Undergraduate Scholarship Opportunity in High Performance Computing and AI

Interested in high performance computing and AI? A National Science Foundation grant awarded to Assistant Professor Mickey MacKie and supported by UF Information Technology (UFIT) is open to two undergraduate women.

The two selected students will have the opportunity to develop their project utilizing the university’s supercomputing resources. Students will also receive a financial stipend along with mentoring throughout their project’s lifecycle. Additional details about this undergraduate research opportunity, along with the application form, are available here:

https://ufl.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eVvjmoKeH4XbrCu.

Dr. MacKie and AI Support Manager Ying Zhang are accepting applications for the Women in High Performance Computing Scholarship through 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 15, 2024. Undergraduates from all disciplines are welcome to apply! Students with questions prior to submitting their application are welcome to contact Ms. Ying Zhang.

Spear Phishing on the Rise

A more personalized, sophisticated, and invasive form of phishing is on the rise: Spear phishing. Spear phishing is a social engineering tactic used to steal sensitive information from a specific person or group by tailoring the message. For example, an attacker could pretend to be an IT staff member from your college to trick you into revealing your GatorLink credentials.   

While regular phishing attempts try to scam as many people as possible through generally deceptive language, the personalization of spear phishing attacks makes them more effective and more dangerous. Barracuda‘s 2023 Phishing Trends Report found that spear phishing emails make up less than 0.1% of all emails sent yet cause 66% of all breaches.

There are several signs to look for if you think you have received a spear phishing email in your GatorMail. Is the email address domain from a legitimate organization? If the email appears to have come from a UF email address, utilize the UF directory to confirm the sender’s contact information. Also, hover your cursor over any links in the email and review the URL before clicking on it. Be wary of overly friendly language or strange use of slang, imperfect sayings or misuse of English. Cybercriminals frequently use language that indicates urgency (like “ASAP” or “URGENT!”) in spear phishing attempts.

If you get a spear phishing message in your GatorMail, immediately send it to the Information Security Office using the phish alert button. If you’ve fallen victim to a spear phishing message and unwittingly provided your UF username and password (i.e., your GatorLink credentials) to a scammer, then contact the UFIT Help Desk at once (352-392-HELP/4357). When you report that your account has been compromised, staff will help you change your password and do everything they can to minimize the impacts of the account compromise.

‘Hero’ Calculation Capability Yields Significant Achievement

Basic biology textbooks will tell you that all life on Earth is built from four types of molecules: proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids.  But what if we could actually show that these “molecules of life,” such as amino acids and DNA bases, can be formed naturally in the right environment? Researchers at the University of Florida are using HiPerGator – the fastest supercomputer in U.S. higher education – to test this experiment. 

“Our previous success enabled us to use Machine Learning and AI to calculate energies and forces on molecular systems, with results that are identical to those of high-level quantum chemistry but around 1 million times faster,” said Adrian Roitberg, Ph.D., a professor in UF’s Department of Chemistry who has been using Machine Learning to study chemical reactions for six years. “These questions have been asked before but, due to computational limitations, previous calculations used small numbers of atoms and could not explore the range of time needed to obtain results. But with HiPerGator, we can do it.” 

HiPerGator – with its AI models and vast capacity for Graphics Processing Units, or GPUs (specialized processors designed to accelerate graphics renderings) – is transforming the molecular research game. Until a decade ago, conducting research on the evolution and interactions of large collections of atoms and molecules could only be done using simple computer simulation experiments; the computing power needed to handle the datasets just wasn’t available.  Read the full press release here.

UFIT Senior Director Erik Deumens explained how this full takeover of HiPerGator was possible: 

“HiPerGator has the unique capability to run very large ‘hero’ calculations that use the entire machine, with the potential to lead to breakthroughs in science and scholarship,” Deumens said. “When we found out about the work Dr. Roitberg’s group was doing, we approached him to try a ‘hero’ run with the code he developed.” 

Researchers interested in discussing using HiPerGator for hero calculations are welcome to contact Dr. Deumens.

2024 Tech Fair

The annual Tech Fair is an opportunity for all students–undergrads, graduate, and professional students– regardless of major, to learn about IT services and support available to them during their UF career. The 2024 Tech Fair will be held on:

Wednesday, Feb. 28

10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Marston Breezeway – CSE Plaza

This year’s experiential event focuses on helping students utilize AI and online tools to get to the next level. Get information about a variety of tech as well as tech support (such as account questions or getting fast secure campus Wi-Fi on your phone) during the event. Have you thought about what it might take to get that coveted internship? Check out Tech Fair and see how managing your online portfolio or completing a LinkedIn Learning career path might get your name on the top of that internship list! You can also see some of the technologies available in Marston, get tips on setting up a great GitHub presence, and meet with a Career Connections Center rep who will answer your questions and show you how to use their online resources.

As always, Tech Fair also means prizes and this year UF Information Technology has several available! Stop by the welcome tent and learn how you could win Apple Air Tags, a JALL smart wakeup light, Beats, a JBL Bluetooth speaker, water bottles, and more. See you Feb. 28 on the plaza, Gators!

Certification Practice Exams Now Available on LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning now offers technical certification preparation practice exams to help users prepare for official certification exams. Tech certifications are an industry-recognized benchmark for verifying skills, especially for roles in technical support, network administration, and information security.

With LinkedIn Learning, users can choose from nearly 50 practice exams to assess their current subject matter knowledge and also pinpoint what skills need improvement to be successful prior to taking the official exam. Each practice exam covers current certification content from leading providers such as AWS, CompTIA, ISC2, and Microsoft Azure. You can also customize your practice exam by choosing what skills to test on.

Your FREE LinkedIn Learning account provided by UF Information Technology (UFIT) offers access to the certification preparation practice exams, along with 20,000+ courses covering a wide range of professional and personal skills.

Visit https://elearning.ufl.edu/supported-services/linkedin-learning/ to activate your account. Need assistance? Contact the UFIT Help Desk by calling 352-392-HELP or visiting 132 Hub, across from the Starbucks. Students can also stop by the 2024 Tech Fair on Feb. 28 to learn how to make the most of free access to Linkedin Learning!

Encouraging Students to Enroll Devices in Eduroam

This month, UF Information Technology (UFIT) is launching a proactive educational and communication initiative aimed at enhancing student awareness and utilization of eduroam.

This initiative was conceived in response to student feedback regarding the quality and accessibility of Wi-Fi in the university’s public areas, particularly in the UF libraries.  After thorough testing conducted by UFIT staff, it was determined that the Wi-Fi infrastructure in the libraries is operating as intended. Further analysis indicated that students can significantly enhance their Wi-Fi experience by making two simple adjustments: enrolling their devices in the eduroam service and deactivating their smartphone’s hot spot. Thus the three messaging “drumbeats” are the focus of the campaign:

  1. You’re a Gator—not a [UF] Guest! Enroll in eduroam.
  2. Get on eduroam for up to 10X’s faster internet!
  3. DYK? Your phone’s Wi-Fi hotspot interferes with the Wi-Fi campus signal.

Another benefit students will see upon enrolling in eduroam is they won’t have to re-register every 24 hours to use the UF Guest Wi-Fi. Device registration eliminates the need to do that, while also providing the most secure connection available.

Outreach support for the You’re a Gator–not a [UF] Guest! campaign includes monitor images, multiple videos, a social media campaign, signage in strategic, student gathering locations, and tabling events. Campaign materials (e.g., monitor images, videos, and stickers) will be made available to UF’s colleges and divisions, to help spread the word. Anyone with questions about the campaign is welcome to contact UFIT Communications.

Elevating Generative AI Recipes to Encourage Authentic Assessments

UF Information Technology (UFIT) offers multiple Tech Bytes each year. Tech Bytes are shorter, “byte-sized” events that demonstrate new/emerging technologies and strategies to enhance teaching and learning. The next Tech Byte is on Thursday, Feb. 29, and focuses on encouraging authentic assessments with artificial intelligence (AI).

Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024

2:00 – 3:00 p.m. (via Zoom)

Registration link

Educational Technologist Chris Sharp and Instructional Designer Leslie Mojeiko are hosting this new Tech Byte that explores how to utilize generative AI to increase authentic assessments in the classroom. Chris and Leslie previously shared their AI Prompt Cookbook in a 2023 Tech Byte, which contains recipes (or prompts) designed to enhance teaching and learning. This new session will feature recipes that elevate instructors’ use of generative AI to move beyond basic use and embrace how it can transform the teaching and learning process. Join Chris and Leslie to learn new tech recipes for debating, role playing, tutoring, and more.

Previous Tech Byte event recordings are available online at no charge. Instructors with questions about this event are welcome to contact UFIT’s Center for Instructional Technology and Training via their online form.

New NVIDIA DLI Workshop Offered in February

The University of Florida’s ambassadorship status with NVIDIA means that faculty, students, and staff have free training opportunities in accelerated computing and applied AI. Through the NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute (DLI) and in coordination with UFIT, a two-day Generative AI with Diffusion Models workshop is being offered for the first time at UF on February 22-23.

Day/Date/Time: Thursday and Friday, Feb. 22–23, from 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. each day

Location: Malachowsky Hall Auditorium – Room 1000

Register to Attend: Registration Link

The Generative AI with Diffusion Models workshop is taught by UF’s NVIDIA AI Technology Center Site Manager and Senior Data Scientist Kaleb Smith. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of denoising diffusion models to generate images from text prompts. Proficiency in PyTorch and deep learning models is required to attend, with participants who complete the 8-hour course earning a certificate of completion.

Learning highlights in this workshop include:

  • How to build a U-Net to generate images from pure noise
  • Improving the quality of generated images with the Denoising Diffusion process
  • Controlling the image output with context embeddings
  • Generating images from English text-prompts using CLIP

NVIDIA DLI workshops are in-person only and not recorded for later/repeat viewing. Anyone with questions about this workshop is welcome to contact Research Computing Training Team Lead Matt Gitzendanner.

Money Available for Tech Purchases that Enable Student Success

Could your college or major benefit from a new software or hardware purchase? Is there a tech resource you wish UF’s libraries offered? The 2024 Student Technology Fee grant submissions cycle is now open to all students, faculty, and staff with IT-based purchase ideas that support teaching and learning at UF.

The annual proposal review process involves the randomized selection of a committee comprised of several students along with one faculty member to determine which proposals are recommended to CIO Elias Eldayrie for funding. Students are encouraged to submit their ideas because part of their tuition each semester funds the Tech Fee program–at a rate of $5.25 per credit hour for undergraduate courses and $6.56 per credit hour for graduate courses. In other words, this student-led initiative is paid for and determined by YOU.

Winning proposals from the 2022-23 Tech Fee funding cycle include a podcasting studio at Marston Science Library (available to all students regardless of major), the Arts & AI Virtual Workstation Studio for College of the Arts students to experiment with AI technologies, and state-of-the-art equipment purchased for the Quest 2 astrophotography course. Your one-time proposal could change course instruction and the student experience at UF for years to come!

Did you know that LinkedIn Learning and iPads for borrowing at Smathers were both proposals initially funded by your Tech Fee? The deadline for submitting a proposal is Monday, March 18, 2024. Students must partner with a UF department or college on their proposals so get started now! Review the 2024 Tech Fee Proposal Template for submission guidelines, including how to format your proposal and who you must send it to for review prior to deadline. Important dates for the 2024 funding cycle are listed on the Tech Fee Grants webpage. If you have questions, please email UFIT Manager Anne Allen (alallen@ufl.edu), support administrator for the Technology Fee Advisory Committee.


 

The Institutional Impacts of a Cyberattack

Higher education is facing an exponentially growing threat: Cyberattacks. Check Point Software reports educational institutions experienced an average of 2,507 cyberattack attempts per institution per week in the first three months of 2023 alone! Universities and colleges are at a high risk of suffering a data breach or a ransomware attack because the amount and types of data created and stored is extremely valuable to cybercriminals–data like student records, banking information, protected health information, and research data. Restricted data falling into the wrong hands can be devastating for UF, its constituents, to university business partnerships, and for funding from federal and state agencies. The welfare of the campus community and even our recruitment capabilities are all on the line.

Information security is our shared responsibility! Faculty, students, and staff must all be aware of what’s at stake, and do their part to help protect UF from cyberattacks. According to a 2023 IBM Security report, data breaches initiated through compromised credentials (such as GatorLink login information) take the longest for institutions to resolve and can be incredibly costly. Help prevent data breaches by practicing caution when opening any email received in your GatorMail marked [EXTERNAL EMAIL]. These emails come from outside the UF organization and could potentially be phishing attempts. Pay close attention to any email requesting your GatorLink login or other personally identifiable information, and report suspicious messages directly to UFIT with the phish alert report button in the top right corner of your GatorMail.

UFIT’s Information Security Office’s website has recently refreshed its online presence with new resources. Take some time to visit https://security.ufl.edu/protect-yourself/social-engineering/ and learn about different types of cyberattacks and some best practices for protecting yourself…and UF.