Page 16 - Marist Magazine Fall 2012

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ver since Marist senior Doug Rohde
was in middle school, he’s been inter-
ested in computers.
“I was the one who was always on the
computer, always took tech classes in high
school,” Rohde says. “It wasn’t something that
ever bored me, because it’s always changing.”
Rohde is now an information technology
major who puts in as many as 20 hours a
week (and put in 40 hours a week this past
summer) as a student-intern system admin-
istrator for the IBM System z 114 mainframe
and zBlade Center, the rock star of Marist’s
new Enterprise Computing Research
Laboratory. The lab is the cornerstone of a
program to introduce mainframe comput-
ing into undergraduate education, initi-
ated at Marist through a National Science
Foundation grant.
The NSF awarded the two-year $400,000
grant to Marist College in September 2008
to work with eight academic partners and
nine industry partners to build an academic
and industry community that would revital-
ize undergraduate education in enterprise
computing. The lab and related equipment
were also supported by a second NSF grant.
Additional equipment was provided by IBM,
the world’s primary manufacturer of enter-
prise computing systems, which has had a
research partnership with Marist since 1988.
Why is enterprise computing education
important? “Enterprise computing and IBM
mainframes are quietly and securely running
the most mission-critical businesses in the
world,” says Don Resnik, IBM worldwide
Marist’s Enterprise
Computing Research
Laboratory is the
cornerstone of a
program to introduce
mainframe computing
into undergraduate
education, initiated
through a National Science
Foundation grant.
Putting Mainframes
 in the Mainstream
System z academic initiative and client skills
leader. “This includes government, financial,
retail, and the public communities.
“A CIO once told me that schools
should be calling this education ‘Extreme
IT’ because it’s the most extreme computing
in the world.” Currently, Resnik says, 1,067
schools around the world include IBM enter-
prise computing in their curricula.
Among them, Marist has taken the
lead in establishing an enterprise comput-
ing community (ECC) that now has about
1,000 members worldwide. It is anchored
by a robust educational component. “Marist
College has definitely distinguished itself as
a global leader in enterprise systems edu-
cation,” says Resnik, by first having “an IT
staff that runs the most efficient and secure
enterprise computing environment that’s
best of breed globally in academia, and sec-
ondly, an enterprise computing education
program that was developed in partnership
with over 20 global industry leaders in enter-
prise systems.”
Marist’s offerings include nine under-
graduate credit-bearing courses and eight
noncredit courses, all available online
through the Institute for Data Center
Professionals at Marist College. Faculty
members use the Enterprise Computing
Research Laboratory to train undergraduate
and graduate students in research methods
and practices. The lab is available
to Marist faculty and student
researchers as well as academic
and industry researchers.
The lab is used solely for research and
research training, Rohde says, which is
unusual. “Usually when there is a mainframe,
it’s in a production environment, so not many
resources get dedicated to research and
development.” Rohde sets up and oversees
the research projects, making sure the lab’s
resources are allocated appropriately.
Another key activity of the ECC is its
annual conference. Since 2009, Marist has
hosted a conference each June that has drawn
at least 150 and as many as 230 people. The
audience is made up of 60 percent industry
and 40 percent academia, says Assistant
Dean of the School of Computer Science
and Mathematics Mary Ann Hoffmann.
Partners and sponsors in the ECC are Illinois
State University, North Carolina A&T State
University, Widener University, University
of Arkansas, Monroe College, San Jose State
University, Stevens Institute of Technology,
Binghamton University, Aetna, Bank of
America, BMC Software, CA Technologies,
Citigroup, Compuware, IBM, Micro Focus,
Morgan Stanley, Progressive Insurance,
Rocket Software, State Farm Insurance, the
Travelers Companies, and Verizon.
For the 2012 conference, guests traveled
to Marist from as far away as Australia.
Soon after the conference, there were more
international visitors. Representatives
came to Marist from Shenzhen University
in Guangdong and Tongji University in
Shanghai to learn about the College’s enter-
prise computing courses. Marist also sent
its own representatives abroad; when the
University of Canberra held its own enter-
prise computing conference in May, one of
its keynote speakers was Dr. Roger Norton,
dean of Marist’s School of Computer Science
and Mathematics.
Rohde says he learned about mainframes
in his Marist classes but also learned a lot
from his hands-on work with the System
z 114. “This job gives me the opportunity
to learn things in college that most other
students don’t get a chance to.”
“Businesses that require the most secure
and dependable systems on the planet want
students who can build and maintain enter-
prise systems, storage, and software from
many hundreds of vendors,” says IBM’s
Resnik. “There are unlimited jobs in this
industry, but students have to get the fun-
damentals to get started and from there—
the career choices are amazing. Enterprise
systems are about building and maintaining
the most important IT infrastructures in
the world.”
For more information about the ECC, visit
For information on submitting research proposals, visit
Senior Doug Rohde learned about mainframes from his classes but also from his hands-on work
as a student-intern system administrator for the IBM System z 114 mainframe and zBlade Center in
Marist’s Enterprise Computing Research Laboratory.
Al Nowak/On Location
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