Plenary Speakers

The e-Learning Conference will feature plenary sessions by some of the world’s leading thinkers and innovators in the field, as well as numerous parallel presentations by researchers and practitioners. This year's plenary speakers include:


Satya V. Nitta

Dr. Satya V. Nitta is currently the Program Leader of the Cognitive Learning Content research group at IBM’s T J Watson Research Center where he is developing cognitive computing based next generation adaptive learning technologies. Previously, he spent a year as Technical Advisor to the office of the Vice President of Science and Technology for IBM Research Worldwide where he helped set the strategy for IBM’s technology and systems roadmaps. As manager and technical leader of the Advanced Interconnect Technology area at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY he led large teams of scientists and engineers which invented and defined several generations of IBM’s chip technologies ranging from the 65nm node to the 7nm node. He has also participated as an author and lead scientist on IBM’s Global Technology Outlook, which forecasts the major emerging trends in the computing industry.

Dr. Nitta received a PhD from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Chemical Engineering in 1998 and has been at IBM since 1999 during which time he has served as a technologist and a technical leader of teams which developed several new aspects of on-chip interconnect technology. His work on using self assembly to create air gap based interconnects received worldwide press coverage in 2007. He was named as the IEEE ACE  “Innovator of the Year” in 2008 and also won an IEEE Spectrum Ace Award for “Technology of the Year” in 2008. His invention and work on airgap interconnects also featured as a winner and on the cover of IEEE Spectrum magazine in 2008.

Dr. Nitta serves as one of IBM’s technical liaisons to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he is a member of the Industrial Advisory boards for the Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center as well as the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department. He has authored or co-authored over 25 publications, one book chapter, and currently holds over 75 US patents with over 40 patent applications pending at the USPTO. His current interests include cognitive computing, cognitive theories of learning, digitization of education, nanoelectronics, and alternative energy technologies.


Kevin Franklin

Kevin D. Franklin received degrees in Psychology and Education from Old Dominion University. He holds a Doctorate of Education in Organization and Leadership from the University of San Francisco. Formerly Executive Director of the University of California System-wide Humanities Research Institute and Deputy Director of the University of California San Diego, Supercomputer Center (SDSC), Franklin was appointed Executive Director of the Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts and Social Science, and Senior Research Scientist for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) for the University of Illinois in July of 2007.

Franklin is a principal co-founder of the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC) and the Organization of American States Advanced Research and Technology Collaboratory for the Americas (OAS-ARTCA). He holds academic appointments in the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership and the Department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois. In 2010 HPCwire named Franklin one of the top "People to Watch in Supercomputing."


Jim C. Spohrer

Dr. James (“Jim”) C. Spohrer is Director IBM Global University Programs and leads IBM’s Cognitive Systems Institute. The Cognitive Systems Institute works to align cognitive systems researchers in academics, government, and industry globally to improve productivity and creativity of problem-solving professionals, transforming learning, discovery, and sustainable development.  IBM University Programs works to align IBM and universities globally for innovation amplification and T-shaped skills.   Jim co-founded IBM’s first Service Research group, ISSIP Service Science community, and was founding CTO of IBM’s Venture Capital Relations Group in Silicon Valley.  He was awarded Apple Computers’ Distinguished Engineer Scientist and Technology title for his work on next generation learning platforms.  Jim has a Yale PhD in Computer Science/Artificial Intelligence and MIT BS in Physics. His research priorities include service science, cognitive systems for smart holistic service systems, especially universities and cities. With over ninety publications and nine patents, he is also a PICMET Fellow and a winner of the S-D Logic award.