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Research and Innovation

Myaamia Center, IT Services win 2023 CIO 100 Award

The collaborative work will bring the knowledge and tools necessary for successful language revitalization to more Native peoples in the U.S. and beyond

Research and Innovation

Myaamia Center, IT Services win 2023 CIO 100 Award

The Myaamia Center, with support from Miami University’s IT Services, has received a national CIO 100 Award for using innovative ways to deliver the National Breath of Life: Capacity Building for Community Language Archivists Apprenticeship Program.

The annual CIO 100 Awards celebrate 100 organizations and their teams that are using IT in innovative ways to deliver business value, whether by creating competitive advantage, optimizing business processes, enabling growth, or improving relationships with customers. This is the second straight year Miami has been recognized.

The Miami team included:

  • Doug Troy, coordinator of application development at the Myaamia Center and the National Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages.
  • Myaamia Center graduate student developers.
  • Jerome Viles, a development trainer for National Breath of Life.
  • Dirk Tepe ’92, director of application architecture and operations in IT Services.

A collaborative effort

National Breath of Life is housed within the Myaamia Center on Miami’s Oxford campus and is dedicated to supporting partner communities in the training and development of community curated language archives for revitalization. It is co-directed by Daryl Baldwin, executive director of the Myaamia Center, and Gabriela Pérez Báez, associate professor of linguistics at the University of Oregon.

Since 2011, National BoL has provided training and support to 141 language revitalization practitioners representing more than 65 Indigenous languages in North America.

“Within our emerging field of Indigenous language revitalization, we are often forced to develop our own approaches and create the ‘tools of our trade’ in order to respond to the unique situations we are presented when working with our communities,” Baldwin said. “ILDA (Indigenous Languages Digital Archive) is an example of a creative solution that supports the use of archival language materials that directly respond to revitalization needs. Communities are in need of support and this award will hopefully continue to raise awareness.”

In 2021, the center was awarded a $510,000 Andrew W. Melon Foundation grant to support National Breath of Life and its work with endangered language communities to build capacity around methods in archives-based research for community-directed revitalization efforts.

Last September, Baldwin testified in a virtual congressional briefing about the importance of National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) funding in helping preserve and revitalize endangered Indigenous American languages. National Breath of Life was awarded a $349,442 NEH grant in 2021.

CEC master’s students work as graduate assistants

Tepe helped the Myaamia Center adopt development and deployment processes similar to those used by IT Services.

"Using the same tools for software development means IT Services can easily support the center with minimal additional effort. Almost all of the center's challenges were first encountered and resolved for IT Services’ own applications,” Tepe said, adding that the graduate students working for the center are in control of their own development, which includes releasing new versions of their applications.

Troy said the Myaamia Center’s software development team is made up of master’s students from the College of Engineering and Computing (CEC) who work as graduate assistants for two years.

“Because our developers are with us for only two years, they need to become technically proficient and productive quickly in order to support and enhance our software suite. The support provided by Dirk Tepe and IT Services makes this possible by providing a reliable, state-of-the-art development platform and serving in a consulting role,” Troy said.

The award application noted the Myaamia Center's creation of the Capacity Building for Community Language Archivists Program is intended to advance what has been developing since the mid 1990s, and it will bring the knowledge and tools necessary for successful language revitalization to more Native peoples in the U.S. and potentially the world.

“This program necessitated the creation of innovative tools to manage the effort. With no additional staff, a unique problem domain and unknown administrative requirements, the center needed a solution that was cost effective yet could grow to support more communities,” the application stated. “The existing partnership with Miami's College of Engineering and Computing, as well as the IT Services division, provided a solid foundation on which to build. CEC students built the required software, IT Services provided the deployment process and infrastructure, and the Center was able to successfully launch the new program.”

Last year, Miami’s IT Services and partners received a CIO 100 Award for their efforts to improve contact tracing methods used throughout the pandemic by Oxford Butler County health officials.