Wojtowicz Secures Grant for Computer Sciences Department

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Dr. Ralph Wojtowicz, assistant professor of mathematics, has brought both technology and job training to Shepherd that could benefit many students as they transition from undergrad to alumni.

Wojtowicz brought this training and technology to the university through his allocation of a West Virginia EPSCoR grant totaling $19,069. Faculty too will benefit from the recently awarded grant thanks to Wojtowicz and his team in the department of computer sciences, mathematics, and engineering.

Wojtowicz determined that a demand existed for personnel trained in Apache Hadoop software systems, with employers needing skilled workers capable of understanding and managing these complex software systems. This ability to understand and manage Hadoop software systems is in demand with countless employers, including Yahoo, Apple, Amazon and the U.S. Government.

Wojtowicz desired to provide knowledge that increases Shepherd alumni’s chances of employment while providing a research tool for faculty across the university. Individuals who have experience in this software environment can expect to increase their employment chances and be on the forefront of large data collection, distribution and management technologies. These opportunities will increase further as society depends more on the correlation of data to provide scientific answers to complex problems.

Wojtowicz stated, “It’s a hot job market, and I wanted to bring these skills to Shepherd.”

The Hadoop software system, the focus of the grant, is a Java-based framework for correlating and sharing large data sets, which normal computing systems and networks are incapable of handling. More and more, society gathers vast amounts of data in every arena of life. This makes it increasingly important to understand and share large amounts of data, as exemplified through the Obama administration’s “Big Data Research and Development Initiative,” a national initiative to investigate and improve large data collection efforts.

Wojtowicz stated that as an example for understanding his Hadoop grant, students might think of vast terabytes of weather data that have been recorded for decades and are crucial to climatologists who seek to predict weather trends. The Hadoop software framework allows for large data sets to be shared among multiple nodes involving thousands of terabytes of data.

The Hadoop technology is already benefiting society with the elimination of redundant tasks and through its unique ability to transfer, store and correlate large data sets. Lastly, Hadoop also allows for continued use when one node is unavailable or offline, making it a redundant system and highly reliable for use in government computing systems.

The provided funds will be used to purchase two servers, four workstations, and another workstation provided through a separate grant from the Shepherd Technical Oversight Committee. Together they will complete a Hadoop cluster, which will be the only known Hadoop cluster currently being used at an undergraduate level, as all others exist only at graduate institutions.

Wojtowicz believes that the cluster will not only serve as a research tool but also result in Shepherd graduates’ being highly employable after their exposure to this technology, with internship opportunities existing for those who are involved in his upcoming fall senior capstone course.

Wojtowicz is eager to provide realistic and marketable training to Shepherd students. He also wants to ensure that students, faculty and Shepherd researchers know the technology and experience are available to other divisions. He encourages students looking to learn and expand their own efforts to participate.