OneOCII Increases Oklahoma’s Research Potential

OneOCII LogoAcross the state of Oklahoma, more than 100 institutions enjoy access to state of the art supercomputing resources. Researchers process and send massive data sets across the nation and globe to collaborate with other scientists on projects involving the human genome, high-energy physics, severe weather research and more. This is the face of modern research, and The Oklahoma Cyberinfrastructure Initiative (OneOCII) is enabling Oklahomans to pursue these high volume projects without limitations.

OneOCII is a statewide initiative to provide cyberinfrastructure resources as well as expertise and education to statewide research organizations. This collaborative initiative allows more Oklahoma higher education institutions, career technology schools, high schools and even non-academic organizations to pursue advanced research projects.

Without OneOCII, large scale supercomputing experiments would be limited to institutions that could afford to develop the infrastructure and network needed for such high speeds. In Oklahoma, this means almost all higher education institutions would be excluded from these projects. College students and research organizations would lose out on the educational and research opportunities available through high-level data experiments. The state would be less competitive for research grants.

The collaboration project began in 2008 when Oklahoma won a National Science Foundation Grant for research infrastructure improvement. Through this grant, The University of Oklahoma (OU) and Oklahoma State University (OSU), Oklahoma’s two research universities, developed an agreement to share cyber infrastructure resources with not only each other, but also with all non-commercial research and education institutions across the state.

This collaboration agreement opened up immense opportunities for smaller organizations whose research opportunities were limited by budget and scale. By participating in this cooperative initiative, researchers across the state don’t have to limit their innovation due to resource constraints.

As Oklahoma’s only statewide internet network, OneNet acts as the backbone for this collaboration project through its common, scalable network. Organizations within OneOCII have bandwidth options from one to 100 gigabit, so each institute can have a network tailored to their research needs while utilizing supercomputing resources.

Currently, more than 100 organizations utilize the supercomputing power provided through OneOCII. Major member institutions include OU’s Supercomputing Center for Education and Research, OSU, Langston University, Tandy Supercomputing Center, The University of Central Oklahoma, The University of Tulsa and OneNet. Dr. Joel Snow, associate professor at Langston University, credits OneNet’s infrastructure and collaborative initiative for Langston’s increase in scientific research grants.

“OneNet’s network enhancement has enabled Langston University’s High Energy Physics department to obtain support from the Dept. of Energy for research and related computing,” he said. “Our network upgrade was an important factor in Langston being awarded a Major Research Infrastructure Award from the National Science Foundation.”

OneOCII also expands opportunities for more research grants. In fact, the OneOCII network has been responsible for more than $42 million in external grants. This network of institutions has allowed Langston University to acquire a supercomputing cluster through an NSF grant. Known as “Lucille,” this cluster allows researchers at Langston to gain continuous high-energy physics data from experiments taking place in Switzerland. Without OneOCII as an infrastructure foundation, the expense for maintaining Langston’s high-speed network would be astronomical.

“Collaborating with OneNet has enabled ‘big science’ computing at Langston,” said Snow. “This allows us to offer educational opportunities that attract and educate students for STEM careers, and as a result creates a more capable, employable and technology savvy work force for Oklahoma and beyond.”

The goals of OneOCII are to reach institutions outside the mainstream of advanced computing, serve every higher education institution in Oklahoma, educate Oklahomans about advanced computing and attract underrepresented populations and institution types into advanced computing.

OneOCII leaders engage the research community by providing ‘Supercomputing in Plain English’ courses so that educators gain familiarity with the use of supercomputers for research projects. They also collaborate to help these institutes acquire necessary equipment for data processing and aid in grant proposals.

“Through collaboration, OneOCII gives Oklahoma’s brightest minds the opportunities to reach new scientific heights without constraints,” said Von Royal, OneNet executive director. “This project exemplifies a mission of OneNet: empowering communities through technology.”

Story by Alexandra Franklin

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