A Quick Look Back: Academic Relations 2009

Feb 17, 2010

It’s no wonder Yahoo has a strong connection with universities. Started by two grad students in a trailer on campus at Stanford, Yahoo continues to stay close to its roots in a number of ways. In 2009, Yahoo’s Academic Relations team continued to paint the halls purple with a combination of strong relationships and unique programs for faculty and students. Close ties start with strong relationships. Yahoo’s Campus Relationship Managers are the company’s ambassadors, maintaining strategic connections that lead to new research projects and business engagements, keeping Yahoo top-of-mind with faculty and students. Don McGillen, Beth Crow and Ken Schmidt spread the purple on campuses in the US, with Muthusamy Chelliah in India. From sponsoring seminar series, to encouraging innovative research, to facilitating project courses, these envoys engage faculty and students in new ways to build value to Yahoo and the universities. For example, Yahoo scientists have delivered more than 100 technical talks in 2009 – including Yehuda Koren’s “First World Tour” to 8 US universities following the Netflix Prize announcement. Our academic programs are unique to Yahoo and focus on working with the academic community to further scientific research. Some of the program highlights include:
  • Hack U takes the excitement of this unique Yahoo overnight experience to campuses around the globe with a series of compelling technical talks and classroom lectures, followed by a 24 hour student hack competition. In 2009 Hack U visited eleven schools in the US, Canada and India. The students built more than 300 hacks showcasing Yahoo technologies. Six of the students entered the Open Hack event in October and one of them came away with the best overall Hack. Jamie Lockwood has nurtured Hack U from a concept to a very successful innovation engine that shows off Yahoo’s culture, talent and open technology to student superstars and encourages them to develop applications using Yahoo’s open tools.
  • The Key Scientific Challenge program encourages graduate students and faculty to work on Yahoo’s most interesting scientific problems. More than 125 students sent in proposals; we awarded KSC prizes to 21 students across 13 universities. In addition to a small stipend award, students were invited to Sunnyvale for a two-day conference with our scientists and engineers.
  • The M45 cloud computing program made major strides this year as Yahoo provided access to a 500 node (4,000 core) cluster facility dedicated to academic research. Faculty at Carnegie Mellon University have written 40 technical publications based on research on the Yahoo cluster, and work is ramping up at UC Berkeley, Cornell and the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. Unlike other industry partnership facilities, faculty get access to the guts of the Yahoo cluster, collecting log data necessary to advance the science in systems research. Thomas Kwan is the technical director of this Labs-based program.
  • Our Faculty Research Engagement program run by Kim Capps-Tanaka provided support for 50 faculty and students at 16 global universities – three times more than in 2008. Since faculty prefer working with Yahoo data rather than monetary grants, Yahoo researchers collaborated closely with leading academic researchers and their students to further their work.
  • Webscope™- this unique data sharing program saw significant growth in 2009 with 24 datasets available on our catalog – double what we offered last year – and 1000 datasets (up from 330 one year ago) being used by 350 faculty at 170 universities around the world. Yahoo has been cited in 28 technical papers, journals and theses. Kim Capps-Tanaka leads the Webscope program, looking for ways to extend the reach, lower the cost and increase the scientific importance of our data.
  • The Purple Footprints program, managed by Alex Harte, brought the Yahoo spirit to campuses with Yahoo foosball and ping pong tables and giant chess sets for student activity centers and social events.
We’re excited about the opportunities we see coming from research faculty, the bright minds who are future Yahoo employees, and the sales and marketing opportunities to be developed. For more information, see our website or contact Ken Schmidt.