Jackson, MS -- A group of students at Jackson State University (JSU) in Jackson, Miss., are taking a computer science class taught by the faculty of Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y., via the Internet. The Department of Defense (DoD) is utilizing this testbed to produce new distance learning solutions for geographically distributed laboratory personnel. According to Professor Willie Brown, chair of the Jackson State University Department of Computer Science, which resides in the School of Science and Technology, "This project represents a tremendous opportunity for the computer science faculty and students at Jackson State. It is a precursor to the 'virtual university,' which will leverage the faculties of many institutions and extend educational opportunities to students throughout DoD and the nation." This is the first full-semester course to be taught for credit as part of a distance education partnership involving the Computer Science Department of JSU, the Northeast Parallel Architectures Center (NPAC) at Syracuse University, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station (CEWES) in Vicksburg, Miss., and Nichols Research Corp. under the sponsorship of the Department of Defense High Performance Computing Modernization (HPCM) Program. N. Radhakrishnan, director of the Information Technology Laboratory at CEWES, said, "We consider this activity to be of primary importance in achieving our goal of minimizing the 'importance of place' for our Department of Defense research and development community. CEWES is fortunate to have Syracuse and Jackson State conducting this demonstration project. We look forward to rapidly leveraging these capabilities for the benefit of our HPC users." The project, employing technology developed by NPAC researchers for collaboration and education delivery over the Internet, is piloting economical means of delivering advanced scientific courses often found at large research universities to the DoD HPC user community. Distance education is not a new idea, but the Syracuse-Jackson State effort is unique as it uses newly emergent technologies, including hypertext markup language (HTML) and Java, to provide a robust teaching environment capable of two-way audio and video, a "whiteboard" that is broadcast to the desktop, and a mechanism for "projecting" viewfoils on each student's computer screen. In the near future, the same technology will be used to provide geographically dispersed researchers working for the Department of Defense, or other large government or commercial organizations with similar access to advanced educational opportunities without the expense and disruption of travel and extended time away from work.