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University CIOs bullish on pandemic-era tech

Two higher education chief information officers predicted during a virtual event Thursday that the methods of teaching university students will have undergone a substantial shift once the pandemic has passed — much of it positive. Considering pedagogical changes stemming from recent technological adaptations and more flexible attendance policies born from increasingly remote learning models, the CIOs from Texas Tech University and Virginia Tech University said that despite the limitations and challenges of the pandemic, they believe this period will yield “exciting” new opportunities for many institutions. “Going forward, we need to be looking at augmented reality, VR, robotics, simulations,” said Sam Segran, CIO of Texas Tech. “I think all of those are going to come together much more quickly than we had anticipated in the last few years.” Colin Wood reports.

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U. Central Florida expands bionic limbs lab

Students at the University of Central Florida will have more opportunities to help design and build bionic limbs in a new laboratory space set to open next year, the university announced this week. Limbitless Solutions, a UCF nonprofit started by several students in 2014, is expanding its lab space from its original smaller lab to grow the group’s research and production capabilities. The new lab will include a new creative space to support student collaboration on biomedical engineering, manufacturing and research. “We wanted to make a space where engineers, scientists, artists and storytellers could come together to tackle challenges and stigma associated with accessibility and mobility,” said Mrudula Peddinti, the group's design lead. Betsy Foresman has more.

Michigan State has a new CISO

Tom Siu, formerly the chief information security officer for Case Western Reserve University, has been named as the CISO of Michigan State University. Siu now leads the university’s information security team, which focuses on minimizing risk and ensuring compliance with laws and regulations, while responding to cybersecurity incidents. His hire comes as universities increasingly fall victim to more sophisticated ransomware attacks against institutions of higher learning. MSU has already fallen victim to a ransomware attack this year, when hackers breached the university’s network on May 31 and threatened to publish students’ personal records and university financial documents if the university failed to pay a bounty. Betsy has the full story.

Predicting COVID-19 with deep learning

Researchers at Texas A&M University have recently begun using artificial intelligence to forecast the growth of COVID-19 cases in communities across the country. The university is using a deep-learning model, a method of machine-learning that relies on large amounts of data, to process data related to population activities and mobility to help predict the spread of COVID-19 at a county level. Ali Mostafavi, the project’s lead researcher, said this work could help lawmakers make informed policy decisions to protect residents and mitigate spread of the virus. “Significant opportunities exist using these big data and AI to contain the existing pandemic and also better prepare and mitigate the future pandemics,” said Mostafavi, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. Read on.

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