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Steve McGregor, UTD
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UTD, Italian University to Partner on Telecom Research

Memo of Understanding Provides for Exchange of Students and Faculty

RICHARDSON, Texas (Feb. 14, 2002) - Researchers in a centuries-old Italian town where Galileo and Fermi once studied have partnered with The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) to conduct research into advanced telecommunications networks.

Officials from Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, a university in Pisa, Italy, and UTD this week signed a memo of understanding which provides for joint research and an exchange of faculty members and students of the two institutions.

The document calls for initial collaboration on research into optical networks, the infrastructure over which voice and data traffic is carried via photons, or light. Eventually, the two universities could broaden their joint efforts to include studies in the disciplines of computer science and informatics, biomedical engineering and microrobotics.

“UTD is delighted to begin a collaborative relationship with an outstanding institution like the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies,” said Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, UTD’s executive vice president and provost. “It is consistent with our goal of becoming a key player on the international stage in cutting-edge research in emerging fields.”

The agreement with the Italian university comes on the heels of similar partnerships between UTD and universities and research institutions in Brazil, China and Canada, focusing on studies in both telecommunications and nanotechnology.

“This new relationship is a significant development for both Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna and UTD,” said Dr. Piero Castoldi, an associate professor at the Pisa university. “Telecommunications is an area of expertise for both institutions and, by working together, we will achieve synergies that will strengthen our education and research activities in this important field.”

Castoldi is on a one-month visit to UTD to finalize the formal agreement between the two universities and to begin planning its implementation. According to Castoldi, the first exchange of students and faculty between Pisa and Richardson could begin as soon as next fall.

He envisions the initial exchange will involve several faculty members from both schools. Later, graduate students could spend a year studying and doing research at the other institution. The intent is ultimately to enable students from one school to complete a full master’s or doctoral degree program at the other university, with comprehensive coordination and advising by both institutions. Exchanges of post-doctoral students also may be possible in the future.

“The pairing of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna and UTD is an excellent match,” said Dr. Andrea Fumagalli, associate professor of electrical engineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and head of the Optical Networking Advanced Research (OpNeAR) Lab at UTD, who helped initiate the collaborative relationship. “UTD has outstanding connections to many technology companies in the nearby Telecom Corridor; likewise, Scuola Sant’Anna has ties to key private and public telecommunications research organizations there.”

The head of Scuola Sant’Anna’s Telecommunications School, Dr. Giancarlo Prati, is also director of the Italian National Consortium for Telecommunications, which is composed of faculty and researchers from 30 member universities in Italy. In addition, the university collaborates with Marconi, the global communications and information technology company, and has numerous research projects funded by Italy’s National Research council, the equivalent of the National Science Foundation in the United States, as well as by the Ministry of University.

Officials of UTD and Scuola Sant’Anna said they expect their initial research to focus on “metropolitan networks,” that intermediate portion of the transmission system that links the “backbone,” or long-haul telecommunications network, with “last mile” connections to individual homes and offices. Their goal, they said, will be to develop a “technology/cost solution” that, through use of innovative protocols, provides a simplified, yet reliable and agile, connection that is also cost-effective.

Scuola Sant’Anna is located in the Italian region of Tuscany. It is a public university that confers only graduate degrees, although it offers undergraduate classes in conjunction with the University of Pisa. The university has a total enrollment of about 500 students. It is a highly selective institution that accepts just the top five percent of applicants.

In addition to the renowned 16th century scientist, mathematician and philosopher Galileo Galilei, the town of Pisa counts among the alumni of its academic institutions eminent scientists (two Nobel laureates in physics, including renowned physicist Enrico Fermi), writers (a Nobel winner in literature) and statesmen (two-time prime minister of Italy Giuliano Amato).

About UTD

The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls more than 7,000 undergraduate and 5,000 graduate students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at

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August 15, 2002