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Texas Tech Joins Consortium of Experts Called Cloud and Autonomic Computing Center

Created and funded by National Science Foundation, center provides research, development to businesses.

Written by John Davis

High Performance Computing Center

Texas Tech’s High Performance Computing Center is the third largest in the state.

Researchers at Texas Tech University have joined a consortium of experts called the Cloud and Autonomic Computing Center (CAC) to provide research and development to businesses interested in these computing areas.

Alan Sill, a senior scientist at Texas Tech’s High Performance Computing Center (HPCC) and the CAC site director, said Texas Tech will take on a leadership role in cloud standards and reference implementations within the center, created and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Cloud computing refers to the storing and accessing of data and computational services on the Internet rather than using only a single computer’s hard drive and processor. Autonomic computing systems work automatically, such as anti-spam software that searches incoming email and automatically blocks suspicious ones.

Ravi Vadapalli, research scientist at the HPCC, and Yong Chen, an assistant professor of computer science, serve as associate directors for the Texas Tech site. This team will coordinate industry-oriented work by faculty and industry members. Texas Tech will partner with University of Florida, Rutgers University and Mississippi State University as CAC university sites.

Alan Sill

Sill

“This is industry-funded, industry-oriented research,” Sill said. “The goal of our center is to connect and engage Texas Tech researchers with companies around business-oriented topics of interest in cloud computing and autonomic computing. The businesses access skilled talent here and we provide innovative training opportunities in translational research around those businesses’ fields of interest.”

The CAC is the only center of its kind focusing on cloud and autonomic computing out of the approximately 60 centers funded by the NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers Program. Other centers in this program cover high-technology topics such as robotic surgery, child-injury prevention and specialty sensors.

“As a first of its kind for our university and the National Science Foundation, the Cloud and Autonomic Computing Center at Texas Tech is a great example of industry and academic collaboration,” said Chancellor Kent Hance. “Texas Tech has a wealth of talented researchers who are providing real life solutions, and we are grateful to all of those who made this project a reality.”

Vadapalli, an adjunct professor of petroleum engineering, said researchers want companies to come to the CAC with their problems in computing and information management so that researchers can provide new business development opportunities.

“The CAC identifies innovative industry-research partnerships in emerging areas such as Big Data analytics and helps sustain workforce development opportunities created through these partnerships” said Chen, who also directs Texas Tech’s Data-Intensive Scalable Computing Laboratory.

Ravi Vadapalli

Vadapalli

The center was funded with a five-year $300,000 grant from the NSF to run operations. Companies join the CAC and obtain seats on the center advisory board in exchange for fees starting at $35,000 a year, earning them the ability to select and approve research projects and gain access to brand-new research and university capabilities.

Companies committed to join Texas Tech’s CAC so far include Covenant Health System, StackVelocity, Aerospace Corp., Happy State Bank and the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), the information technology advisory arm to the U.S. government for the Department of Defense.

“We’re going to help our members accelerate adoption of new cloud methods, standards and services,” Sill said. “We’ll find ways to use these technologies to solve real-world problems while managing risk factors such as information security, privacy, compliance and regulation. We’ll use expertise from multiple fields, including basic sciences, engineering, business, health sciences, informatics and law to support the research partnerships we create through the center.”

Center industry members expressed enthusiasm for the new effort.

“Big Data intelligence is revolutionizing the healthcare industry and information technology is playing an unprecedented role in information-centric decision support systems in both clinical, and non-clinical sectors,” said Paul Arrington, Regional Vice President for Strategic Services, Covenant Health System. “We envision our partnership with CAC will help by addressing research, clinical and business challenges in population health, and effective care management of patients across our care continuum and affiliates”

Yong Chen

Chen

StackVelocity already has begun including references to the new CAC center at Texas Tech in its corporate advertising.

“This program will help expand our efforts to apply university research to solving industry problems,” said Jodey C. Arrington, vice chancellor at the Office of Research & Commercialization. “Industry sponsored research is the fastest growing source of research funding at the top twenty five universities in America, which is why these partnerships are so important to Texas Tech and to consumers everywhere.”

The university also is pursuing another NSF center through the Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers program to focus on wind storm damage mitigation. That center, to be led by Daan Liang, an associate professor in the Department of Construction Engineering & Engineering Technology, has reached the planning stage after official approval from the NSF to proceed.

“This new Cloud and Autonomic Computing Center marks a major milestone in the development of Texas Tech as a major national research university,” said M. Duane Nellis, Texas Tech president. “By offering our researchers’ abilities to prospective paying clients to tackle problems that businesses are currently facing, we not only have the ability to create serious solutions for our clients, but also the marketplace as a whole.”

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Whitacre College of Engineering
The Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering

The Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering has educated engineers to meet the technological needs of Texas, the nation and the world since 1925.

Approximately 4,300 undergraduate and 725 graduate students pursue bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees offered through eight academic departments: civil and environmental, chemical, computer science, electrical and computer, engineering technology, industrial, mechanical and petroleum.

National Science Foundation
National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…"

With an annual budget of about $6.9 billion (FY 2010), they are the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America's colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

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