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    The Digital Transformation of M.U.S.T.: Boosting Innovation and Building a Smart Campus

Universities must quickly adapt amid rapid changes in technologies and digitalization. New technologies, such as AI, big data, and new energy, are having a profound impact on society. As the sources of new talent, universities need to be ready to use these technologies in their methodologies and services as well as teaching them to students to cultivate competitive talent.

Founded in 2000, Macau University of Science and Technology (M.U.S.T.) is the largest multi-disciplinary university in Macao and is ranked among the world's top 300 universities by Times Higher Education. Currently, the university is home to over 17,000 students.

Last year, M.U.S.T. began the implementation of its latest 2021–2025 Strategic Plan, which focuses on promoting cultural exchange, nurturing intellectual growth, fostering economic development, and furthering societal progress. The plan emphasizes teaching and innovative research, both of which require smart campus operations.

Currently, M.U.S.T. is home to three state-level research platforms and multiple key research institutes and centers. It also houses several modern teaching buildings and labs with world class equipment and facilities where students can learn the latest advances in science and technology.

To deliver the best quality of education, the university needs to upgrade its IT infrastructure, assure safety management, and deploy new applications. It is also working on a centralized platform for research innovation, smart teaching, refined management, and proactive services.

M.U.S.T. began developing its WeMust smart campus application as early as in 2007. In 2021, it forged a strategic partnership with Huawei to build a smart, innovative campus that speeds up the university's digital transformation.

Supercomputing Center: A Digital Innovation Platform for Macao Science 1 and Its Deep-Space Exploration

M.U.S.T. houses the State Key Laboratory of Lunar and Planetary Sciences — China's first such lab. M.U.S.T. is also the first university in the Hong Kong & Macao area to participate in state lunar exploration projects. It has been part of several key projects, including the Shenzhou Program, Chang'e Lunar Program, and Tianwen 1 Mars exploration.

The year 2019 marked the launch of Macao Science 1, Macao's first scientific satellite project. In 2022, M.U.S.T. and the Chinese Academy of Sciences established the Macao Satellite Science and Application Data Center (Data Center) for the project. The Data Center serves as a reliable and innovative platform featuring advanced technologies, high computing power, excellent energy efficiency, and robust security for the country's deep-space exploration.

The Macao Science 1 project works on science’s cutting-edge, including South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA), one of the most important features of the Earth's magnetic field; the nature of the Earth's dynamo mechanism, the evolution of the geomagnetic field, and the influence of the mantle on the core of the Earth.

These studies require the processing and calibration of massive amounts of high-precision data, which beyond the capacity of the university's legacy data center. The lack of information sharing and resource elasticity capabilities also curb M.U.S.T.’s advances in research.

Funded by the state and the Science and Technology Development Fund (FDCT) of Macao, M.U.S.T. teamed up with Huawei to design a full-stack data center that combines virtualization software and ICT hardware (including CPU & GPU servers, distributed storage, and network construction by partition and domain). The result is an integrated solution that delivers lightweight, elastic, high-performance, and high-reliability infrastructure.

Huawei's data center virtualization solution integrates underlying hardware resources, which enables the sharing of computing, storage, and network resource pools and flexible expansion. It also eliminates resource silos and improves the Data Center's ICT infrastructure resource utilization.

The modular architecture supports building-block combos of container and DR functions to meet future expansion needs. In addition, the open architecture supports heterogeneous resource management and smooth interconnection with third-party management platforms, facilitating flexible deployment and modernization of data centers in different scenarios.

The OceanStor mass data storage enables the Data Center to share and store unstructured data. In the future, even as the amount of data generated by the Macao Science 1 project grows exponentially, the Data Center will still be able to stably carry high-performance services.

The AI Fabric solution builds a hyper-converged, intelligent, and lossless data center network using CloudEngine switches unleashing 100% of its computing power without expanding data center.

The network design features level-3 protection, effectively ensuring Data Center security. The intelligent O&M platform supports telemetry-based data collection in milliseconds and AI knowledge graphs. This enables fast fault locating and network construction by partition and domain, facilitating smooth evolution in the future.

Currently, the system delivers 265 TFLOPS CPU computing power, 73 TFLOPS GPU computing power, 1.2 PB storage capacity (expandable to 83 PB), and 5.5 Gbit/s bandwidth. This enables high-concurrency data processing, openness, scalability, security, high reliability, energy conservation, and easy management.

Innovation + Talent: Helping Macao Become a Science and Technology Innovation Center in the Western Greater Bay Area

M.U.S.T. has been cultivating a culture of innovation, particularly through its Faculty of Innovation Engineering and the Kangze-MUST Innovation and Technology Center, a multi-disciplinary innovation platform that integrates various innovation resources.

The e-Lab of the Faculty of Innovation Engineering delivers a seamless network experience to students and teachers, powered by Huawei CloudEngine switches.

The Kangze-MUST Innovation and Technology Center has adopted the leading Wi-Fi 6 continuous networking solution to build an all-wireless office network with high speed, large capacity, and ultra-low latency. The solution centrally manages the main campus, visualizes user experience, and intelligently optimizes Wi-Fi quality. Plus, the reliable intelligent power supply system uses an intelligent temperature control system to ensure data center running in a safe environment.

M.U.S.T. values both teaching and research. It actively promotes collaboration among academia, institutes, and private companies to cultivate well-rounded technical talent. As part of these efforts, the university and PwC Macau established the Macau Cybersecurity Collaboration Centre (MCCC) to promote research in cybersecurity. They also cultivate top industry talent to benefit the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area as well as other regions.

The university has also signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Huawei to establish a Huawei ICT Academy on campus. Together, they have prepared a talent development plan for cloud computing, big data, IoT, and AI skills building to cultivate excellent ICT talent for the Greater Bay Area.

WeMust Smart Campus Platform: Accessing Campus Services Anywhere in the World

M.U.S.T. has always prioritized IT infrastructure. In October 2017, the university unveiled a smart campus development plan. In 2022, it was certified by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), which recognizes the achievements of the university in building the WeMust campus.

WeMust is an integrated smart campus service platform consisting of "one center, nine platforms, and four standard systems". "One center" refers to the university's data center. "Nine service platforms" include basic, office, payment, teaching, research, support, external, third-party, and integration services. Finally, the "four standard systems" cover products, development, O&M, and security.

WeMust streamlines all data, establishes the "one number, one source" rule, and builds a data exchange middle platform. It provides one-stop, universal intelligent applications by associating multiple micro-applications. This assures comprehensive service coverage for the entire university. It also organically connects the physical campus with the digital platform, so that teachers and students can access resources and services from anywhere.

Since users access the campus network from different locations, the university needs a stable network that features high bandwidth, high availability, full service support, and free mobility. For this, M.U.S.T. uses the CloudCampus solution that integrates wired and wireless networks and IoT.

The solution's flexible VxLAN Fabric architecture is compatible with third-party devices. VxLAN Overlay technology is used on the underlay physical network to divide multiple dedicated networks, independently bearing various services for easier live network reconstruction.

In addition, the free mobility feature allows students and teachers to access the network anytime, anywhere with consistent authentication and experience. They only need to authenticate once, even if they access the network from different locations. This solution also supports smooth evolution from 10GE to 40GE and 100GE, growing with the campus for the next 5 to 10 years.

Smart Campus Network: All-Wireless Coverage, Unified Network, and All-Intelligent O&M

Remote learning has become more common since the outbreak of the pandemic. Teachers and students use different devices to connect to the online classroom from various locations. Plus, universities are experimenting with XR and immersive teaching. These new models require a unified smart campus network featuring all-wireless coverage and all-intelligent O&M.

M.U.S.T. has been building its smart campus in several phases, supporting WeMust with high-quality networks with all-wireless coverage and all-intelligent O&M. During the pandemic, students were able to access virtual classrooms through WeMust, minimizing interruptions in learning.

The campus network serves as a solid digital foundation for smart campus construction. Take the new Building R as an example. Its all-scenario wireless coverage brings an unparalleled experience to teachers and students. The integrated teaching building is equipped with a multi-functional hall, movie theater, classrooms, research and teaching labs, studios, faculty offices, and logistics support rooms. Building R is an important space for academic activities, leisure, and administrative affairs, so it's often quite crowded.

M.U.S.T. has deployed the state-of-the-art Wi-Fi 6 solution and AirEngine series high-density indoor APs with smart antennas across the entire building. The small-angle directional antennas accurately control signal coverage, reduce interference, and increase user concurrency to 50%. These prevent issues like frame freezing, delay, and interference during online teaching, live streaming interactions, video sharing, and staff meetings. Both students and teachers can even access the network outside the building with access rates reaching 100 Mbit/s.

In addition to speed and access, intelligent O&M is crucial in campus network operations. For this, M.U.S.T. has deployed iMaster NCE-CampusInsight intelligent O&M platform. The platform uses big data analysis and machine learning algorithms. Its algorithms are always drawing on expert experience to evolve toward intelligent proactive O&M. With functions such as user journey, protocol playback, and application analysis, it implements real-time network status awareness, automatic fault locating within minutes, and real-time visualization of network-wide application experiences. The result is 80% better network-wide performance.

In addition to cloud classrooms, M.U.S.T. also uses the IdeaHub Board in its smart classrooms. The boards create a student-centered environment that integrates online and offline learning. In this way, the university eliminates the restrictions of time and space, and shares high-quality resources for better experience and higher efficiency.

Faster Digitalization, Promoting the Greater Bay Area

Currently, M.U.S.T. is upgrading its entire campus network, which involves building and refurbishing networks in 10 teaching and research buildings. In the future, all campus networks will be centrally managed using iMaster NCE. Plus, the smart campus will encompass safe campus, IOC, IoT, and Wi-Fi services.

M.U.S.T. is always looking to introduce innovative teaching models, increase its efficiency, and improve campus management. It is optimizing its ICT infrastructure using technologies like cloud computing, IoT, and AI. This helps the university maximize data value and business assets, building powerful applications for an integrated smart campus management system. In the coming years, M.U.S.T. will focus on building a smart, safe, and green campus.

Ultimately, the university cultivates talent for Macao and adjacent regions, promoting diverse and sustainable economic development as well as digital transformation.

Author: Zhao Xichen, Director of the M.U.S.T. Information Technology Development Office