IBM Academic Initiative

Building skills for a Smarter Planet

Spotlight on Dr. Praveen Rao

Early adopter of cloud technologies

Dr. Praveen Rao
Assistant Professor of Computer Science Electrical Engineering
University of Missouri-Kansas City, Missouri USA

Dr. Rao's research interests are in the areas of data management and health informatics.

Breaking new ground at University of Missouri-Kansas City

Dr. Praveen Rao understands that cloud technology will play a significant role in the future of enterprise computing, and he believes it is important to train students with skills relevant to the industry and engage them early. Therefore, it is no surprise that Dr. Rao was one of the first professors to be accepted into the IBM Academic Skills Cloud pilot program.

Through this program, he has been able to incorporate an understanding of cloud technologies in his courses and, more importantly, provide his students with hands-on experience. He has designed projects in his graduate courses to use a cloud computing infrastructure and reports that his students "...are thrilled to learn the latest technologies that will prepare them for the software industry."

Growing the program

Dr. Rao has used cloud images of IBM Informix Developer Edition, IBM BigInsights Basic, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and Apache platforms in a variety of his classes. First, his students in the Large Scale Semi-structured Data Management course designed, implemented, and evaluated a scheme for RDF indexing and query processing. They stored RDF graphs in IBM Informix RDBMS, built specialized indexes, and translated RDF queries into relational queries and executed them. Currently, students in his Advanced Operating Systems course are using the cloud to design, implement, and evaluate a peer-to-peer file system built using a Distributed Hash Table. While, in another class, they are attempting to store, index, and query RDF data using Apache Hadoop and Apache Pig, which are popular tools for data-intensive, distributed processing.

After the first semester in which 40 of his students received experience developing and deploying software in a cloud environment, Dr. Rao met with other professors on his campus to share his success and encourage them to participate. As a result, in 2012, cloud technologies will be incorporated into several other UMKC courses.

And, there is more to come...

Dr. Rao has other projects in the pipeline that will further the use of the cloud environment at his university. In 2010, he won an IBM Smarter Planet Faculty Innovation Award to develop a new health IT curriculum that will educate and train students with the skills needed to succeed in the healthcare IT industry. Using the cloud to access software is included in this plan.

In 2011, Dr. Rao won a National Science Foundation award for his research project "Scalable RDF Query Processing Using a Cloud Infrastructure". The project, which will address the problem of massive RDF data management in a cloud, by developing novel techniques—algorithms and data structures—for storing, indexing, and query processing, will engage graduate and undergraduate students, offering them additional opportunities to advance their knowledge and skills.

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