Grant-Funded Projects Expand Learning and Research Opportunities at Oral Roberts University and Beyond

Oral Roberts University LogoTwo grant-funded projects are expanding learning and research opportunities at Oral Roberts University and building on collaborations to advance research at the Oklahoma State University Biomedical Imaging Center. 

In April 2024, ORU was awarded an $1.45 million grant from the A.R. and Marylouise Tandy Foundation to expand their Computing & Mathematics Department. Enrollment for this department has grown by over 350% in the past decade. 

This grant will help ORU expand and create advanced research spaces, including the Nanotechnology Lab, Plasma Physics Lab, Artificial Intelligence Lab, Game Development Lab, Drone Arena, Edge Computing Lab, and Network Administration Lab. These facilities will create new

 opportunities for students in multiple skill areas, such as: 

  • collaboration 
  • interdisciplinary teamwork 
  • drone operations 
  • artificial intelligence 
  • edge computing
  • game design 
  • game programming 

These labs will be available to undergraduate and graduate students and will offer new academic opportunities through an AI curriculum and degree program of Bachelors of Science in Computer Information Technology – Game Design and Development.  

A group of ORU students smiling with ORU t-shirts in front of a NASA globeHigh-Speed Connectivity

ORU’s high-speed connectivity through OneNet will be key to the success of these expanded programs. 

“High speed-internet connectivity is vital to allow further expansion in all areas of computing. This includes leveraging the recent $1.45 million grant from the A.R. and Marylouise Tandy Foundation this spring,” said Michael Mathews, vice president of Global Learning and Innovation at ORU. “The grant will be used to expand the department and fund summer coding camps that serve community high school students and instructors.” 

Another grant-funded project on the ORU campus is the expansion of the OneOklahoma Friction Free Network. ORU initially connected to OFFN through a National Science Foundation grant in 2019. OFFN supports a variety of research at ORU, including molecular modeling, subatomic physics modeling, computational fluid dynamics, seismic imaging, bioinformatics and molecular spectroscopy. Since 2019, OFFN has expanded to fund research-grade connectivity to 30 higher education locations.  

New Fiber Build

ORU is now providing vital support to OFFN’s ongoing expansion by allowing OneNet to build fiber on its campus to connect the Oklahoma State University – Biomedical Imaging Center to OFFN.  

In 2023, OneNet received a $1,179,147 Campus Cyberinfrastructure (CC*) grant awarded by the National Science Foundation, to connect OSU Biomedical Imaging Center and four other campuses to OFFN. 

The OSU Biomedical Imaging Center at the Hardesty Center for Clinical Research and Neuroscience offers research-grade MRI services in an outpatient clinic setting. The center’s Magnetom Prisma 3 Tesla MRI provides exceptional image quality and shorter scan times, which translate into improved diagnosis and care plans for physicians and their patients. The outpatient diagnostic imaging clinic supports virtually all neurological, musculoskeletal and breast imaging services.  

One project currently underway utilizing the OSU Biomedical Imaging Center, is researching the effects of early stress and trauma leading to the development of evidence-based programs and interventions to address the high rate of adverse childhood experiences within Oklahoma and abroad, in partnership with the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and OSU’s Center for Integrative Research on Childhood Adversity.  

With the new fiber built on ORU’s campus, OSU Biomedical Imaging Center will use OFFN’s high-speed connection to transfer research data related to this project to the supercomputer “Pete” at Oklahoma State University. Right now, researchers must transfer the large datasets to Stillwater at night. They use the supercomputer to perform calculations, then transfer the results back to OSU Biomedical Imaging Center in Tulsa. The new OFFN connection will make the data transfer process faster and more efficient, as well as allow researchers to use the high-speed data capabilities to transfer data to their research partners around the country. 

 “ORU has been a valuable partner in supporting research and education across the state through the OFFN projects,” said Brian Burkhart, OneNet chief technology officer. “Allowing OneNet to build fiber on their campus enables us to add OSU Biomedical Imaging Center to the OFFN project and expand research connectivity across higher education campuses in Oklahoma.” 

Through projects like these, Oklahoma’s research universities and OneNet come together to provide valuable contributions into scientific communities local and nationwide.  

“These partnerships are vital for Oklahomans and people around the world to see that academics across Oklahoma make a significant contribution to the local, state, national, and international economies,” said Mathews. “The research, as well as the graduates produced through the collaborative efforts enhance the talent pool needed to provide for an ever-changing workforce that keeps Oklahoma competitive.” 

Read about the grant award connecting OSU Biomedical Imaging Center to OFFN. 

Photo courtesy of Oral Roberts University

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