By Adalio Sanchez
Forward-thinking academic institutions rely on advanced technology systems to support internal research programs and to improve their own IT operations. Just as importantly, the practical application of these technologies in the academic world plays a critical role in promoting the development and education of students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Throughout my career as a technologist, I’ve witnessed firsthand how the right technology solutions have the power to foster and advance STEM education and make our education systems smarter – from turning ideas into useful knowledge and practical business technologies that can benefit our economy and society, to filling the employment pipeline with workers equipped with the skills necessary to make them competitive and successful.
But ensuring these institutions have the opportunity to apply the most advanced technologies in the lab, in the classroom and campus wide requires the active partnership and participation of businesses and technology providers. We regularly see examples of the significant benefits, knowledge and new skills for everyone involved that result from this kind of collaboration.
The University of Miami’s Center for Computational Science is working to advance the field of genetics through the development of its Human Genome Clinical Annotation Tool for identifying specific genes associated with various human diseases. The tool is integrated with several large clinical and biological databases and must analyze as many as 200 billion data points in tens of thousands of individuals in order to accurately identify the genomes. The university turned to IBM to develop and deploy a high performance computing system for use by its students and faculty called Pegasus to efficiently perform these complex calculations and analyses.
Built with an advanced Intel CPU, the Pegasus solution is five times faster and more powerful than its predecessor, with the ability to perform 160 trillion floating-point operations per second, speeding the university’s research and the advances in medicine that will result. Pegasus also is used to help determine what path the Earth’s climate will take and supports the university’s climate, hurricane and oceanographic research programs. Additionally, the IBM solution lifted University of Miami onto the top 500 supercomputing list.
Marist College, a private liberal arts college based in Poughkeepsie, New York, is furthering cloud computing research efforts and educating students in Software Defined Networking technology through an SDN Innovation Lab sponsored by IBM.
Together, IBM and Marist help students and researchers evaluate new, smarter technologies to solve pressing business needs. For example, researchers are currently testing a cloud computing innovation that will soon prevent costly voice and data network disruptions during weather-related crises.The invention will enable data center operators to re-provision and protect these applications in mere minutes from a remote location during a storm – something that previously took days. Work like this isn’t just creating technology solutions for the real world; it’s also providing Marist students with valuable first-hand experience to help develop the high-demand, specialized skills required for today’s workforce.
At the University of Groningen in the Netherlands – founded in 1614 and one of Europe’s oldest research universities – education and research capabilities are being transformed with high-performance technology. The university turned to IBM for an HPC solution that could support its large-scale research projects, including its “Target” analytics project that was designed to change the way large amounts of raw data can be managed and analyzed to provide valuable information.IBM designed a platform supported by high-capacity, high-bandwidth server and storage technologies that increased HPC performance at the university by 50 percent, giving leading researchers and students at the university access to the predictable performance and quick data processing they need now while optimizing infrastructure to accommodate future data growth.
These are just a few examples of how academic institutions across the globe can adopt smarter technologies to advance the state of learning and research, develop the STEM skills of tomorrow’s workforce and drive real-world applications for advanced solutions in key fields such as analytics and cloud.