its workshop explored the impact of these changes and proposed mechanism to respond more forcefully.  Rather than adjusting to external change, we aim to invent and spearhead the change.  During the Summit we examined how new human-human technologies could be embraced and developed to advance the mission and the role of the University in the 21st century.  We explored the organizational changes needed,
as well as develop an action plan for the technologies that make them possible.


Four key technologies were the basis for our discussion as they affect education and research:
-   Language Technology, Cross-lingual Communication
-   Robotics, Remote Presence, Remote Manipulation, Teleoperation and Telepresence
-   Instructional Technologies, Distance Learning, Open Learning/Courseware
-   Mobility and Mobile Devices

As we aim to expand the global reach of our activities, we also discussed policy issues, development,
funding, and financing in and between the partner countries.



The Idea


The Presidential Summit took place on Nov. 8 and 9, and had the following elements:
1.   Provide opportunity for the Presidents of the key Institutions in InterACT to meet (8th)
2.   Discussion of challenges facing Research Universities/Institutions today (8th)
3.   Presidential Public Response (8th)
4.   Workshop for Faculty to Deepen and Expand on the Presidential Agenda (9th)
5.   Discussion, Summaries and Planning (9th)




Each institution was represented by its president, but also by delegates, key faculty members, deans or department heads, who represent key technology or policy issues as outlined in the agenda, and who are prepared to engage in discussion on the challenges and opportunities during the workshop part of the Summit.




For the workshop on the 9th, participants were asked to prepare a short presentation and to participate in discussion.  To accommodate the large group of attendees while still allowing discussion and exchange between all members, we had brief lightning talks by all participants (3 mins) for each member to introduce their lab and their work and comments related to the theme of the summit/workshop.

Furthermore, there were four break-out sessions, one for each area:

  • Language Technology, Cross-lingual Communication
  • Robotics, Remote Presence, Remote Manipulation, Teleoperation and Telepresence
  • Instructional Technologies, Distance Learning, Open Learning/Courseware
  • Mobility and Mobile Devices

Discussion Points were:

  • The missing science, what needs to be done in the area?
  • How can new technology be transitioned?
  • How can we collaborate in InterACT?  How can we collaborate with Industry?
  • How can we do joint experimentation in the operational context of a University or a Research Lab?
  • What are the funding constraints?


To discuss funding, we invited several speakers to explain different funding schemes and research policy in different partner countries.  These talks were to stimulate discussion on how joint funding could be obtained for joint initiatives.



Nov. 8:  Presidential Summit

The events on the first day were devoted to a meeting of the presidents.  Most of the day was closed to the public and intended as an opportunity for the Presidents and a selected group of faculty to meet and to discuss ideas toward meeting significant challenges facing today's research Universities and Institutes.  The discussion was motivated by several short talks and presentations.  The Presidents and representative faculty discussed and prepared a joint response.  
The evening was then a public event.  During this event, members of the Silicon Valley Research and Technology communities were invited.  The InterACT presidents participated in a panel discussion and presented their conclusion from the day's discussion and a joint Response.  The evening concluded with a reception and an opportunity for networking.

Nov. 9:  InterACT Summit Workshop

This second day was intended for key faculty representing some of the key technology areas to present their research and relate their work to the challenges of the Summit.  The goal was to meet colleagues from the InterACT network and to plan joint research and education measures that respond to the vision of the presidents.  In keeping with a famous Silicon Valley adage, "the way to predict the future is to invent it" our workshop attempted to plan and propose coordinated research actions between the interACT partner institutions.