School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology
Univ. of Hawaii at Manoa

Advanced Network Computing Laboratory

To build the industry leader in Advanced Network education, security, testing and publishing through a balanced partnership between industry and academia. This partnership will help maintain the United States' technology leadership and focus attention on Hawaii's critical role in building and extending that leadership.

It's funny how little ideas tend to build upon each other until someone comes along and sticks them together into an idea that changes the world.

Education, ingenuity, and hands-on practical experience are the ingredients that came together to fuel the explosive growth of the Internet. The value America places on those ingredients does much to explain its leadership in building and developing the Internet and related technologies. Hawaii has played critical roles the technology revolution of the last 30 years; unfortunately, Hawaii's contributions have been lost in the PR blitz of Silicon Valley. Truly significant contributions like the AlohaNET project that formed the basis of Ethernet, and one of the first websites in the world (built by a community college student here) have been forgotten. The reality is that Hawaii has been at the forefront of the Information Revolution time and again without recognition.

We propose a project to train future network engineers in a leadership role, and bring recognition to Hawaii as a leading center of technology development. The project is a well-funded, fully-operational Advanced Network Computing Lab built on the foundation established over the last eight years. It solves the two critical issues that exist in training network professionals, while making meaningful contributions to the development of technologies and products for advanced computer networking.

Over the years, there have been two distinct problems with how the US approached training new networking engineers. The first problem lay in the success of programs like the Cisco e-academy®. While it was helping fill the need for technicians, it lured students away from higher education into the work force. This is good for industry, but only in the short term because high school and technical training, no matter how good, don't provide the hard science and critical thinking skills necessary for innovation. The second problem lay in the nature of university computer science curricula; The private sector is constantly griping that university students are useless because they have no practical experience, and require expensive retraining.

In the late 1990's, while was serving at the Pentagon, Brian Chee was able to put together the resources and opportunity to build the first independent networking test lab directly tied to a national trade publication. This is the Advanced Network Computer Lab (ANCL) at the University of Hawaii. While independent labs have existed at universities in New Hampshire and Wisconsin, neither works with the trade press. ANCL's combination of higher education, the national trade press and an intern program with the world's largest networking trade show has led others to attempt to copy the formula, but without success.

ANCL's winning combination is built on the public relations engine that is a magazine, the intensive real world ramifications of building the world's largest mobile network at Networld+Interop, and the intellectual rigor and training that is higher education. The glue that has held this winning combination together is Brian Chee. With almost 30 years experience in the fledgling computer networking industry, Brian has had the unique opportunity to have experienced almost every facet of its explosive growth and has developed a wealth of industry contacts. The ability to obtain millions of dollars of in-kind donations and long term loans have given ANCL interns direct experience with emerging technology giving them an advantage over their peers and even over those many years their senior in the field.

The real difference between an Ivy League school and Hawaii public universities has been one of opportunity. If a student must constantly "make do" with substandard facilities, they can develop a second-rate mindset. If a student has to fight substandard equipment in order to do an experiment, all they have time to learn is how to fix the broken equipment. ANCL has shown just how effective a world-class laboratory can be at preparing students to excel in the world beyond academics.

Some of the equipment these students are exposed to at ANCL may be as much as a year away from release to the general public. Some of the equipment is so expensive that industry professionals rarely get the opportunity to use it. All this adds up to an unbeatable combination: a student that has real world experience for an immediate return on investment, but with a firm foundation from higher education with which to innovate.

If ANCL's students have achieved such success, what more is needed? The requirements to insure on-going success are actually rather simple. What ANCL needs to achieve its goals is a short term safety net in order to build a library of test plans and procedures, train a new cadre of interns and to build a customer base for testing services. The intent is to build ANCL first into a self sustaining entity, and then to turn it into a profit center to fund networking scholarships, a security institute, research into emerging networking technologies and to provide an outreach program for Hawaiian businesses in advanced networking topics.

Brian J .S. Chee, director and founder
The Advanced Network Computing Laboratory®

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