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MORe-OFFN Facilitates Ground-Breaking Research at Regional Universities

A National Science Foundation (NSF) grant is helping connect four new institutions into Oklahoma’s current dedicated research network. Providing regional universities with connections to Oklahoma’s Friction Free Network (OFFN) will increase research opportunities for more rural students and researchers across the state.

The Multiple Organization Regional OneOklahoma Friction Free Network (MORe-OFFN) is a new extension of OFFN, a 10 Gbps network ring that leverages OneNet’s existing network to provide research institutions with dedicated internet pathways to facilitate research that requires large data transfer and speed. This network improves research in Oklahoma by bypassing internet highways filled with traditional network traffic.

The MORe-OFFN collaboration began with a desire to expand the availability of OFFN to rural,regional, non-PhD granting universities in Oklahoma. Oklahoma has numerous regional universities that serve a large portion of the state’s students. Providing more researchers and students with access to advanced data transfer channels increases their educational potential and improves education as a whole throughout the state.

Recipients of the NSF grant are Northeastern State University (NSU), Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU), Southeastern Oklahoma State University (SE) and Rogers State University (RSU). All of these institutions serve communities in rural parts of the state with less than 20,000 residents.

MORe-OFFN rectangle map

Dr. Richard Reif, chief information officer for NSU, sees the grant as a way to facilitate greater research collaboration across the state.

“NSU is excited to work with our partners to bring our faculty researchers increased access to the world of high-performance computing,” Reif said. “We are especially grateful for the assistance given to us by OneNet and the members of the OneOklahoma Cyberinfrastructure Initiative group, an amazingly talented and collaborative group.”

MORe-OFFN expands opportunities for current researchers at regional universities by providing increased data transfer speed and streamlined connections across the state and around the nation. From atomic gas turbulence research at RSU to molecular modeling for computational chemistry at SWOSU, professors and undergraduate students can expand their research scope to engage in ground-breaking projects previously only accessible at large research institutions.

OneNet plays a key role in facilitating MORe-OFFN by furnishing the network backbone that connects all participants across the state. In addition, OneNet provides these schools with a connection to Internet2, a nationwide internet network dedicated to education and research. As an extension of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, OneNet is the only provider in Oklahoma connected to Internet2’s robust research platform. Because of this partnership, members of MORe-OFFN now have improved data transfer options that will allow them to collaborate with researchers across the nation.

Von Royal, OneNet executive director, views reliable connectivity as critical to research in Oklahoma.

“OneNet’s role is to facilitate research and education in Oklahoma,” he said. “By expanding access to research networks like MORe-OFFN, we hope to also increase the quality of education in our state.”

As these regional institutions gain access to higher quality network channels and participate in more collaborative research projects, students and professors will have more opportunities to engage in ground-breaking initiatives that will impact Oklahoma and beyond. Through this collaborative initiative, OneNet, MORe-OFFN and the participating institutions are helping change the face of rural education.

Story by Alex Franklin

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