Julie Albright

Lecturer, University of Southern California

Education Executive Sponsor (#IMeducation)

We are living in extraordinary times: Business as we know it has been disrupted around the globe. Work continuity is being maintained online via Zoom, Skype and other programs. It is a watershed moment for the data center industry, whose workers bear the brunt of maintaining some semblance of “business as usual.” Many have logged record traffic. Suddenly, resiliency, “up-time,” and greening data centers has become more important than ever before. Yet, who will run the data centers going forward, in the face of a growing talent shortage?

Meet Ms. Parastoo Amin. While looking at cloud computing, big data, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence during the course of her master’s degree in Green IT, Parastoo discovered data centers, the unsung heart of Industrial Revolution 4.0. Parastoo is pursuing a PhD in Business Information Systems at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, where she’s focused on international standards for green data centers. When I asked her what motivated her to do so, she replied, “My main motivation (is) to play a role, even a small one, in slowing down climate change and contributing to environmental sustainability.” Parastoo is the very first PhD-level scholarship recipient at iMasons.

Generating awareness within academia

Unlike Parastoo, many students have no idea this industry even exists: On a hunch, I recently polled my students, asking them if they knew where the cloud lives; their answers (hilariously) ranged from “on little personal internets” to “West Philadelphia.” You can’t blame them for not knowing: For security reasons—most data centers fly under the radar, “hidden in plain sight” as it were—by blending into the scenery as just another Falun red barn in the Swedish countryside, or hunkered down deep within former nuclear bunkers in Norway or Sweden, or disguised behind the unassuming facades of 17th century stone churches in the UK and Spain. 

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