“The Internet of Things is not a Field in Itself” Students Learn

Over the last three years, Dell and Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College have established a close relationship. We have worked with MBA students and faculty on several complex research projects to help inform our strategy for social analytics and for Industrial Internet of Things verticals. We have collaborated with faculty members on leadership training workshops, co-hosted an Internet of Things idea exchange at SXSW Interactive and co-created content during internal and external events, including Dell World. This summer, the idea to sponsor student activity at the Heinz College matured and the first Internet of Things student club at CMU was born. Two club representatives and one faculty member made the trip to Austin and recount their experience below.


carnegie mellon students at Dell World IoT event

Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University is the home of the Information Systems Management School, where students from all over the world get some of the highest-ranked education on IT and Data Analytics. This summer, six Heinz graduate students (us and other colleagues) got together around the idea of starting a club focused on the Internet of Things (IoT). Though we were literally spread across the globe (California, Massachusetts, Tokyo and Marshall Islands), our interest in the field drove us to keep moving forward with our idea. Sponsored by Bryan Jones, SVP of North America Field Marketing and very well represented by Konstanze Alex and Havilah Tower-Perkins, and Heinz College, through the help of Professor Ari Lightman, were our enablers to make this dream – the first ever IoT club at Carnegie Mellon University – a reality.

The motto of our club is “to enrich learning experience of Heinz students by providing educational and career-oriented opportunities focusing on the Internet of Things and connected Systems.” After a successful launch of the club, we were able to get 100+ members and run some hands-on workshops and information sessions. By doing this, we are creating a platform where people with a background in technology, an interest in data, and an on-going training on business are being exposed to this new trend, and thinking about its application in different scenarios.

With IoT being a buzz word that lacks a solid definition until now, we were eager to know the real world industry around it. And there are few places as good as Dell World that can serve as an eye-opener to the field’s many possibilities. With support from Dell, we (Rohit Bandi and Matias Quintana, technology directors of the IoT club) were able to make it to the silicon hills of Austin.

From industrial operations to agriculture and fishing, Dell’s gateway provides high powered computing and analytics based on the inputs of a sensor network. We met most of the IoT partners and got to know of the many interesting projects made possible by this product.

university students at Dell World IoT event

Our biggest realization from this experience was to learn and appreciate how the Internet of Things is not a field in itself, but a set of optimized solutions that are designed based on the particular issue at hand. All the companies we met were innovating tailored products to their clients rather than relying on a unified solution. One that we particularly liked was solar energy performance monitoring, which uses Dell’s Edge gateway to control energy production in photovoltaic power plants in order to optimize performance. This is one of the demos we’re sharing with the club members, and we’re thinking of ways to incorporate some of the technical elements for our workshop. Furthermore, we are very excited for having created this connection with Dell, as we know the company is heading in a great direction IoT-wise, creating the right alliances (including the recent Dell – EMC merger) and offering the right products and services that will enable businesses with the right tools to provide IoT solutions.

We are grateful to Konstanze Alex at whose invitation we were able to attend the Social Compass breakfast. We got to interact with Andy Rhodes who heads Dell’s IoT commercial Solutions division. It was a great opportunity to get a glimpse of Dell’s vision and strategy towards revolutionizing the Internet of Things. Later that day, we attended a hands-on session by Brent Hodges and Raja Tamilarasan and got to know of the exciting things they were working on at their Santa Clara IoT Lab.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to Jason Lee, from the Dell sales team in Pittsburgh, and Annette Perry for facilitating our illuminating trip and inviting us to a yummy dinner at Bob Steak and Chop house. It was an enjoyable ending to what had been a wonderful learning experience.


Matias Quintana Rosales, Graduate Teaching Assistant for Database Management at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College Rohit Bandi, Graduate Student in Information Systems Management at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College

About the Author: Konstanze Alex