Friday Institute’s Ray Zeisz honored with MCNC’s Inaugural Innovation Award

Ray Zeisz, senior director of the Technology Infrastructure Lab at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, was honored with MCNC’s inaugural Innovation Award at the organization’s signature event, MCNC Community Day. The Innovation Award highlights, promotes and celebrates excellence in innovation and collaborative technology-based projects and initiatives that positively impact the MCNC community. 

As the director of the Technology Infrastructure Lab (TIL), Zeisz leads a team that researches, analyzes and builds tools that enable policymakers to make informed decisions about the use of technology in public sector applications. Recent TIL projects include a partnership with the NC Department of Public Instruction to research, pilot and analyze emerging wireless technologies that can reduce the homework gap, particularly in rural areas, and piloting unique solutions for broadband access in Eastern N.C.

“Ray and his team at the Technology Infrastructure Lab do incredible work collaborating across multiple organizations such as K-12 schools, community colleges, universities, nonprofits and the N.C. Department of Information Technology to ensure new technologies best serve our state’s most critical educational needs,” says Hiller Spires, Ph.D., executive director of the Friday Institute and associate dean in the College of Education.

As part of MCNC Community Day, MCNC, the non-profit operator of the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN), hosted more than 200 technology, government and business leaders – virtually and in-person – at the Durham Convention Center on November 9, 2021. The MCNC Community Awards were presented at the end of the event to honor individuals and stakeholders for their outstanding work, dedication and understanding of how technology and broadband can grow educational opportunity, local economies and innovation for all citizens in North Carolina.

“I am honored to be recognized by a group of my peers who share common goals,” Zeisz says. “The TIL has always been a place to explore new ideas in educational technology and we look forward to more collaboration with MCNC and the broader K-20 education community.”

Zeisz joined the Friday Institute in 2012 after a career in the private sector where we worked for companies such as IBM and Juniper Networks.

For more information on the Technology Infrastructure Lab, visit For more information on the Friday Institute, visit For more information on MCNC, visit