InterACT Presidential Summit
Today's world is so different from anything that came before it. How do you prepare students for it? How do you give them the edge?
Attendees at a recent two-day interACT Presidential Summit, held at NASA Advanced Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., tackled these and other compelling questions.
InterACT, the International Center for Advanced Communications Technology, is a consortium of universities whose goal is to prepare students for a global society.
At the beginning of the summit, Prof. Dr. Alex Waibel of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the Director of interACT, spoke on what the center is and what it is dedicated to accomplish.
"It is a somewhat unusual organization, or consortium. It's a network of universities that want to collaborate in preparing for a globalized future," Waibel said.
InterACT is a joint center between seven of the leading institutions and their schools of computer science in the US, Europe and Asia:
- Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA and Silicon Valley, CA, USA
- Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
- Italian Institute of Technology, Genova, Italy
- Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
- National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, Tokyo, Japan
- University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA
- Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan
Founded in 2004, the mission of interACT is to train students, staff and faculty to operate in international research teams across multinational and multicultural boundaries.
The center offers international exchange programs, seminars and academies, and facilitates cross-national research projects like improving cross-cultural understanding, cross-lingual communication, transnational cooperation and collaboration.
According to CMU President Jared L. Cohon, "We believe it has been very successful, we believe that all of our institutions have benefited from it, and it has produced real results in the form of research, and education. It represents a global collaboration of a dimension that is rarely seen, but is growing rapidly, and we will provide a lot of leavening for others."
A good example of one of these projects is Jibbigo. Not only was the translation tool featured in a recent Apple commercial but a new development could have a global impact — the release of a translation tool between English and the Iraqi dialect of Arabic.
The new application developed for the iPhone 3GS was the work of researchers at Jibbigo LLC and interACT. A user speaks either English or Arabic into the iPhone and the Jibbigo app produces a spoken and text translation in the other language.
The software, now available from Jibbigo through the iPhone App Store, operates on the iPhone itself, so it can operate as a free-standing communicator without the need to be connected to the web or a phone network.