OFFN Expands Research Computing to Small Campuses in Oklahoma

CaRE-MORe-OFFN MapThrough a series of National Science Foundation Campus Cyberinfrastructure CC* awards, OneNet is expanding research computing to small colleges and universities across the state of Oklahoma. OneNet is utilizing $1.5 million in grant funding to connect nine campuses to Oklahoma’s dedicated research network, the OneOklahoma Friction Free Network (OFFN).

OFFN utilizes OneNet’s network infrastructure and provides 10 to 100 Gbps connectivity to give higher education institutions a dedicated alternative route to traditional internet pathways.  Among other advantages, this allows researchers to access supercomputing resources across the state and allows for faster data transfer.

OneNet received its first CC* award in July 2020. The Small Institution Multiple Organization Regional OneOklahoma Friction Free Network award connected Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology, Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City, Redlands Community College, Oklahoma Christian University and the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma to the network.

Researchers and students are utilizing the network for both science and learning.  Students in OC’s big data management course put the new connection to work when they used the University of Oklahoma’s supercomputing cluster, Schooner, to perform a class assignment that gave them experience working with large data sets. Science & Arts utilized several universities’ supercomputers to conduct chemistry research by transferring research data on their OFFN connection. Students presented the results of their research at the 2022 Oklahoma Research Day Symposium.

NSF granted OneNet’s second award in September 2021. The Extended Small Institution Multiple Organization Regional OneOklahoma Friction Free Network connects Oklahoma City University and the Cameron University FISTA campus to the network. Fiber builds are currently underway to both of these campuses, so that OFFN can provide high-speed connectivity to both sites.

In May 2022, OneNet received its third award. The Campus Research & Education Multiple Organization Regional OneOklahoma Friction Free Network connects Murray State College and College of the Muscogee Nation to the network and upgrades connectivity for Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology and Rogers State University. The OneNet team is currently procuring fiber builds to three of these institutions and ordering the network equipment. These connections will bring the total number of institutions connected to OFFN to 21.

“As Oklahoma’s partner in research and education, OneNet is utilizing NSF CC* funding to increase research computing capabilities for our state’s small higher education campuses,” said Brian Burkart, OneNet’s chief technology officer and the principal investigator for the grant awards.

“Our goal is to engage faculty and students in scientific discovery and innovation through OFFN’s data transfer capabilities and high-speed connections to supercomputing resources, instruments and datasets. These investments not only foster new discoveries but enhance educational opportunities for students in our state.”

OneNet plans to continue applying to the NSF CC* program to expand OFFN’s reach. Burkhart and the OneNet team are working on a new proposal to connect four additional colleges and universities to the network.

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