In early 1998, the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA) began efforts to create a Web-based, Internet Engineering Curriculum (IEC) repository for high-quality network engineering education and training materials. Growing concerns about the number of network-savvy engineers entering the workforce have now led to a novel collaboration between industry and academia to develop hands-on teaching laboratories to supplement existing university networking curricula. Both the IEC and the labs are discussed below.
IEC REPOSITORY: The technology surrounding the Internet is so new and is changing so fast that many universities do not have networking courses, or find it difficult to keep existing curricula current. Keeping faculty abreast with developments in this field is also difficult and is exacerbated by the fact that networking textbooks are often several years out of date.
The IEC repository, available at http://iec.caida.org/, provides a resource to university faculty and others interested in designing networking courses and augmenting existing networking training. It consists of a collection of teaching materials from university courses, vendor training materials, tutorials, and reference materials contributed by individuals throughout the globe. These authors include regular university faculty, industry research labs personnel, training professionals, and even the occasional college dropout who is deep in the trenches of Internet operations or development.
ITL COLLABORATION: During early survey efforts on the IEC repository, it became apparent that few U.S. universities have courses in networking technology, and even fewer have facilities for hands-on exposure and training of students on current Internet hardware and software. With donations of equipment from Cisco Systems and Cable and Wireless, engineering expertise from MCI Worldcom, and financial support from the National Science Foundation, CAIDA is working to create Internet Teaching Lab (ITL) facilities at 25 U.S. universities.
An IEC Advisory Board consisting of Internet leaders from ATT Research, Cisco Systems, Harvard, MCI Worldcom, University College London, University of Kentucky, University of Massachusetts, and Verio assisted in selecting school to be recipients of the lab equipment based on proposals from the universities. Technical merit and educational impact were the key criteria governing which universities were selected. Other criteria included faculty involvement and commitment to Internet engineering curriculum development and implementation; university support for the lab and undergraduate networking classes; availability of the lab for non-university organizations; and involvement of third parties, including industry, in ensuring the successful implementation of the facility.
Equipment donations during Phase 1 of the ITL collaboration include high-speed routing equipment upgraded by a backbone and returned as part of the negotiated trade-in for newer hardware. Broadening later phases of the ITL to include additional vendors, network providers, and non-U.S. schools should add diversity to the ITL, keep labs reasonably up to date with current technology, and enhance the number of quality undergraduates available for the commercial workforce and for fields of networking research and development.
We view the IEC repository and the ITL initiative as prototypes for potentially much larger global paradigms where academia, major Internet providers, and network equipment manufacturers work together to regularly augment and create educational materials and university teaching labs and collaborate to nurture the next generation of Internet engineers.
Support for the IEC is provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF), under NCR-9706181, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and members of the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA). CAIDA is based at the University of California's San Diego Supercomputer Center.