Tech giant Yahoo has donated 40 servers to Pitt-Bradford's Computer Information Systems and Technology program to help students learn about cloud technology.
As pleased as he is with the gift itself, Don Lewicki, associate professor and director of the CIS&T program, is just as pleased that the Pitt-Bradford program was seen as worthy of the gift by Yahoo.
“There are only 50 or 60 schools in the country that have received these gifts, and most of them are much larger,” he said. “This shows we're in it to play as a program. We're very grateful to Yahoo for including us in this program. These servers are going to be a great learning tool for cloud technology.”
“Cloud technology” refers to storing and retrieving data and programs over the internet from large server farms instead of individual computers.
Many companies rent space in the cloud from companies such as Yahoo.
“We'll be able to duplicate that kind of environment now,” Lewicki said. “Our students will get very good at setting up and managing clouds.” That's something that will help students in the tech job market, where cloud computing is growing. According to the job search website Monster, the median salary for jobs in cloud computing is $124,300.
Senior CIS&T majors Chad Whippo of Johnsonburg and Zach McClure of Ligonier will be among the first to benefit. They're working with 2016 graduate Tom Neilly, who is an operations engineer at the Yahoo data center in Lockport, N.Y. Neilly was instrumental in coordinating the donation.
McClure will take the lead in the servers' set up, which will require a cooled room to keep it from overheating. With the unwrapped server standing nearby, McClure and Whippo discussed what else could be involved in the set-up: they may need to wire the servers together; they will need to test, configure and install software; and they will need to figure out a back-up power system.
Once installed, classes studying computer security will be able to test a greater variety of software platforms.
“With a server set-up like this, you can easily create test environments and different learning environments,” Lewicki said.
The servers will also give the program adequate power for student and faculty research and projects that require substantial computing power, such as breaking passwords or working on steganography - the practice of securing data by hiding it in more data.
Dr. Donald J. McGillen, Yahoo Academic Partnerships team lead, said, “Yahoo is pleased to donate a rack of servers retired from our data centers to the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. Under our Y STAR (Servers to Academic Researchers) program, we have, to date, delivered over 6,000 servers to more than 50 institutions around the globe. These machines have significantly enhanced the research and educational capabilities of the institutions that have received them and have, in some instances, enabled increased collaboration between academic researchers and Yahoo scientists and engineers.”