Wichita State News

Hurricane Ike blows work north to WSU Cisco lab

Friday, September 12, 2008
Ravi Pendse

Hurricane Ike has brought more than just a change of weather to the Wichita area. The storm has closed Cisco System’s global center in Houston, Texas, shifting its work load to students at Wichita State University’s Cisco laboratory.

A multinational corporation, Cisco is the leading supplier of networking equipment and network management for the Internet. WSU secured a partnership with the computer giant in 2005, providing the university with an initial $2 million in salaries and equipment to run a technology research center on campus. The contract between WSU and Cisco is renewed annually.

Ravi Pendse, WSU’s associate provost and chief information officer, secured the contract and now oversees the lab. He and the 100 students who work in shifts to operate the lab volunteered to accept the extra stream of work, which is considered a huge global responsibility. The team is handling the unexpected traffic well so far, said Pendse.

He and his students normally work on network problems within North America, but have been extended their support are as far as South Africa and the Philippines in recent days because of the hurricane.

“How many times do you get the chance to help out during a hurricane from Wichita, Kansas?” Pendse said. “This is a great chance for the kids to apply what they learn in class and help people at the same time.”

As soon as Hurricane Ike passes and the Houston global center reopens, the workflow will be redistributed.

The Cisco lab at WSU is the only one of its kind, giving students global, hands-on experience. No other universities host such an operation. Pendse expects the contract to continue for many years to come, viewing the partnership as extremely successful.

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Created on Friday, September 12, 2008; Last modified on Wednesday, November 19, 2008