The Chilean National University Network (REUNA), in partnership with EDUTIC, will host TICAL2015. A reference among the Latin American academic networks and one of the oldest among them, REUNA in recent years has demonstrated that has reached its maturity and that is ready to face all the necessary challenges in order to ensure the development of Science, Education, Innovation and collaborative research in Chile. We talked about this moment and also about her expectations about TICAL2015 with Paola Arellano, Executive Director of REUNA.
Since the first edition of TICAL, in 2011, in Panama City, to the last, held in Cancún, in 2014, 59 Chilean have attended the conference, three presented their papers in the position of authors and one was a member of the Program Committee. In 2015, being the Chileans the "owners of the house," two Directors of Information Technologies from two different Chilean universities are members of this Committee. Looking at these numbers and considering the experience of REUNA in the different editions of TICAL, why did you decide to host the Conference this year?
From the point of view of ICT management, the universities are very complex systems, not only because of the cases it should uphold, but also in the complexity of its members: students that are highly demanding, for example of mobile technologies; researchers who require complex storage, processing, and modeling systems, among others; and authorities that need to count on reliable, relevant and timely information to take important decisions for their institutions sake. The ICT today are not a "stone guest" in the university management, but are essential to support the development plan or the strategic plan outlined for the university. Therefore, gaining spaces that allow the discussion of these issues, its implementation, successes and failures, projections and trends, is essential. Chile can’t and should not be missing these forums, and that's why REUNA wanted to be the host of TICAL.
REUNA will host TICAL2015 alongside with EDUTIC. How and why this alliance was established?
The link between EDUTIC and REUNA comes from a few years ago, when the corporation was invited to participate in the EDUTIC2012 seminar. Now we are working together again, because in the Chilean academic network we are convinced about the importance of inviting the entire national university system to participate in TICAL2015 and promote the collaboration with its international peers.
In your opinion, what is the real importance of the TICAL Conference on the Latin American context?
The countries of our region share many interests and certainly we’ll have many opportunities if we start to articulate and work together. With only four years of existence, TICAL became an important space, taking care of a latent need of the IT directors of the universities, that is to have spaces where they can discuss about industry issues with their peers, with technology providers, with researchers and with the authorities; I mean, a space to look at the system in all its complexity and richness, and compare themselves, to lean and advance in the search for joint solutions. Undoubtedly, TICAL unites conversations, needs and interests of a region that enriches itself through its diversity.
REUNA is in a rapid growing stage, reaching a remarkable position at local and regional level. In your opinion, what are the bases of this growth?
The growth is based on building a joint initiative with our partners. The management of our recent years was focused on the strengthening of the REUNA bases, that is, on our relationship with partners, alliances and community. It implies the construction of a long-term project, which is based on trust, respect, collaboration and quality. We understood that REUNA is not a group of people working in an office on a street of Santiago, but that is an institution that goes from Arica to Osorno, with presence in 12 of the 15 regions of the country, made up of 30 institutions. We want to reach all the regions and that every institution that works with higher education and research in Chile become part of this collaborative network. This drives us to be in constant change and constant improvement. It is not easy and we still have a long way to go.
How important is for you the collaboration among researchers and the different academic networks in the region and in the world? How do you evaluate the national and international collaboration experience of REUNA?
Collaboration is an indispensable tool for doing science and education today. The image of the researcher alone in the lab with his/hers tools is in the past. Today, the knowledge exchange, the interdisciplinarity and the sharing of resources are part of the researchers daily life. The same happens to the academic networks that were born under the concept of collaboration.Since its inception, REUNA boosted, led or participated in projects that gather the national or international community under one goal. An important part of our digital infrastructure was made possible thanks to the collaboration with several institutions.
Which are the main challenges of REUNA for 2015 and for the next two years?
After 20 years, this corporation has reached the maturity that needs to go for greater goals, being the most transcendent of them the task of implement and make available to the entire higher education system of the country an advanced digital platform with scientific and academic purposes. As it is stated in our Strategic Plan 2014-2017, REUNA will focus its efforts on strengthening the collaboration with researchers, teachers and students through the interdisciplinary work, on projects that leverage the creativity with innovative solutions in order to allow the social, cultural and economic development of people.
Finally, what would you say to the ICT Directors of the Chilean education and research institutions in order to invite them to participate in the TICAL2015?
I recommend you go. Do not lose it! This conference is a great opportunity for the ICT communities of the higher education Chilean institutions to exchange experiences with their peers in the region, know proposals and ICT solutions that will help to improve the management of their Universities. From another point of view, TICAL2015 is also an interesting showcase for the Chilean experiences in ICT; they could be applied in other regions of the continent.