Campus Technology highlights HUBzero and Signals as top innovations for 2011

August 17, 2011

Campus Technology Magazine’s August edition is highlighting two Purdue-developed technologies as top innovations for 2011. HUBzero is a Web-based platform allowing researchers to collaborate using computational models to study complex problems. Signals is an early warning system that helps students succeed in their coursework.

Campus Technology selected HUBzero and Signals for two of its 2011 Campus Technology Innovators Awards. The annual awards recognize higher education institutions for initiatives in educational technology that are models for other schools. Purdue has won five of the awards since 2006, all for technologies developed by Purdue’s IT staff.

Purdue is among 10 award winners for 2011 selected from 393 nominations by higher education institutions worldwide. This is only the second time a school has won two of the awards in one year.

Andrew Barbour, executive editor of Campus Technology, says HUBzero impressed judges with the scope of its set of powerful, integrated tools as well as its international reach. He says Signals helps address one of higher education’s biggest challenges: student retention.

HUBzero makes posting and using computational tools about as easy as posting and viewing a YouTube video and brings access to high-performance and cloud computing resources as close as the Web browser. Built-in social networking features akin to Facebook create communities of researchers, practitioners, educators and students and facilitate virtual research partnerships and education.

HUBzero was originally created for nanoHUB.org, a Purdue-based international nanotechnology resource with hundreds of thousands of users. It now supports more than 30 hubs and growing built around topics ranging from cancer care and environmental modeling to the study of volcanoes and engineering earthquake-resistant buildings, bridges and related structures.

Signals, available for use by any Purdue faculty member, mines student performance and behavioral data to warn students as early as the second week of the semester that they could be in danger of falling behind in a class and provide them with concrete steps to get help and improve.

“We’ve found this can improve student performance an average of one letter grade for many students and improve student success and retention,” says John Campbell, ITaP associate vice president for academic technologies, a chief architect of Signals, who also heads the Rosen Center for Advanced Computing, ITaP's research computing unit.

Signals, branded as Course Signals, is now available to other campuses through a Purdue partnership with SunGard Higher Education, announced in October 2010.

It is the third year in a row Purdue has won at least one of the Campus Technology awards. The 2010 award was for the Community Cluster Program, a cooperative effort by faculty members and ITaP to build supercomputers that now rank Purdue’s research computing resources in the top four nationally among academic institutions. The 2009 award was for DiaGrid, a distributed computing system that makes ten of thousands of processors available for research. DiaGrid is available for use by any Purdue faculty member.

Writer: Greg Kline, science and technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue, 765-494-8167 (office), 765-426-8545 (cell), gkline@purdue.edu

Originally posted: August 17, 2011