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Global innovation drives new Pace dean

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Amar Gupta
Pace University’s Amar Gupta.

Amar Gupta brings to his new post at Pace University a vision of around-the-clock, globally dispersed workplaces and a zealous goal of collaborative innovation in technology that unites academia, industry and government and crosses traditional campus boundaries between learning disciplines.

Already his vision and his goal are being applied at the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems on Pace campuses in Manhattan and Westchester County.

Gupta, a White Plains resident, arrived last August at Pace as dean of its computer science school from the University of Arizona, where students in the Eller College of Management voted him outstanding faculty member of the year in 2012.

A native of India, the entrepreneurial-minded professor and scientist also has had a 25-year association with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was founding co-director of the Productivity from Information Technology Initiative (PROFIT) at the Sloan School of Management. At MIT’s International Financial Services Research Center, he developed a patented check processing technology that proved to be years ahead of the banking industry’s adoption of online check image processing.

At the start of a new year and the spring semester at Pace, Gupta recently outlined his vision for and his work in emerging innovative applications of information technology to a group of Pace alumni, staff and business leaders in Manhattan. The dean was introduced by Pace University President Stephen J. Friedman, who called Gupta “the right man for the right job at this point in history.”

With his interdisciplinary approach to teaching students to master the use of technology in their respective fields, “I know he is going to have a major impact on the Seidenberg School and in many ways the whole university,” Freidman said.

At Arizona and MIT, Gupta developed what he calls the “24-hour knowledge factory,” which involves teams working in eight-hour shifts on three continents to hand off and produce knowledge-based work such as software code. Gupta said he first saw its potential use in the global economy as a consultant to IBM Corp. on a one-year project that involved two IBM software development teams – one working at one location in the U.S. and another split between India and the U.S. As with his three-pronged global concept, the IBM teams were directed by one manager.

“The results were very surprising,” he said. Though the teams filed identical software problem reports, the team distributed between two continents provided “far superior” documentation of problems and completed the work faster, he said.

Gupta said the 24-hour global factory technology will be useful in a number of other knowledge-based industries, including banking and finance, law, health care, education and product design.

With teams working only day shifts before passing off the work to a team in another time zone, health risks linked to graveyard shift work could be avoided, said Gupta, citing recent studies by the World Health Organization and American Cancer Society that linked night work to breast and prostate cancer.

Gupta also sees great opportunity in the use of telecommunications technologies to deliver health care services, especially in medically underserved rural areas. But those technology-driven innovations in health care in the U.S. face significant challenges from doctors protecting their traditional practices, states’ physician licensing regulations when dispensing prescriptions online and the costs and legal risks of navigating state privacy laws that restrict the dissemination of patient health records.

“One of the biggest impediments to telemedicine is the absence of a single national electronic health record,” Gupta said. “It’s not wise to have information on computers that don’t speak to each other.”

“I frankly believe telehealth and telemedicine will be the next trillion-dollar industry and we are missing an opportunity to do it.”

“The more impediments we put in innovation, the more we are allowing others to compete with us” in the global economy.

At Pace, Gupta said he wants to start “a dialogue with industries to see what kind of students we should be producing to be more useful to the market” in areas such as telemedicine, cybersecurity, finance and insurance.

Applying new technologies developed and taught at the Seidenberg school, “We want to work with real-life companies on real-life problems,” he said.

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