Sept. 14-15 Gala to Mark Official Opening of $14.6 Million Computer Science Center at UMass Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. - A gala celebration will mark the official opening of the $14.6 million Computer Science Research Center at the University of Massachusetts. The event is set for Thurs. and Fri., Sept. l4-15. Thursday''s events will feature an open house and demonstrations of various technologies being developed by UMass computer scientists, as well as the awarding of three honorary degrees; activities on Friday will focus on technical talks and seminars geared toward the research community.

The Computer Science Research Center, located at the north end of campus on Governors'' Drive, is a three-floor, 78,500 square-foot, state-of-the-art structure that represents the culmination of five years of planning, said department head James Kurose. The computer science department was previously located on several floors in the Lederle Graduate Research Center. The new building provides new lab and office space, creating a cutting-edge research and education environment for faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduates, as well as numerous visiting scientists, postdoctoral researchers, and professional staff members. The Computer Science Research Center was funded entirely through the state''s general obligation bond issue. One of the most important features in the building is its wiring, which provides extensive routes to the information highway, said Kurose. "The center''s computer infrastructure will accommodate the latest technologies at the fastest possible speeds," he noted. The building is cabled to accommodate an array of technologies, including fiberoptics, cellular, high-speed twisted pair, and video. This allows real-time, multimedia communication.

Events scheduled for Thurs. Sept. 14 include:

* The conferring of honorary degrees during a convocation in Bowker Auditorium, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Computer scientists Barry Boehm, Leonard Kleinrock, and Raj Reddy will receive honorary degrees from President William Bulger and Chancellor David K. Scott. Reddy, who is world-renowned in the field of artificial intelligence, will speak on "The Universal Digital Library."

* A ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony at the front entrance of the new building, 11:45 a.m.

* A keynote speech by Boehm, focusing on software development, in the Colloquia Room at 1:15 p.m.

* An open house, including tours and demonstrations, throughout the building, 2-5:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

* Kleinrock, known as the "Father of the Internet," will speak on "The Internet and Beyond" at a dinner for invited guests.

Demonstrations to be held during the open house on Thursday will focus on a variety of disciplines. Visitors will see robots that learn; the "Lighthouse" Web-based information retrieval system; face recognition by computers; electronic homework systems developed at UMass, which are now used in 20 universities across the country; tutoring systems in history, engineering, and math; wearable computing; intelligent environments which "remind" residents of appointments and remember to brew the morning coffee and lock the front door; and 3-D aerial imaging analysis to monitor the ecosystem. The scholarly lectures to be given on Fri., Sept. 15 will include presentations on robotics; computer languages and architecture; information retrieval and management; software engineering, machine learning; and networking and distributed systems. There will also be a discussion on how computer technology is changing the face of education. UMass faculty and invited speakers will give lectures to scholars within the field.

The University''s computer science program, launched in the 1960s, was one of the first in the United States, and today is ranked 18th nationally by the National Research Council. It is one of the top five computer science departments in attracting research dollars, and is in the top 25 percent of schools in terms of size, says Kurose.

NOTE: A press kit, with background information on the building and the department, as well as a detailed schedule of the events, will be available by contacting Elizabeth Luciano of the UMass News Office at 413/545-2989 or luciano@journ.umass.edu.

Journalists are welcome to attend the public events and the lectures; the ribbon-cutting, tours, and demos will be the most visual portions of the gala. More information is available at http://www.cs.umass.edu/excellence.

Details on the demonstrations are at http://www.cs.umass.edu/excellence/demo.htm.