Three Ohio Schools Receive $400K Grant for Early Connection to Third Frontier Network

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Three Ohio universities have received a $400,000 combined grant from the Ohio Board of Regents Action Fund and the National Science Foundation (NSF) for early connection to the state’s OSCnet. OSCnet is a high-speed fiber optic network designed by the networking division of the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC). OSCnet will link Ohio's universities, colleges, K-12 schools, and research centers to promote education, research and economic development opportunities.

The grant includes $200,000 each from the Ohio Board of Regents and NSF. It will give Central State University, Cedarville University, and Wilberforce University new high performance network connections (HPNC) to accommodate growth and allow them to benefit from high-performance networking and computing. Central State is leading the HPNC project management and collaboration among the three schools.

“This project will allow Central State University to push the computer networking envelope to the limit in support of the academic research community, while enabling the transfer of cutting-edge technology to the commercial world,” said Colette Pierce Burnette, Associate Vice President and CIO for Central State. “The increased capabilities will provide all majors with the type of access required for them to be users and developers of next generation Internet technologies in their respective areas,” she added.

The higher bandwidth will greatly improve Internet collaborations in teaching and research, especially in cluster and grid computing, operating systems, distributed system structures, file systems and security, network measurement tools, and authentication. OSC staff will collaborate with faculty, researchers and students from these institutions to gather and analyze project data.

“Before the plan to implement the NSF high bandwidth connection, we could not give our students the practical experience of developing and implementing solutions to complex parallel and grid computing problems,” said Sam Carter, Vice President for Information Technology at Wilberforce University. “Now we will be able to do so in the expanded learning community of Cedarville, Central State and Wilberforce Universities.”

The grant will provide these institutions with funding for the last-mile connection to OSCnet, as well as the equipment to light the fiber with a one gigabit per second high-speed end-to-end connection to each campus. This is up to 50 times faster than the transfer rates available on these campuses today.

"This project creates a unique opportunity for instruction and research that is not often available at institutions of this size,” said Steve Gordon, Deputy Director of OSC. “It will allow faculty and students to participate in cutting edge networking and grid computing research."

Plans call for students to take computer and information science courses in which OSC experts will participate via videoconferencing. Students who complete the basic courses will also be eligible to play an active role in creating grid computing and networking experiments made possible by the grant. Students in arts/animation, communications, biology, and other disciplines will be able to complete a variety of analytical and communications tasks with the advanced network. These students could be eligible for internships at OSC.

Working groups from OSC and the three schools will determine faculty and student needs for network services and related applications. The working groups will also examine opportunities for shared, complimentary distance-learning courses across multiple campuses. Each institution will gain additional faculty expertise by sharing learning materials, instructors, and classes.

End-to-end performance will be critical to utilizing these systems as a computational grid. Network measurement instruments will also be installed at each grid-computing node to provide additional network measurement tools.

David Rotman, Director of Computer Services for Cedarville University, said his school’s faculty is excited about this project because it provides a good combination of technical capabilities and interaction with colleagues from Wilberforce and Central State.

“The technical advances will facilitate upper-level instruction and research, while the professional interaction will help our faculty members further develop their own expertise,” Rotman said. “The student and faculty interaction from the three institutions will help produce better qualified graduates. These graduates will become a source of employment for high-technology companies in the Dayton area, especially those companies that work with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” he added.

About Central State University
Central State University is one of Ohio’s fourteen public universities, and the only publicly supported historically black university in the state. Since 1994, Central State has awarded 13 percent of all bachelors' degrees earned in Ohio by African Americans attending public universities.

As Ohio's only public historically black university, Central State has graduated generations of leaders in the fields of education, business, science, fine and performing arts and law. Central State is poised to enter its third century of achievement with the theme and goal, "Excellence in the New Millennium." More information is available at www.centralstate.edu.

About Cedarville University
Cedarville University is a Baptist arts and sciences institution established in 1887. Nearly 3,000 students are enrolled, and more than 100 fields of study are available. Cedarville University is a four-year, degree-granting institution chartered by the State of Ohio and certified by the Ohio Board of Regents. It ranks in the Top Ten Midwest College Buys according to U.S. News & World Report. See www.cedarville.edu for more information.

About Wilberforce University
Founded in 1856, Wilberforce University is the nation's oldest private, historically black university and the first institution of higher education owned and operated by African Americans. Today, Wilberforce University continues to build on its sacred tradition as a four-year, fully accredited liberal arts institution. More recently, the university has procured a $1 million grant to develop a new academic program focusing on computer science and engineering, and a $1.3 million grant from NASA in 1992 to establish what is now an onsite teaching collaboration and research center. More information is available at www.wilberforce.edu.

About OSC
OSC is Ohio's high performance computing and networking center. Established in 1987 by the Ohio Board of Regents, the Center provides scientific computing, networking, educational outreach, and information technology resources to state and national high performance computing and networking groups. OSC empowers its academic, industrial, and government partners to make Ohio the education and technology state of the future. For more information, go to www.osc.edu.