Volume 95, Issue 44

Tuesday, November 20, 2001
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SSSC pursues missing soph fees

Illegal parking poses huge safety risk

Turmoil puts war on hold

Western now home to Uber-computer

Sex offender in London

Western now home to Uber-computer

By Tola Afolabi
Gazette Staff

Recruiting and retaining faculty, along with putting Western at the forefront of academic research, are among the hopes for a new super computing facility that was officially launched on Friday.

The $42 million project, named SHARCNET (Shared Hierarchical Academic Research Computing Network), is the result of a partnership between Ontario post-secondary institutions, the federal and provincial governments and the private sector, said Nils Petersen, chair of the SHARCNET board.

The network consists of Beowulf computer clusters at Western, the University of Guelph, McMaster University, the University of Windsor, Wilfrid Laurier University, Sheridan College and Fanshawe College.

Plans are underway to connect the sites, Petersen said. "The goal is to be able to [have] the clusters as a single, large computational facility," he said.

The largest cluster – The Great White – is housed at Western along with a smaller cluster in the Engineering Science Building, said Peter Poole, SHARCNET research director and Western professor.

The super computer will be instrumental in research areas such as cancer treatment, the human genome and modeling complex financial markets, Petersen said.

Diane Cunningham, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, said she was proud of the progress Western made in the SHARCNET project.

"Our universities continue to be laboratories for innovation," Cunningham said, adding the initiative would provide jobs for young people and would help universities tailor programs to individual demands.

Western president Paul Davenport said SHARCNET would revolutionize research in Canada. "[We] have changed the landscape for research in the country and given it a vigour that we salute today," he said.

Greg Chappell, vice-president of Compaq Canada Corp. that provided $7 million for SHARCNET, said the project is top priority with the company.

"Compaq Canada has a very strong desire to work with post-secondary institutions to reverse the brain drain," he said.

Canada is often thought as possessing only a resource-based economy, Chappell said, but knowledge is also a very valuable currency. With it, he explained, Canada can retain the best and brightest and attract scientists from abroad.

Alan Wildeman, VP-research at the University of Guelph, said although partnerships with the private sector are often seen as dangerous for universities, the SHARCNET partnership has been beneficial. "Partnerships have brought a lot of transparency to the system that we didn't have before," he said. "I think the innovation agenda is great for transparency in universities."

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