MURPA (Monash Undergraduate Research Projects Abroad)- Ground Breaking Program for Australia

MURPA - Monash Undergraduate Research Projects Abroad

MURPA 2010

MURPA 2010: Left to right: Edgar Kautzner, Wai Keung Yiu Man Lung, Jian Zhang, James Wetter, Lin Wei, Geoff Pascoe

MURPA supports a unique summer mode placement in a leading research group overseas. It not only provides a research experience at the undergraduate level, but does that in an international context. Students are placed for a period of 8 weeks, allowing them to integrate into the research groups as team members.

In today’s educational arena, we must provide students with opportunities to work/study abroad to prepare them for global citizenship and professional competence in a multi-cultural workplace. Numerous reports have challenged universities to develop educational programs that provide an integrated academic basis for developing students’ cultural/global competencies. But to meet this challenge, we must face issues of scaling programs to include significant portions of the academic community and to build the structure that will allow such programs to thrive. We posit that those universities that become the educational trailblazers will reap the benefits: greater opportunities for their students in industry or academics; and ultimately greater competition to attend their institutions. These universities will be the ones that provide comprehensive international research opportunities, and that will graduate socially educated and culturally mindful students. It will take innovative leaders - administrators and faculty - who dare to try new approaches and who can communicate the value of such programs to the individual, to the institution, and ultimately to society.

We believe MURPA fills a need of many students, for example those who cannot take a long break in their studies, those that want research experience, those who want the challenge and opportunity to live and work in an international setting. Our use of high bandwidth video conference technology has had a profound impact on these programs.

MURPA also involves an advanced seminar scheme , in which students can attend seminars given by world leading experts before they leave. The seminar scheme is novel, because it uses a cutting edge High Definition interactive video link to the University of California, making it feasible to attract some of the world's best researchers "virtually" to Monash. These seminars also allow students to "meet" potential UCSD mentors and get some information about potential projects.

The benefits have been immense. Remote mentors can engage with students prior to the internship in ways that were simply not possible before. HD video is substantially superior to older technology and supports a fairly natural interaction. Without high-speed networks none of this would be possible. The program leverages substantial investment in network infrastructure in both California and Australia, but also in the cross pacific links. We were able to secure 150 MBits/sec only because the network is substantially over-provisioned. (We experienced almost no dropped frames at this data rate). Moving the dedicated light paths would enable transmission without compression, further lowering latency and enhancing the interaction.

Videos and slides  of most of the 2009 and 2010 Seminar presentations are available on our Multimedia pages.

MURPA received pilot funding for 2008 and 2009 from the the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (International), the Monash eResearch Centre (MeRC), the Faculty of Information Technology and Monash Abroad. It is modeled on the successful PRIME  program.

For news about what was offered in 2008 and 2009, see IT Undergrads Embark on Research Visit to UCSD  and

Australian Students Present Cyberinfrastructure Research Via Tri-Continental High-Def Teleconference 
Award to MURPA  The MURPA program is the recipient of the 2010 Innovations in Networking Award in the category of High Performance Research Applications from CENIC. Specifically, the Award is for the project "Enhancing Student Exchange Experiences with High Definition Video Conference". The award has been made by the organizing committee for the CENIC 2010 conference, Full Speed Ahead. CENIC is the Corporation for Education network Initiatives in California.