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BU to Help Guide High-Performance Computing Center

University joins MIT and UMass to plan $100 million Holyoke-based, green-powered project


Andrei Ruckenstein, associate provost and vice president for research at BU. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Boston University is one of three institutions of higher learning that will collaborate on the development of a high-performance computing center to be powered by green alternative energy. The center, to be built in Holyoke at a projected cost of $100 million, also involves the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Massachusetts, EMC Corporation, and Cisco Systems. It is intended to provide sufficient computing power to handle extremely complex problems such as climate modeling and biotechnology, becoming a powerful tool that will benefit many Massachusetts businesses and universities.

The collaboration on the Holyoke High-Performance Computing Center was announced by Governor Deval Patrick at a news conference on June 11, attended by BU President Robert A. Brown.

Andrei Ruckenstein, associate provost and vice president for research at BU, says the collaboration of universities and private industry augers well for the future of innovation in the state.

“Our long-standing commitment and reputation in the computational sciences make BU a leading player and a strong partner in the Holyoke High-Performance Computing Center,” says Ruckenstein. “This initiative harnesses green energy to address our growing computational infrastructure needs, while feeding economic growth and workforce capacity in western Massachusetts. As emphasized by President Brown at last week’s announcement, this project marks a new level of collaboration between academic institutions, public industry, and government, likely to be the hallmark of the innovation landscape of the future.”

The project marks the first collaboration of such size and impact involving BU, MIT, and UMass, adds Ruckenstein. He anticipates that other institutions will join as well.

Also at the news conference was Susan Hockfield, MIT president, Jack M. Wilson, UMass system president, Joseph M. Tucci, EMC chairman, president, and CEO, and John T. Chambers, Cisco chairman and CEO.

“Innovation is our calling card in Massachusetts,” said Patrick. “This partnership will usher in the next generation of high-performance computing and set us apart from our competitors.”

Patrick said the center, which will rely to a great extent on wind power and hydroelectric power from the Connecticut River, will help Holyoke and other communities throughout western Massachusetts.

The partners have agreed to work on a 120-day schedule to plan the project’s location, funding mechanisms, and management. The plan will also be guided in part by the John Adams Innovation Institute, the office of Holyoke Mayor Michael Sullivan, and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. The first phase will identify the operational, capital, environmental, workforce, and academic elements of the project and create a timetable. Other public institutions and private companies are expected to join in the effort.

Art Jahnke can be reached at jahnke@bu.edu.

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