UNH's InterOperability Lab Celebrates 25th Anniversary Sept. 16

UNH's InterOperability Lab Celebrates 25th Anniversary Sept. 16

Tuesday, September 03, 2013
Erica Johnson, director of the UNH InterOperability Laboratory

Erica Johnson, director of the UNH InterOperability Laboratory, which celebrates its 25th anniversary with an open house Monday, Sept. 16. Photo: Mike Ross, Photographic Services.

UNH’s InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) celebrates 25 years as a premier independent test site for new technologies and a unique training ground for future engineers with an open house Monday, Sept. 16. The celebration, from 2 – 6 p.m. at the UNH-IOL’s facility on Technology Drive in Durham, is open to all and will feature interactive demonstrations, tours, remarks, and networking with industry leaders, UNH-IOL alumni, and current students. 

Dave Kjendal, senior vice president of engineering at Enterasys Networks, is the keynote speaker. President Mark W. Huddleston; Joe McEachern, CEO and founder at QA Café; Amy Davies, a UNH computer science student and IOL employee; and Erica Johnson, UNH-IOL director, will offer remarks. 

Tours and demonstrations will be offered.  Register here

“Our work here is always exciting, but we’re really thrilled to share what we do with the broader UNH and New Hampshire community,” Johnson says. “This open house will introduce our services and the incredible student employees who make them happen – well known in the technology industry – to a broader audience.” 

Since its founding in 1988, the UNH-IOL has provided independent, neutral, confidential testing of new technology for interoperability – how systems work together to share data – for hundreds of member companies. “Interoperability is like giving your friend a high-five,” Johnson says. “There’s an unwritten rule that you’re both going to put out your hand. Interoperability is what ensures one of you doesn’t stick your foot out instead.” 

With a strong reputation for independent, vendor-neutral testing and quality assurance, the laboratory’s test reports are recognized throughout the industry as a “seal of approval” for interoperability and conformance to technical standards. 

The UNH-IOL is also the only test lab of its type in the world that balances industry expertise with an educational mission: More than 100 undergraduate and graduate student employees work in the UNH-IOL, gaining hands-on experience with developing technologies from the hundreds of companies who use the UNH-IOL’s services as members. 

“We’re educating the next generation of engineers,” Johnson says. “By the time they graduate, they are experienced in working with many different companies. They’re like seasoned professionals.” 

When the UNH-IOL began in 1988, just 15 percent of U.S. households had a personal computer and the Internet was an exotic entity unknown beyond academia and the military. Launched as a branch of UNH’s Research Computing Center (now Research Computing and Instrumentation) in a small room in Morse Hall, the self-sustaining UNH-IOL now occupies a 32,000 square-foot facility on the edge of campus and employs more than 150 students and full-time staff. Current projects represent a Jetsons-like technological future: testing physical standards for Ethernet ports in automobiles, for instance, or enhancing data communication among home appliances “so you could get notified in your car that you’re running low on milk and pick it up on your way home,” says Johnson. 

What’s remained constant in the past quarter decade, Johnson says, is the UNH-IOL’s two-pronged focus on industry and education. “Everyone here owns our mission of helping industry and educating students. I’m very proud of the fact that over 25 years we have not strayed from that mission,” she says.

Learn more about the InterOperability Laboratory on the Web, Facebook, or Twitter.