LSU Center
for Applied Information Technology and Learning
Advice from LSU CAPITAL's External Advisory Panel
(November 2001)



The initial gathering of LSU CAPITAL's external advisory panel occurred on 18-19 November 2001. The panel heard short presentations, by selected faculty from across the campus, which outlined Proposed Directions for IT Research at LSU. Each presentation was designed to summarize in general terms one of the broad areas of research that was identified through recently submitted suggestions by the campus community.
After hearing these presentations and having an extended discussion with LSU CAPITAL's executive committee, the advisory panel recommended the following:
Immediately advertise to hire a leading researcher (or leading research group) to direct the formation of an "IT cluster" in each of the following areas:
  • Core IT (to build a strong interface between emerging areas of computer science, computer engineering, and communications research, especially as they support and overlap other identified areas of IT research)
  • Business (to strengthen research in information systems and to emphasize entrepreneurship)
  • Biocomputing
  • Materials Science
In practice, in each case the identified "leading researcher" may be an individual who is relatively junior, but who has been clearly identified as a promising leader in his/her field.
These IT clusters need not be of equal size. Indeed, a cluster focused on "core IT" should probably be larger than others because expertise in this arena will provide a solid foundation for creating excellence in other areas of IT research, such as visualization, complex modeling, digital media arts, and the human-computer interface.
Each IT cluster needs a mission statement and a well-defined plan that clearly benchmarks where LSU presently stands, relative to where LSU aspires to be, and that clearly describes how the cluster will develop strong connections with Louisiana's business and industry community. "Know who you want to be!"
Search committees should be cross-disciplinary and should be fully aware of the economic development needs of the state.
Excellent individuals who are desired by more than one department at LSU should be given the flexibility of choosing the disciplinary unit in which the major fraction of their tenure will reside.
A template should be designed that describes the type of individual who will be recruited to lead an IT cluster. The template should be patterned after faculty (at LSU and elsewhere) who have been successful at bringing research ideas to the marketplace.
Someone should be hired (probably in a high-level staff, rather than faculty, position) to direct and encourage entrepreneurial activities especially among LSU's math, science, and engineering faculty.
It appears as though a sufficient number of research-active faculty already exist in the area of Geoinformatics at LSU to function as an effective IT cluster. Consideration should be given to providing some one-time funding to this group in order to accelerate their productivity. Attention should be focused on bringing the accomplishments of this cluster to the marketplace.
The Cyber Security Center should aggressively seek center-level funding from one or more federal agencies, while strengthening collaborations with faculty in existing departments who have expertise in this arena.
The following improvements should be made in connection with curriculum development:
  • Identify and actively teach curricula and individual courses that will meet the continuing education needs of local businesses and industry.
  • Establish an interdisciplinary undergraduate program in computational science.
  • Establish an interdisciplinary undergraduate curriculum in information technology that can serve well as a minor to a variety of existing UG programs across the campus.
  • Identify mechanisms through which undergraduate students with strong IT credentials can land good, local jobs upon graduation.
Establish a well-defined structure for LSU CAPITAL (or some other unit within the university) that will serve effectively as an umbrella organization for all IT activities across the campus -- including, but not limited to, activities of the IT clusters named above -- and that will project a clear and visible identity to the Louisiana legislature, local business & industry, prospective students, and academic institutions worldwide.


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