Texas universities expanding new information network

10/12/04

UH priorities in $9.8 million initiative include collaboration, sharing infrastructures, organizing

HOUSTON, Oct. 12, 2004 The University of Houston is joining a fast new research network in Texas that will make the ubiquitous fact-finding capabilities of the Internet seem like wrestling with microfiche.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst recently announced the approval of $9.8 million in funding to build the high-speed Lonestar Education And Research Network (LEARN) for Texas higher education institutions, and to construct the Texas Internet Grid for Research and Education (TIGRE) to enable these institutions to access and share resources, collaborate on research, and facilitate online teaching and remote learning. This initiative will help Texas universities and industrial partners work together, as well as magnify their capabilities and the impact of their collective research expertise, as similar initiatives in many other states have done.

"This will not only enhance the opportunity for students at Texas educational institutions to be part of the emerging world of worldwide collaborations, but also allow them to participate in leading-edge research using state, national and global resources and information infrastructures that form the basis for a significant and rapidly growing part of the economy," said Lennart Johnsson, Cullen Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Texas Learning and Computation Center at the University of Houston. "In Houston, we are already in the process of establishing a metropolitan high-speed network connecting UH, Rice University and institutions in the Texas Medical Center to the LEARN network and the National Lambda Rail."

"The collaboration between the higher education institutions in Houston and around the state has been phenomenal," said Chuck Shomper, chief information officer for the University of Houston, chair of the South East Texas GigaPOP and a member of the LEARN Board of Directors.

The LEARN consortium includes more than 30 universities and medical research institutions in Texas, linking them at much higher speeds than current networks to permit researchers to share very large data sets, as well as collaborate in real time. TIGRE will use grid computing software technologies to connect the Texas institutions on LEARN, as well as enable each institution to share its own resources. Computing, visualization, storage systems, data collections, databases, large-scale scientific instruments and sensor networks will all be available and linked by TIGRE over LEARN.

TIGRE access to the state's rich set of distributed resources will enable Texas researchers, educators and industrial partners to address the most challenging and important problems in areas such as biomedical research, environmental modeling, petroleum engineering and computer science. TIGRE will be constructed during the course of two years by five institutions in the High Performance Computing Across Texas (HiPCAT) consortium of Rice University, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, the University of Houston and The University of Texas at Austin.

"This opportunity to provide state-of-the-art infrastructure through information technology will enhance the collaborations worldwide for research programs," said Arthur Vailas, vice president for research at UH. "This type of fast, comprehensive network at our fingertips will certainly foster new affiliations and expand upon existing joint partnerships internationally across industries and within the academic and medical fields."

Source: Eurekalert & others

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