Technology Supports Research Improvements in HBCUs – Technical

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Last summer, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Tech’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) a $995,500 grant to work with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Atlanta and Alabama. to improve computing and network connectivity for several institutions.

These upgrades aim to benefit the research capabilities of these institutions through cross-institutional tools and database sharing, stronger cloud connection, and faster computing, among other benefits.

The Principal Investigator (PI) of the grant proposal was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the ILO, Cas D’Angelo, who is very enthusiastic about this project, saying that “it has been a personal mission for this to happen.”

Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), Spelman College, Tuskegee University and the Robert W. Woodruff Library were all included in the initial proposal submitted by the ILO.

Morehouse College, separate from MSM, was added to the list of grant recipients in a later supplemental award.

With the exception of Tuskegee University, all of these entities belong to a historic and contiguous consortium of African-American institutions of higher education in Southwest Atlanta called the Atlanta University Center (AUC) Consortium.

D’Angelo cites several benefits that come from connecting these institutions on the same high-speed network, noting “it can be connecting to an instrument on another campus – so there are all kinds of scientific instruments that are on the network. This might be accessing a data store that is on another network. Maybe it’s to calculate [computational resources] it’s on another network.

The benefits of these resources don’t just target researchers — science-based learning outcomes are also a target for these enhanced resources.

In addition to D’Angelo serving as PI for the project, each of the institutions has a designated co-PI: Charles Cooper of Clark Atlanta University, Reggie Brinson of MSM, John Wilson of Spelman College, and Abraham George of Tuskegee University. . Greg Pride is the concerned staff at the Woodruff Library.

Each of these institutional leaders brings their own staff to the project. Additionally, for the project grant proposal, each participating institution was also required to contribute at least one “Science Engine”, a designated researcher or educator working in science and able to describe specific ways in which their work could be enhanced by network upgrades. offered in the grant.

D’Angelo estimates that “on the order of 10 science engines have been registered as part of the project”, and added “there were more that we just didn’t have room for”.

The project leads intend to review all noted science engines, whether or not included in the proposal, and follow up with them if their work has measurably benefited from the upgraded network capabilities.

Southern Crossroads, or SoX, is a technology-associated network infrastructure engine for the Southeastern United States, and cites its current network-supported participants to be about 20 higher education institutions and a half a dozen other organizations, including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). SoX is the main private facilitator of this newly funded project.

Describing SoX in detail, D’Angelo said that “Southern Light Rail is the company, and SoX, or Southern Crossroads, is the project”, and that, “for all intents and purposes, Southern Crossroads is the majority of what Southern Light Rail does, and Southern Light Rail is an affiliate of Georgia Tech.

D’Angelo, in addition to his position with the ILO, is also the current chairman of Southern Light Rail. The project is on a two-year completion schedule.

“There’s an annual report that’s due to NSF each year of the project, and then there’s a final report when we close it,” D’Angelo said.

“The award for the fiber infrastructure is going to be managed by Georgia Tech, as it benefits several different universities,” D’Aneglo said.

For equipment going to the campuses themselves, “funding goes to co-PIs for the price,” D’Angelo said, referring to previously named individuals at the four schools originally included in the proposal, with the library Woodruff. and Morehouse College being
allocated differently.

“Due to some limitations imposed by the NSF on the number of sub-recipients we can have, we only had to put the equipment for this on the Georgia Tech award, but the equipment will be installed on their campuses and will work to their advantage,” D said Angelo.

Speaking of the member institutions of the AUC Consortium, D’Angelo said, “I have been trying for a long time to find a way to connect them to this network, so it is one of my personal missions to make this happen. I’m excited about this.

You can find more information about this initiative at gtri.gatech.edu/hbcu.

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