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UW Receives Computational Sciences Designation


February 3, 2012 — The University of Wyoming has been tabbed for select company: membership in the Coalition for Academic Scientific Computation (CASC). The affiliation will enable UW to form research partnerships with other universities, pursue federal research funding and even potentially be tapped as a computational sciences resource expert by President Obama and/or Congress.

"It has a prestigious element. It's a ‘Who's Who' of those conducting computational research," says Tim Kuhfuss, UW's director of research support for Information Technology. "To be invited is an honor. The University of Wyoming will benefit big time."

The university was invited in early January to join because of its strong core of programs in the computational sciences (areas include biology, engineering, geology and math) and its partnership with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Wyoming Supercomputing Center, located in Cheyenne, according to Kuhfuss. It also didn't hurt that UW is located in the West, where the organization has fewer members, he says.

"UW's membership in the CASC places us among the institutions that have made lasting commitments to the rapidly evolving ‘third leg' of science," says Myron Allen, UW's provost and vice president for academic affairs. "It's an important peer group for any university that wants to stay at the cutting edge."

"The members of the CASC are pleased to welcome the University of Wyoming as a partner in the academic high-performance computing scientific community," says CASC Chair Amy Apon, who also chairs Clemson University's Division of Computer Science.

Founded in 1989, CASC is an educational nonprofit organization with 69 member institutions in 38 states, according to Sue Fratkin, CASC's liaison. Organization members represent many of the nation's most forward-thinking universities and computing centers. According to its website, CASC is dedicated to advocating the use of the most advanced computing technology to accelerate scientific discovery for national competitiveness, global security and economic success, as well as develop a diverse and well-prepared 21st-century work force.

CASC's mission is to:

  • disseminate information about the value of high-performance computing and advanced communications technologies;
  • provide an ‘expert resource' for the executive office of the president, Congress and government agencies; and
  • facilitate information exchange within the academic scientific computation and communication community

The affiliation is already paying dividends, according to Kuhfuss. UW has culled information from officials at CASC member schools Princeton, Cornell and the University of Colorado (as well as Colorado School of Mines) that will be beneficial in establishing a "campus cluster." The cluster, expected to be completed this summer, will be a 500-square-foot advanced computing center in the IT Building that will provide UW additional computing access to the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) site in Cheyenne.

The CASC affiliation also will enable UW to participate in the organization's two annual meetings, which take place in Washington, D.C., Kuhfuss says.

"It's a good opportunity to tell the federal government our ideas and thoughts. It's also an opportunity for them to discuss where they see us going," says Kuhfuss, who pushed to get UW in the organization shortly after he arrived at the university from Chicago six months ago. "The university will receive access and updates from agencies, (research) partners and potential competitors."

"Being represented by an organization like CASC will enhance the reputation of the University of Wyoming and among our peers," he says.

Photo:
Tim Kuhfuss, UW's director of research support for Information Technology, stands among racks of academic, administrative and research servers, storage and network gear in UW's ITC Data Center. Kuhfuss was instrumental in recently helping UW secure membership in the Coalition for Academic Computational Sciences (CASC).

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