Purdue, IU consortium aims to drive new era for research, education online
A powerful Web platform that allows scientists to share research modeling tools, presentations and experimental findings is the focus of a new partnership between Purdue and Indiana universities.
Purdue is launching a consortium for joint development of the platform, called HUBzero, originally created by Purdue researchers. Gerry McCartney, Purdue's vice president for information technology and chief information officer, will tell the university's trustees on Friday (Feb. 13) that Indiana University will be the consortium's first member.
"We expect the HUBzero consortium will include universities from across North America in the coming months," McCartney said. "We're pleased that our neighbor and close research partner IU is the first member."
Cyberinfrastructure is the software that connects people to computing resources and to one another online. HUBzero provides a way to host simulation tools and other educational and research resources, making them as effortless to access as a Web page. It also gives researchers immediate access to national supercomputing resources via the National Science Foundation's TeraGrid.
Hubs using the technology are far more than information repositories, said Michael McLennan, senior research scientist and hub technology architect at Purdue. HUBzero enables users to work together as they interact with content and employ interactive simulation tools.
"Users aren't just reading about science; they can experience it," he said.
Purdue launched the hub technology in 2002 with nanoHUB.org, an international resource for nanotechnology theory, simulation and education.
"After creating nanoHUB, we realized the underlying technology could be used by all sorts of educational, scientific, technical and research communities," McCartney said.
More than a half dozen hubs, in fields such as cancer care, advanced manufacturing techniques, health-care research and global engineering education, have been developed. These hubs contain simulation and modeling tools and also interactive online classes and tutorials, question-and-answer forums, podcasts and more.
The new HUBzero consortium will share the technology with IU.
Projects such as the HUBzero consortium are good for both campuses and make efficient use of the state's investment in higher education, said Brad Wheeler, IU's vice president for information technology and chief information officer.
"By combining our resources, IU and Purdue ensure that our researchers and students have world-leading computational resources available to them at any time," Wheeler said. "Projects such as HUBzero are critical parts of the cyberinfrastructure that increase efficiency in research and education."
The results enabled by those resources may be a win for the state and society as well, McCartney said.
"We're building a computing infrastructure that scientists and engineers can use to make monumental discoveries," he said.
Purdue and IU jointly manage the state's fiber optic network I-Light, partner on a number of significant IT-related research and economic development projects, including jointly operating a 20-teraflop supercomputer, and collaborate on several research proposals submitted to the National Science Foundation.