ESI-MORe-OFFN Award Connects Two Campuses to Oklahoma’s Research Network
Oklahoma’s Science DMZ—the OneOklahoma Friction Free Network—is expanding again. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and OneNet a $414,595 Campus Cyberinfrastructure (CC*) grant to connect two more campuses to OFFN.
This is the fourth expansion of the research network that was established by an NSF grant in 2013. Previous NSF grant awards connected 17 colleges and universities to OFFN. This new award specifically targeted two smaller campuses to expand scientific research and access to cloud-based resources for classroom use.
Administered by NSF’s Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure, the CC* grant program invests in campus-level cyberinfrastructure improvements for science applications and research projects.
The Extended Small Institution Multiple Organization Regional OneOklahoma Friction Free Network is a two-year award that will connect Cameron University’s Fires Innovation Science and Technology Accelerator (CU-FISTA) campus and Oklahoma City University (OCU) to the OFFN network.
“The State Regents are pleased to add these two Oklahoma campuses to the OFFN network,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “These connections will expand research and education initiatives for faculty and classrooms at these campuses. The grant also has a significant educational impact for a diverse student population, including first-generation college students.”
As Oklahoma’s Science DMZ, OFFN is a 10 and 100 Gbps research network that provides higher education institutions with a dedicated route to internet and research networks that is much faster than traditional internet highways. This alternate pathway allows researchers to bypass slower traditional networks and transmit data at higher speeds.
A Science DMZ engineers a portion of a campus network for science applications. According to ESnet, who developed the model, the configuration and security policies of a Science DMZ create an environment tailored to meet high-performance scientific computing needs, including high-volume data transfer, remote experiment control and data visualization.
The project will make advanced cyberinfrastructure tools and services available to the two campuses and support research and education initiatives such as:
- Artificial intelligence (AI) remote sensing research
- GIS simulations for construction buildings, terrain identification and agriculture engineering research
- Cybersecurity and information assurance curriculum
Oklahoma City University
- Aerial 3-D data collection and real-time visualization using game engine technology
- Analysis of spatial processes using machine-learning techniques applied to real-world issues
- Statistical programs and libraries for classroom use
The grant award also will fund optical fiber builds to both campuses, providing CU-FISTA with a 100 Gbps connection and OCU with a 10 Gbps connection to OneNet and the OFFN network.
“Cameron University is thrilled to partner with OneNet to join the OneOklahoma Friction Free Network to improve our cyberinfrastructure,” said Cameron University President John McArthur. “This opportunity will expand educational access for our students and faculty while increasing support for area defense industry partners.”
“We are excited to join OFFN and for the potential it offers to our university for research and collaboration with other universities in the region,” said Gerry Hunt, OCU’s chief information officer. “The infrastructure from this grant provides exciting opportunities with many of our programs on campus. We are developing virtual reality projects in our Game Design and Animation program and elaborate data analytics projects in our business school, all of which require the transmission and sharing of enormous amounts of data. This network provides us the resources to pursue these projects and others in the future.”
The award will be managed by OneNet, and Vonley Royal, OneNet executive director and State Regents’ chief information officer, will serve as principal investigator. Kelly McClure of CU will lead campus technology, and Jeff Price of OCU will lead research and education application adoption. Brian Burkhart and Sky Pettett of OneNet will manage network technology implementation and training.
OneNet makes ESI-MORe-OFFN possible by providing the network that connects the colleges and universities. OneNet also provides access to Internet2, a nationwide network for education and research. Internet2 is a 100Gbps network that supports big data movement and collaboration among educators across the nation. As a division of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, OneNet is the only organization in Oklahoma that provides access to Internet2.
“With this new funding from NSF, OneNet is bringing cyberinfrastructure resources to two more Oklahoma institutions to support scientific discovery and innovation,” said Royal. “The high-speed connections, supercomputing resources and data transfer capabilities of the OFFN network will be a game-changer for researchers and students at these two campuses.”
OneNet has collaborated with several important partners for the ESI-MORe-OFFN project. Internet2 provided support for the grant application, in addition to other OneNet partners including University of Oklahoma, The Quilt, Great Plains Network, Engagement and Performance Operations Center (EPOC) and the Great Plains Regional Cyber Team.
The State Regents and OneNet hope to continue growing the OFFN network and expanding access to cyberinfrastructure resources. Plans for another NSF grant application to connect additional colleges to the network is underway.