The School of Information Studies and Alcatel Internetworking Inc. are creating a center to evaluate, test, and demonstrate advanced telecommunications technologies and applications that will benefit the public sector. Established under the auspices of the school’s Community Information and Technology Institute (CITI), the Center for Excellence in Broadband Applications (CEBA) will also provide information studies undergraduate and graduate students with unprecedented opportunities to work with leading marketplace technologies, study technology Transfer issues, and develop advanced information technology applications and solutions for the public sector.
                            mike prinzo
CEBA will be a focal point for information about these technologies and how new technologies could be adopted by government agencies, health care institutions, the education community, and other nongovernmental organizations,” says Professor Murali Venkatesh, director of CITI. “Through education and demonstrations, decision-makers in government and community organizations will become more aware of available broadband technologies, applications, and services.”
      Alcatel, which builds next-generation voice and data networks, will provide a $200,000 grant to CITI to establish the center, as well as advanced broadband equipment, and other devices used to build and access high-speed telecommunications networks.
      The idea for a center like CEBA grew out of research CITI conducted last year for the New York State Office of Technology, which looked at broadband community network development in Central New York. “We found a low level of knowledge about broadband networking among people who make major investment decisions about technology solutions for their organizations,” Venkatesh says. “We recommended establishing a new technology cell as a focal point for testing and disseminating information about broadband technology.”
      One CEBA project will incorporate Alcatel Internet security solutions into a Syracuse MetroNet video test-bed project CITI is conducting with the Onondaga County Department of Social Services and SUNY Upstate Medical University. Video test-bed projects will enable community agencies to test a low-cost, high-speed videoconferencing system that uses ordinary telephone lines and the Internet. “Through its involvement in such projects, CEBA will be a tremendous asset not only to the public sector, but also to the school’s undergraduate and graduate programs,” Venkatesh says. “The lab will provide students with new opportunities for learning. It is important that we teach the next generation of information technology leaders to think creatively about this technology.”
                                                                  —JUDY HOLMES



After a year of law school, Jessica Birkahn had no idea in which area of law she would specialize. Textbooks and lectures gave her only a vague idea of actual practice, making it difficult to decide what most interested her. Then the law school’s Advocacy Externship Program placed her in the busy Onondaga County Attorney’s Office full-time for six weeks this past summer and for 12 to 15 hours each week this semester. “It’s been fantastic,” says the Rochester, New York, native. “I’ve had the opportunity to write motions, help with discovery demands [requests from opposing legal teams to share information], and do tons of research using books and the Internet. I’m putting into practice theories I learned in class.”
      The College of Law’s Office of Clinical Programs offers four kinds of externships, each giving students a firsthand look at a different area of law. The advocacy externship places them with local governmental offices, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Syracuse. Through the judicial externship, students work directly with federal, state, bankruptcy, and family court judges. The public interest externship offers placements with Legal Services of Central New York, Hiscock Legal Aid, and Oneida Indian Nation Legal Services. And the Washington, D.C., summer externship places students in congressional offices, federal government agencies, and national public interest and civil rights organizations.
      Law professor Arlene S. Kanter, the school’s director of clinical legal education, says the programs introduce students to a lawyer’s role as responsible, ethical decision-maker and help them recognize the array of choices in every lawyering or judicial task. Externships develop students’ capacity for self-critique, self-assessment, and self-instruction, she says, noting participants are required to keep personal journals in which they reflect on their experiences. Finally, the externships expose them to the conflicts, confusion, uncertainties, and constraints of the profession. “There is no better place to receive a reality check than the busy local law offices of the U.S. attorney or Legal Aid,” she says.
      Birkahn appreciated the insights her externship offered. “Television would have you believe that lawyers spend much of their time in court,” she says. “Most of their days are filled with research and writing. If nothing else, the externship lets you see what you’re really going to do.”
      Dan Robb, administrative officer for the county attorney’s office, says he is pleased with the caliber of SU law students, noting Birkahn works well without supervision. “You give her a task and it’s completed,” he says. “We’re short on attorneys, and it means a great deal to be able to free them up from the basic research and writing.”
      Birkahn still hasn’t decided what kind of law she’ll practice, but she believes her externship experience will help her decide when the time comes. “The externship is an invaluable experience,” she says. “I would have been scared to go out into the working world with just my law degree—and I know I’d want my own lawyer to have some actual hands-on experience before going into practice.”
                                                —GARY PALLASSINO

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