Podcast: Technology Conversations

Welcome to Technology Conversations, brought to you by the IT Training team, Center for Instructional Technology and Training (CITT).

Here you will hear conversations from IT experts in different fields as well as discussions on how technology plays a key role in individuals’ personal and professional lives.


Episode 3: AI for Research

In this episode, we discuss the use of AI for research with Dan Maxwell, an AI Trainer and Consultant with Research Computing. He provides us a better understanding of AI, how it became, its current state, and available resources for those interested in its applications.

Mar. 23, 2023

7:22 Minutes

View Podcast Transcript

Anchalee Phataralaoha: Welcome to our podcast Technology Conversations where we discuss technology related topics from how to find resources for your technology needs to how technology can impact our lives. My name is Anchalee Phataralaoha and I am a training specialist with UFIT Training. I will be your host. Sitting here with us today is Dan Maxwell, AI Trainer and Consultant with Research Computing. Hello Dan, how are you today?

Dan Maxwell: Well, hello there, thank you for having me here.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: So to start off can you share with us your background and also how did you end up here at UF?

Dan Maxwell:
I graduated from college and my undergraduate degrees were in history and French and so I transitioned into information technology and got a master's degree from Indiana University, and then followed that up with a Ph. D and a master’s in organizational systems much later. About half of my career has been spent in business environment side. I worked as a software engineer; I was actually a technical lead for Fortune 500 companies such as Rockwell, Alcoa, Bowater.

In 2016 I saw a position announcement here at the University of Florida for an informatic & data science consultant. So I applied and I was accepted to that position. So I have been at UF since 2016.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: UF is very lucky to have you here. So with that what do you do?

Dan Maxwell: I took my current position in January of 2021. And my current role is to act as an AI trainer primarily in the Research Computing Department. That includes both machine learning and deep learning. Those are two different sub-fields of AI. Since I came on board in January 2021 we have spun up what we called Practicum AI training program and our program is designed for non-technical students. I do do some consulting, but that’s not my primary role in the department.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: So in a nutshell how would you define AI?

Dan Maxwell: Well that’s a really difficult question. I think a really simple answer here would be it is any algorithm that simulates human intelligence. What we see right now in the field in artificial intelligence is called artificial narrow intelligence. So the goal with AI right now is to move towards AGI, which is Artificial General Intelligence, which is more of a kind of intelligence that you and I have.  

Anchalee Phataralaoha: Interesting. So now with that what do people need to know or do if they want to take advantage of AI?

Dan Maxwell: Well, I think there is kind of a little bit of misconception that I have to be really technically talented, I need a background in computer science or mathematics or statistics or physics or whatever. And the good news here you don’t need that. You do need to have however a real sense of curiosity. So first you need to be a curious person. Second you need to have an idea, what do I want to do with AI, what kind of service do I want to offer or what is my research question. And if you’ve got those two or three elements and a desire to continue to learn, we are here for you.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: So now with the university a lot of researchers I’m sure they would like to use AI so how can people take advantage of this?

Dan Maxwell: Well, the applications are so numerous. Keep in mind that this is actually artificial intelligence is actually a fairly well developed field. This is not something new. In fact the word artificial intelligence, the term was coined in 1956. It’s a broad field and so there are many, many different kinds of techniques. Machine learning kind of came into its own in the and it has only been since 2010 that we see deep learning coming into its own. You got to explore many, many different ways to apply AI to your research and I would really encourage folks to contact us because that’s what we are here for. We are here to help you figure it out and try to determine where we can use this. We’re going to have this conversation, what is your research method, and then we take that. We start with that conversation first and then we say okay where what kind of technologies do we have that would make you more efficient or effective as a researcher. A lot of folks if you already had expertise or a lot of exposure to AI, machine learning, and deep learning, you probably don’t need those kinds of conversations with us. Your conversation will be more like what kind of resources do I need, what kind of computational resources do I need.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: So now beyond consultation with research computing what type of other resources available if people would like to integrate AI in their research or study?

Dan Maxwell: Again we have our practicumai.org. Research Computing offers or has Wikipedia like pages where you can get additional information there. Feel free to reach out to us, reach out to me, danielmaxwell@ufl.edu. I got a reading list for those who want to do some initial reading. We also have what we call bird-of-a-feather. Research Computing offers bird-of-a-feather where we get folks who are interested in a particular sub-field of AI and we come together and we have conversations and we talk about what you’re doing and how we can support you and what not.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: So what about if people need to get help, where should they go?

Dan Maxwell: So if you want to reach out to us and contact us directly to schedule a conversation with our AI consultant in Research Computing, you can email us at it-rc-ai@ufl.edu

Anchalee Phataralaoha: Thank you very much Dan for sharing your insights and expertise on AI today. And I hope you have a great day.

Dan Maxwell: Thank you for having me on.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: That’s it folks. And we will see you next time on topic of interest in technology and thank you for joining us today.  

Episode 2: CITT Video Productions

In this episode we talk to Greg D’Angio, Video Production Manager for UFIT Center for Instructional Technology and Training (CITT). He shares with us available resources for faculty and staff looking for a high-quality multimedia production.

Jan. 19, 2023

6:16 Minutes

View Podcast Transcript

Anchalee Phataralaoha: Welcome to our podcast Technology Conversation where we discuss technology related topics from how to find resources for your technology needs to how technology can impact our lives. My name is Anchalee Phataralaoha. I am a training specialist with UFIT Training. I will be your host. Today I have a pleasure of someone sitting with me, our Production Manager, Greg D’Angio. Hi Greg and welcome!

Greg D’Angio: Hi Anchalee, thank you for having me.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: Could you please tell us about your background?

Greg D’Angio: Sure, I’ll be happy to. I graduated from the University of Florida in the early 90s. I think it was 1993 that I graduated from the University of Florida and 2011 I decided to move back to Gainesville and applied for a job in UFIT to work as a production specialist for the CITT video studios. I think Gainesville is my hometown and I think it’s a wonderful place to live and I’m happy to be back here.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: We’re glad to have you here.

Greg D’Angio: Thank you.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: So with that what do you do here?

Greg D’Angio: Well, I’m the production manager for UFIT Center for Instructional Technology and Training video studios. We run two full-service studios and one on-demand studio. We also have a field production team.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: So you have full-service and on-demand studio. I suppose those are two different services. Can you tell me about the difference?

Greg D’Angio: Absolutely. That’s a great question Anchalee. Full-service studio we provide you with technical support during your recording. It is a studio offering many tools including a lightboard, iPad Pro integration, and other available tools plus we do all of your editing for you. The on-demand studio is somewhat like a one-button studio, but there are three buttons so we couldn’t call it a one-button studio. We decided to go with on-demand studio. It is available for you to come on your own. You bring a USB drive. You put it in the computer and it automatically records your video or audio track and you take it with you and you edit it on your own. It’s free of charge to faculty and staff.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: So that’s on-demand studio.

Greg D’Angio: To us we call it on-demand studio. And we’re hoping that it catches.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: So where is the studio? Is it on campus?

Greg D’Angio: Yes, the studios are Room 226 in the HUB, second floor of the HUB right in the center on campus above Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A

Anchalee Phataralaoha: Can everyone use your service?

Greg D’Angio: Anybody can use our services. Our services are free for faculty providing content for official UF courses. Our services are available to anyone at a very, very affordable fee, hourly fee.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: So does it mean the faculty has to pay to come use your services?

Greg D’Angio: No, not if they have official registrar UF courses.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: So who has to pay then?

Greg D’Angio: Sometimes it’s people doing grant proposals, or lab practicals that are not being used in a course.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: So like researchers?

Greg D’Angio: Researchers, yes. We do a lot, ever since Covid, we have done a lot of videos for people presenting outside the country who can’t leave or are at risk and would rather not fly. And we will make them a high-end professional video for them to present over Zoom or Teams.

Staff can use it, but again there is a nominal fee for that. There is a fee for that. We do have an on-demand studio that is free to faculty and staff. And I encourage folks to go to our website, which we will give you the address here in a moment to check out that on-demand studio. Book it at your leisure on the website and feel free to come in and try it out. It’s free of charge.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: How far in advance do people need to schedule?

Greg D’Angio: We prefer that it’s two weeks out at the minimum. During certain time of the year we get booked solid in both studios up to a month to six weeks in advance. So if you are on a short timeline, you need to contact us quickly and we will find time to squeeze you in. But if you’re looking to have a recurring appointment twice a week and you want to get on a schedule which we suggest so that it becomes part of your weekly routine, please reach out to us sooner.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: Anything else you would like to add that people need to know, you know maybe before they come into your studio?

Greg D’Angio: Yes. I strongly encourage you to go to the website, citt.ufl.edu. We are under the UFIT umbrella and you will see many of the services we have available there. Click Video Productions and you can see tour of the studio, sizzle reels of the type of the videos we do, a 360-tour of the on-demand studio. You can also from that website access training, instructional design services, web services, and other technical support opportunities.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: That sounds great. Now final question. Any parting words you would like to leave to everyone?

Greg D’Angio: Well, I’m not much of a person that get quoted. But if I had to say something, I would probably say that content is important, but quality matters equally.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: That is pretty sharp Greg. So thank you for being here with us. And I hope you have a great day.

Greg D’Angio: Thank you Anchalee.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: That’s it for today everyone and we will see you next time for topics of interest in IT.


Episode 1: Introduction

In this episode we have a conversation with Kim Standifer, Assistant Director, on our podcast program and how our community can connect and engage with each other through technology.

Dec. 1, 2022

2:07 Minutes

View Podcast Transcript

Anchalee Phataralaoha: Hello, and welcome to the very first episode of our podcast program called Technology Conversations. My name is Anchalee Phataralaoha and I will be your host. I am a training specialist with UFIT Training. We bring you technological expertise to fill in any training needs you might have. We can also help you design IT training programs and provide consultation on a wide range of technical knowledge for your team. In this first episode I have a pleasure to talk to Kim Standifer, our Assistant Director for IT Training and Web Services.

Good afternoon Kim, how are you today?

Kimbley Standifer: Good afternoon Anchalee, it is such a pleasure to be here.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: I’m glad that you are here. So, to start off could you please share a little bit about yourself?

Kimbley Standifer: Sure. Well, again I am Kim Standifer and I am the Assistant Director in the Center for Instructional Technology & Training and I manage a team of trainers, web designers, and web developers. Really great people to work with.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: So, for this podcast what do you hope for people to get out of after listening to it?

Kimbley Standifer: You know I hope this podcast serves as a platform for us to share ideas, share resources, share knowledge from industry experts. And when I say industry experts I mean particularly those who are working in information technology or academic technology.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: So, any final thoughts that you would you like to share?

Kimbley Standifer: Yeah, I hope that people will become engaged, listen, and want to contribute to our discussions.

Anchalee Phataralaoha: Thank you very much Kim for joining us today and for spending some time with us this afternoon. That's it for today. We will see you all next month for a topic of interest in IT and we look forward to seeing you all again soon.