How to Find More Tech Talent: Georgia Tech Disrupts the Market

Whether you’re at MasterCard, AirBnB, AT&T or most any start up across the country, if you are looking for technical people, you’ve likely got a problem.  You cannot find enough qualified employees.

By all counts, there is a current and projected shortage of Bachelors and Masters degree holders in high-growth technical areas, such as software development, mobile application development and data science. With educational institutions able to support only a finite number of students in traditional brick-and-mortar degree programs, online education has ballooned to over $100B 1. However, tuition for an MS degree at a mainstream online university, such as University of Phoenix, is over $30,000 and at a top-brand university, such as Carnegie-Mellon, is $43,000 and up. This is not a recipe for filling the skills gap anytime soon.

As with nearly every aspect of modern life, though, disruption is underway – in this case, driven by Georgia Tech in partnership with AT&T and Udacity.

Educating Students Who Could Not Otherwise Earn the Degree

“There is currently a revolution in higher education. And we don’t want only to be part of it – we want to lead it,” says Zvi Galil, George P. Imlay Jr. Dean of Computing at Georgia Tech and Marconi Society Board Member.

That’s why Georgia Tech is the country’s first top-tier university to offer an online masters degree in computer science (OMSCS) that is equivalent in every way to an in-person degree – and that comes at a price tag reflecting the cost savings of online education. At $7,000, Georgia Tech is making its world-class MS much more accessible for qualified candidates around the world.

Since the degree is affordable and uses technology to make it available to anyone with a broadband connection, it gives nearly all of the applicants the opportunity to obtain a degree that they would not otherwise be able to get. An older cohort than the in-person student body, 75% of the OMSCS students are employed full-time and 94% work while enrolled. Though the students come from 100 countries, the 78% domestic / 22% international enrollment is the virtual reverse of Georgia Tech’s in-person campus population and reflects the appeal of the program to people who want to remain where they are while earning their degree.

The Economics of Partnership

It takes a village – and a lot of resources – to create an online experience that equals the quality of a traditional in-person education.

Georgia Tech partnered with Udacity to provide expertise in the art and business of online education. Serving over 4M students, Udacity is the brain trust for best practices in online learning and provided Georgia Tech with expertise in creating compelling content and student experiences.

Creating a great online course is like producing a movie – it requires content built for the medium, along with takes and re-takes to make it perfect. It costs $200,000 – $300,000 to develop an engaging and effective online course. In addition, there are the typical costs associated with a degree-program course, including instructor time and infrastructure.

Galil was determined that the OMSCS was the right strategic direction for Georgia Tech, but lacked the large endowment of a private university. He simultaneously moved the project through the approval process, including a Board of Regent’s approval, while seeking outside funding to support course development. Through relationships with AT&T and Udacity, he obtained funding to help Georgia Tech create the online courses much more quickly than they would have been able to otherwise.

What’s in it for AT&T? The company hires over 30,000 employees each year, including many from technical disciplines. 300 of its employees are in the program.  By supporting OMSCS, AT&T is increasing the supply of technical talent by making a world-class degree available to qualified applicants with a broadband connection.

Increasing the Supply of Technical Talent in the US

Today’s OMSCS program boasts 111 graduates and 4000 students that have over 700 advanced degrees between them. They work for companies like AT&T, Microsoft, IBM and Google.

The most amazing result of all: the US alone will have 7% more MS degree holders in Computer Science each year as a result of the OMSCS program2. With students in 100 countries, the program will help increase the world’s population of high caliber technical employees.

Where will the online revolution go from here? Only time will tell, but Galil is already thinking ahead to its applications for undergraduates. In Spring 2017, Georgia Tech will pilot an online-only section of its popular “Intro to Computing” course for undergrads. Though the course will start small—enrollment is being limited to 50 students—it has the potential for big impact.

“What if we could leverage online education to shorten the time students spend on campus as undergraduates?” Galil said. “According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computing is the only professional category for which the number of jobs available each year is more than the number of graduates—and by a factor of two. In higher education, it’s our duty and mission to find innovative ways to address this national need. At Georgia Tech, that’s exactly what we’re trying to do.”

Learn more about Georgia Tech’s OMSCS degree:

Usable Knowledge: The Digital Bridge: A Model for How Online Education Can Increase Access to Higher Education

New York Times: An Online Education Breakthrough? A Master’s Degree for a Mere $7000

EduTech, Brisbane, Australia:  Improving Education Through Accessibility and Affordability

Harvard Computer Science Colloquium: Online Master of Science in Computer Science, featuring Dr. Zvi Galil


  1. Forbes
  2. Usable Knowledge

Vinton G. Cerf to Lead Marconi Society


Internet pioneer to carry on Marconi’s legacy by recognizing major technology contributors, continuing support for promising researchers and promoting sustainable technology

The Marconi Society, dedicated to furthering scientific achievements in communications and related technologies, announced today that Internet pioneer Vinton G. Cerf has been elected Chairman of the Marconi Society. Mr. Cerf, who previously served as vice chairman of the Marconi Society, succeeds Sir David Payne, a leading optical fiber researcher and inventor who led the Marconi Society for six years and who will remain on the Board.

“I’m honored to be chosen to lead the Marconi Society and support its important work,” says Cerf. “Radio is pervasive. It’s everywhere in our society now. We carry mobiles and we can foresee many devices that are going to be communicating by radio, including self-driving cars. The technology is still evolving. More and more ways are being discovered to use radio and other communication technologies every day. Radio has proven to be a pervasive technology and that is why it is important to recognize the inventor, as well as the people who followed him.”

In addition to the annual Marconi Prize, widely considered a pinnacle achievement in telecommunications and the Internet, the Marconi Society recognizes exceptional young researchers with the Paul Baran Young Scholar Award.

“I’m a big enthusiast of the Young Scholar program, since that’s where all the new developments come from,” Mr. Cerf says. “This program often accelerates people in their careers. It’s such a joy to meet these young people and encourage them in their work.”

Cerf also cites the importance of the Young Scholars’ Celestini Project, which is focused on developing countries in Africa, and provides support and mentoring to local students who create new applications of technology to benefit their communities. “Probably the most important thing we can do is to bring new technology to bear and have the people who are using it be the same people who are developing it,” Mr. Cerf says. “The whole idea is to create a sustainable wave of technology and evolution.”

Mr. Cerf is widely known as one of the “Fathers of the Internet,” and is credited with designing TCP/IP protocols and the basic architecture of the Internet together with Robert Kahn. He currently serves as Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google. He received the Marconi Prize in 1998, and has been honored with the U.S. National Medal of Technology and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States to its citizens.

Connecting Everything by Redefining the Atom

There was a time when the laws of physics bound the possible. After all, the physical world, from living tissue to digital networks that carry our information and communications around the world, is based on atoms that define how these things behave. There are upper limits on performance, actions and reactions. But what if we could essentially redefine the atom to create next generation devices that are highly tuned to behave in very specific ways? Doing this could have groundbreaking impacts in security, communications, health and safety.

It’s happening right now.

Nanostructures are the New Atoms

It all starts with metamaterials (from the Greek word µετά meta, meaning “beyond”), which are materials engineered to have properties not found in nature. We make metamaterials by assembling multiple elements made from composite materials such as metals or dielectrics (materials that are poor conductors of electricity, but efficient supporters of electrostatic fields). They are usually arranged in repeating patterns, at scales that are smaller than the wavelengths of the phenomena they influence.

While natural materials have properties based on their elements (for example, metal-based materials are strong, but heavy and have high loss), metamaterials have properties based on these repeating patterns, and their exact shape, geometry, size, orientation and arrangement gives them their smart properties capable of manipulating electromagnetic waves. 1 By arranging metamaterials in specific ways at infrared and visible wavelengths, scientists create nanostructures, which are essentially sequences of man-made atoms.

That’s what Marconi Society Paul Baran Young Scholar Salvatore Campione is working on as a Senior Member of Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories. This work recently led the IEEE Eta Kappa Nu Honor Society to name him as the Society’s 2016 Outstanding Young Professional.

From Communications to Healthcare

Nanostructures are used to create devices that can be engineered and designed to solve a variety of problems. Here are just a few:

In Communications

As our world becomes more connected and the number of people and devices on the network grows exponentially, moving information quickly, cheaply and effectively becomes more important than ever. While an ever-increasing portion of our networks is moving to the optical communication wavelength of 1.55 micrometers, thanks to optical fibers, there are many devices, such as filters, modulators and multiplexers that do not offer the speed and performance we need. Optoelectronics is a branch of research working to optimize these bottleneck devices for fiber speeds and performance.

Researchers in optoelectronics, such as Salvatore Campione, are investigating metamaterials to be used as filters and modulators to enhance network’s performance across all devices. While metamaterials and nanostructures allow researchers to create any type of filter, once these filters are tested and refined, they are fabricated and become static parts of the network. They can work only at specific wavelengths and specific performance levels. Campione and others are working to make these filters more flexible by designing active devices, which use external stimuli to tell the device to reconfigure itself, e.g. when it is time to change frequency of operation. Today’s communication network consists of many devices, each performing its own separate function. Metamaterials may allow us to design devices with multiple functionalities. By using such devices, networks will be faster, cheaper, more efficient and use less space – and be more responsive to each user’s individual needs.

In Healthcare

One of the human body’s defense mechanisms is to destroy foreign objects that invade it. Nanostructures are so small that they can be put into the body without the body trying to destroy them. This ability to exist within the human body, to be designed for specific purposes and to be controlled by scientists makes nanostructures ideal for fighting cancer. Scientists can put a specially designed nanostructure into the body, move it to the location of the carcinogenic cells and illuminate those cells with electromagnetic radiation.  The nanostructures then absorb the energy, heat up and destroy the bad cells. This allows an incredibly targeted approach to isolating and killing deadly cells in the body.

In the Environment

There are many environments in which toxins and chemicals need to be kept at or below specific levels to keep employees in those environments safe. From oil fields, where certain chemicals need to be kept at low enough concentrations to prevent ignition, to semiconductor manufacturing, where dust inhalation can be fatal, nanosensing devices have the potential to provide a much more granular level of accuracy than current sensing technologies. Each of the elements in these environments might need to be sensed at different frequencies and sensors can be built to detect specific molecules. Since some of these toxins can be dangerous even in very limited quantities, extremely high levels of sensitivity are required to detect and react to environmental hazards.

This intersection of physics, engineering and chemistry helps us create solutions that we would not have thought possible even twenty years ago. With applications ranging from seismic protection to cloaking devices that make aircraft invisible to radar, these new metamaterial-based building blocks will be a key part of our future.

1. Wikipedia:

Marconi Society Honors Four 2016 Young Scholars

Leading edge research will fulfill the promise of 5G and the Internet of Things

Mountain View, CA, September 14, 2016

The Marconi Society, dedicated to furthering scientific achievements in communications and the internet will honor four 2016 Paul Baran Young Scholars for their outstanding research and innovations in networking. The awards will be presented at a gala on November 2 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, where Brad Parkinson, the “father of GPS,” will receive the $100,000 Marconi Prize.

bhardia2Dinesh Bharadia, a Stanford PhD and native of India who is currently a graduate researcher at MIT, was selected for his work on full duplex radios. The 28-year-old has developed a solution that effectively doubles available radio spectrum in a bandwidth-constrained world. Solving a problem that has stumped scientists for almost 150 years, Bharadia’s work provides effective self-interference cancellation technology that enables radios to transmit and receive on the same frequency.

Stanford, Prof. Sachin Katti, says Bharadia’s work has other important implications. “Dinesh’s work enables a whole host of new applications, from extremely low-power Internet of Things connectivity to motion tracking. It has the potential to be used for important future applications such as building novel wireless imaging that can enable driverless cars in severe weather scenarios, help blind people to navigate indoors, and much more.”


Italian researcher Stefania Bartoletti, Ph.D., was selected for her work in network localization and navigation. The 27 year-old researcher at the University of Ferrara, who also is a Marie-Skłodowska Curie Global Research Fellow, focuses on providing accurate location of people and things in environments where current technologies, such as GPS, are unavailable or insufficient. Bartoletti recently joined MIT as a visiting researcher, where she will expand her work by developing learning techniques for analyzing the behavior of people and things in different environments. This behavior analysis will find application in intelligent transportation, smart buildings, business intelligence, and Internet of Things.

“Stefania’s research embraces communication, localization, and information theories together with statistical inference and optimization for solving real-world problems. On an anecdotal note, Stefania conducted her research a stone’s throw away from the villa where Marconi made his first experiments,” said Andrea Conti, Associate Professor at the University of Ferrara.

georgemac1_cropGeorge MacCartney, Jr., a Ph.D. candidate at New York University (NYU), was chosen for his outstanding work in millimeter wave wireless communications. The 27-year-old American researcher is being honored for his outstanding academic achievements that pave the way for 5G, the next generation of wireless networks that will significantly increase bandwidth and capacity globally.

“George has developed foundational knowledge that has truly changed the future of wireless communications,” says NYU Wireless Professor Theodore Rappaport, MacCartney’s advisor. “Using novel measurement equipment that he built from scratch, he proved to the world that millimeter wave wireless communications could work well in urban non-line-of-sight conditions at frequencies above 70 GHz — something that was not believed to be true before he did it. He literally has influenced the world’s standard bodies with his work.” The FCC’s recent vote approving millimeter wave communications above 70 GHZ is based partly on his work, according to Dr. Rappaport.

my-photo-1The fourth Paul Baran Young Scholar selected is Junwen Zhang, a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The 28-year-old researcher is being honored for advancements to high-speed fiber and wireless technology that will deliver higher speeds, better quality and more responsive services to business and consumers around the world, helping expand coverage areas that promising new standards like 5G will require. His contributions include achieving record-breaking transmission speeds in 400G optical transport systems and developing a robust wireless link system that can maintain stable data throughput in diverse weather environments.

“Dr. Zhang has distinguished himself with a unique ability to identify research challenges and create innovative solutions through a rigorous thought process. His work will support advanced communications systems that provide high-speed services and enhance network quality.  He is highly productive, publishing more than 130 peer-reviewed technical papers in the last eight years in prestigious journals and conferences,” said Zhang’s nominator, Dr. Gee-Kung Chang, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and the Byers Eminent Scholar Chair Professor in Optical Networking at Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Bob Tkach, Director of Advanced Photonics Research at Bell Laboratories and chairman of the Young Scholar Selection Committee, says, “2017 was a remarkable year in which we received an exceptionally large group of impressive nominations, almost all of which were award-worthy. The four we selected are on track to make spectacular contributions to our field. We look forward to seeing their careers blossom.”

Young Scholar candidates are nominated by their academic advisors and selected by an international panel comprised of engineers from leading universities and companies.

About the Marconi Society

Established in 1974 by the daughter of Guglielmo Marconi, the Nobel Laureate who invented radio, the Marconi Society promotes awareness of key technology and policy issues in telecommunications and the Internet, and recognizes significant individual achievements through the Marconi Prize and Young Scholar Awards. More information may be found at

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