Ohio's third frontier network marks second year with interactive digital technologies showcase


Southern Ohio becoming hotbed for interactive digital technologies driving 21st century education, careers, industries

Portsmouth, Ohio At a second annual "Ohio Lights the Way" event, education and technology officials Thursday (Oct. 13, 2005) will showcase the role of Ohio's Third Frontier Network the nation's leading high-speed, superscale research network in the development of the state's interactive digital technologies industry.

In concert with Shawnee State University's Shawnee 3.0 conference on interactive digital technologies (IDT), the Third Frontier Network (TFN) event will feature demonstrations of virtual reality, video gaming, animation and other related IDT fields. In recent years, Ohio has become a hotbed of serious and entertainment gaming education and development.

"The Third Frontier Network enables Ohio's colleges and universities to leapfrog others in the collaboration that is required to compete successfully in a flat world," said Roderick G. W. Chu, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents. "In a global economy where India and China are producing college graduates in key fields at a rate 5- to 10- times that of the U.S., strong collaboration and efficient use of resources especially through technological advancements such as the TFN is absolutely necessary."

With the TFN's massive advantage in network capacity and statewide reach, Ohio has developed an unequaled research infrastructure to develop new IDT, animation and computer-assisted design applications for security, education and commercial interests.

The TFN was deployed in 2004 by OARnet, OSC's networking division. The network's 1,600-mile backbone connects more than 100 of the state's campuses, their business partners, federal labs, hospitals and K-12 schools. Nearly all of Ohio's colleges and universities are using the TFN fiber-optic backbone, with more than 30 higher education institutions having direct access via last-mile connections.

The technology that enables Playstations, iPods and Webcams is the same technology that powers high-tech surgical training applications and military systems. The explosive growth of the technology-driven education industry is creating many new high-paying jobs the average starting salary for college graduates in related fields is $50,000/year in communities with historically low wages.

The network also is connected to Internet 2, a national high-performance backbone network for advanced networking application development.

"The Third Frontier Network acts as a great equalizer, especially so in a state like Ohio where most research and business is carried on a regional basis," said Dr. Stanley Ahalt, executive director of OSC. "Faculty members at small colleges in rural and Appalachian Ohio have the same access to resources and collaborators as their colleagues at larger research institutions. The reach of the TFN will enable IDT developers in SE Ohio and around the state to compete with researchers in the Silicon Valley and the Northeast."

Researchers and professors from Shawnee State University, Washington State Community College, Ohio University, Kent State University, Bowling Green State University, Wright State University, and The Ohio State University will participate in a fully interactive, real-time, statewide demonstration of these emerging technologies live over the TFN.

Keynote speaker Mike Zyda, of the University of Southern California Gamepipe Laboratory, will discuss the national importance and relevance of serious gaming to the U.S. He also will discuss how a high-speed network infrastructure can benefit Ohio as networking becomes more important in development of an IDT technologies and other research and development industry.

The event also will mark an announcement of the TFN Awards for Innovative Research Collaborations involving academic/industry teams and state leadership in networking. An award for Ohio's top networking technology leader is expected for next year's event.

The event is being held in conjunction with Shawnee State University's Shawnee 3.0 IDT Conference set for Oct. 14. The Shawnee conference is sponsored by the Ohio Valley Interactive Digital Technology Alliance. Participating institutions and their network collaborators will illustrate the impact of these new technologies on teaching, learning and business in southern Ohio and throughout the state, as well as the video gaming industries, medical schools, national defense and a host of other areas.

Shawnee State is a leader in the U.S. for training future video game developers, with two four-year degree programs in IDT with a bachelor's degree program in Game and Simulation Development Arts that focuses on 3-D graphics and another in Digital Simulation and Gaming Engineering Technology, which concentrates on programming and artificial intelligence.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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