University of Pittsburgh
September 25, 2000



PITTSBURGH, September 20 -- A project to educate a wireless information systems workforce, submitted by the telecommunications program in the School of Information Sciences (SIS) at the University of Pittsburgh, will receive an estimated $391,204 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through its new $90 million Information Technology Research (ITR) initiative.

According to SIS faculty member and principle researcher Prashant Krishnamurthy, the project's primary objective is to develop and implement a wireless information degree track that provides a unique education in the development, design, and deployment of wireless information systems with an emphasis on emerging wireless data technology.

"The goal is to produce information technology (IT) professionals with the knowledge to address the special challenges -- including user mobility, adverse communications channels, and limited battery life -- posed by emerging wireless information systems," said Krishnamurthy. "A secondary objective is to develop innovative instructional methods and tools using wireless devices in the classroom and laboratory that extend through K-16 education.

"The research and coursework associated with this educational track are needed to help meet the explosive demand for IT professionals from wireless service providers, wireless equipment manufacturers, applications developers who use wireless systems, and wireless information systems users," Krishnamurthy added.

This project also has received grants from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's "Link-to-Learn" program, Microsoft Corporation, and the AT&T Foundation. SIS faculty members David Tipper and Joseph Kabara are co-investigators for the project. The website for the wireless program is

According to the NSF, these awards are intended to spur fundamental research and innovative applications of IT, as a step toward building on U.S. leadership in this area of growing importance to the economy. More than 200 projects were selected from over 1,400 proposals. The newly funded activities will promote IT-driven science and engineering. Included are 62 large projects that will average $1 million per year for three to five years, involving 41 institutions in 22 states. Another 148 smaller projects will each total $500,000 or less for up to three years, involving 81 institutions in 32 states. (For a complete list of ITR awards and project abstracts, see:

"This initiative will help strengthen America's leadership in a sector that has accounted for one-third of U.S. economic growth in recent years," said President Bill Clinton. "High technology is generating jobs that pay 85 percent more than the average private sector wage. I am pleased that the National Science Foundation is expanding its investment in long-term information technology research. I urge the Congress to provide full funding for NSF so that they can continue to make these kinds of investments in America's future."

"These projects represent major innovations in information technology, rather than routine applications of existing technology," said NSF director Rita Colwell. "Our strategy to support long-term, high-risk research responds to a challenge from the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC), which called for increased federal investment to maintain the U.S. lead in this important sector of the global economy."

ITR emphasizes the subject areas of software; scalable information infrastructure; information management; revolutionary computing; human-computer interfaces; advanced computational science; education and workforce; and social or economic implications of IT. The program's main goals are to augment the nation's IT knowledge base and strengthen the IT workforce.

"The response has been overwhelming," said Ruzena Bajcsy, who heads the NSF Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE). "Because fund requests by proposers exceeded $3.2 billion, there were many more worthwhile projects proposed than we are able to support. The volume and quality of proposals are strong evidence justifying our desire to triple NSF's ITR budget over the next five years."

NSF has also just kicked off its second ITR competition. The foundation's ITR budget request for fiscal 2001 is $190 million of additional funding, although the actual appropriation is yet to be determined by Congress.

- 30 -