Elite computer club accepts University of Wyoming

2012-02-07T23:45:00Z 2012-02-08T00:00:17Z Elite computer club accepts University of WyomingBy JEREMY PELZER Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette
February 07, 2012 11:45 pm  • 

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The University of Wyoming has been accepted into a prestigious computer research organization, opening doors to research partnerships, federal funding and even the ear of the White House and Capitol Hill.

Last month, UW was accepted as the newest member of the Coalition for Academic Scientific Computation, a group of 69 universities and computing centers around the country devoted to accelerating scientific discoveries for use in national security and economic development.

“It’s a who’s-who of those conducting computational research,” said Tim Kuhfuss, UW’s director of research support for information technology, in a media release. “To be invited is an honor. The University of Wyoming will benefit big time.”

In addition to an increased reputation and better ability to snag federal grants and form partnerships with other prominent schools, the university also has access to information from other CASC member schools, according to the release.

Already, UW said it has received advice from such schools as Princeton and Cornell through CASC about establishing a 500-square-foot advanced computing center in UW’s IT Building that will provide additional access to the new National Center for Atmospheric Research supercomputing center being built in Cheyenne.

UW will also be able to give out information as well, Kuhfuss said.

“It’s a good opportunity to tell the federal government our ideas and thoughts. It’s also an opportunity for them to discuss where they see us going,” said Kuhfuss, who pushed to get UW in the organization shortly after he arrived at the university from Chicago six months ago. “The university will receive access and updates from agencies, (research) partners and potential competitors.”

UW was accepted into CASC in part because of its partnership with NCAR to build the supercomputing center, according to the release. In exchange for paying $1 million annually for the next 20 years for computer upgrades, UW will have access to 20 percent of the new supercomputer’s operations. UW’s strong core of programs in the computational sciences also played a role, the release stated.

It also didn’t hurt that UW is located in the West, where the organization has fewer members, Kuhfuss said in the release.

Since landing the NCAR supercomputer in 2007, UW has seen an immediate boost to its computer infrastructure.

In Ross Hall, a student residence, the university recently opened its first computer laboratory to use the UNIX computer operating system. It’s the same operating system that will be used by the National Center for Atmospheric Research for its supercomputing facility currently under construction in Cheyenne.

In addition, UW and NCAR have begun this semester to offer workshops in high-performance computing and researching, showing students how to go about using what’s expected to be a one petaflop supercomputer. A petaflop is equal to one quadrillion — 1,000,000,000,000,000 — computer operations per second.

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