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Georgia Tech’s College of Computing has played a key role in the development of wearable computers, including Google Glass. Shown here are professor Thad Starner (right) and student Kristin Vadas. Photo: Nicole Cappello.

Plugged In

Twenty-five years ago, the Internet was largely the province of academic and military researchers. The World Wide Web had just been proposed, and the notion of a “smartphone” was off in the future. Personal computers largely operated on the desktop.

Against that backdrop, then-Georgia Tech president John Patrick Crecine and other campus visionaries saw potential. They launched Georgia Tech’s College of Computing in 1990, making the Institute the second university in the nation to have a college devoted to the discipline of computing.

In 2015, the wisdom of that decision seems clear.

“In 25 short years, the College of Computing has become a leader and a champion for research endeavors across the spectrum of computing — from theory to robotics to machine learning, from high-performance computing to networking and cybersecurity, and from human-computer interaction to social media — while at the same time establishing a reputation as a premier innovator in computing education,” said Zvi Galil, now dean of the college. “These are tangible contributions to the 21st century digital age. We’ve done this through the hard work of amazing students, brilliant faculty, and dedicated staff, together with a relentless drive to improve the world around us through computing.”

Today, the college has 4,552 students, up from 791 at its founding. It has attracted more than $370 million in research awards since 1990 and moved into a second new building in 2006. Among the highlights of the past 25 years:

  • Developing key research areas in cybersecurity, robotics, human-computer interaction, machine learning, networking, data science and high-performance computing, and theory.
  • Spinning off several major companies, including Damballa, which sniffs out malware in enterprise systems, and Pindrop Security, which helps prevent telephone-based fraud.
  • Helping create major research organizations, including the Graphics, Visualization, and Usability (GVU) Center; the Georgia Tech Information Security Center (GTISC); and a predecessor to the current Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines (IRIM).

Added Galil: “I don’t know what the world will look like in another 25 years, but I do know it will bear Georgia Tech’s meta-tags.” — JOHN TOON

ipad cover issue 3 2015

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