Rensselaer Research Review Spring/Summer 2010
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Researchers Using Science To Decode the Secrets of Olympic Skeleton Sliding
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(l-r) Senior Constellation Professor of Tetherless World Constellation Deborah McGuinness and Senior Constellation Professor of Tetherless World Constellation and Assistant Dean for Information Technology and Web Science program James Hendler.
First Undergraduate Web Science Degree in Nation Launched

Rensselaer recently launched the nation’s first undergraduate degree program dedicated to the interdisciplinary field of Web Science. Students in this program will investigate issues on the Web related to security, trust, privacy, content value, and the development of the Web of the future. The Web Science program will include faculty from computer science, management, cognitive science, and the humanities, as well as Professors James Hendler, Deborah McGuinness, and Peter Fox.

The new academic major expands the current Information Technology degree program to create both a bachelor’s degree, and a master’s concentration, in “Information Technology and Web Science.” The students in the interdisciplinary degree program will investigate issues on the Web related to security, trust, privacy, content value, and the development of the Web of the future.

The new programs will have a strong foundation in information technology with course work and research in computer science and programming as well as information management. However, they will also extend well beyond most traditional information technology curriculums and their traditional focus solely on the technical details in building Web applications, according to Hendler, who also serves as the assistant dean in charge of the Information Technology and Web Science program.

“The World Wide Web has drastically changed the way we live our lives, process data, and even make scientific discoveries. Despite this, we know very little about the overall structure and evolution of the Web,” Hendler said. “Through interdisciplinary study, students at Rensselaer will be among the first in the world to specifically explore the interactions between the complex technical, engineering, and social aspects of the Web. This will be bringing new and important perspectives on the most transformative technology in their world to their research and careers following graduation.”

“Rensselaer has been a strong proponent of this emerging interdisciplinary field of Web Science, and I congratulate them on creating this program,” said Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web.

The degree programs will include faculty from computer science, management, cognitive science, and the humanities, as well as faculty from the Tetherless World Research Constellation. The constellation comprises faculty who mentor up-and-coming faculty and graduate and undergraduate students in fields ranging from computer science to informatics. Their collective research and teaching efforts center on new ways to understand and harness the inner workings of the Web.

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“Untangling the Web”
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