Originally appeared in Thursday, August 22, 2002 Oak Ridger
URL: http://www.oakridger.com/stories/082202/new_0822020018.html

JICS/ORCAS building

  This is an artist's rendering of the new $10 million Joint Institute for Computational Sciences and the Oak Ridge Center for Advanced Studies, touted as a "landmark" project located at the ORNL complex. It will be funded by the state and managed jointly by the laboratory and UT.

Big dividends expected from Joint Institute

by R. Cathey Daniels
Oak Ridger staff

Officials gathered today to kick off a three-way partnership that is expected to pay big dividends in the future for Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee and the state.

The $10 million Joint Institute for Computational Sciences and the Oak Ridge Center for Advanced Studies are being touted as a "landmark" project located at the ORNL complex. It will be funded by the state and managed jointly by the laboratory and UT.

"We at ORNL are extremely grateful to Don Sundquist and the Tennessee Legislature for their vision in funding this facility," said ORNL Director Bill Madia in a written statement. "We look forward to collaborating with Dr. John Shumaker and the University of Tennessee to strengthen the research programs at both institutions."

Gov. Sundquist said: "Many of us in Nashville were excited by the opportunity to help the University of Tennessee develop such a close and valuable partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Our flagship university now has access to equipment, talent and research facilities that we otherwise could never hope to have. This is an investment that will pay dividends for years to come at both UT and ORNL."

UT President John Shumaker echoed the sentiment.

"The University of Tennessee benefits significantly from this partnership. The university community is able to utilize computational research without solely building and maintaining the hardware. Perhaps more important, our faculty gain access to one of the world's largest computers -- an opportunity that would be unthinkable in the traditional university environment. The contribution of this joint initiative to our research mission will be enormous."

According to a press release, the new 52,000-square-foot facility will house two programs: One to promote the use of high-performance computer resources in Tennessee, and another to establish a 21st-century "think tank" for exploring science and technology issues.

The Joint Institute will be part of ORNL's efforts to expand the lab's high-performance computing capacity. Already home to the eighth fastest computer in the world, ORNL has been selected by the Department of Energy to develop a new computer that will challenge the Japanese Earth Simulator as the world's most powerful.

Thomas Zacharia, ORNL associate laboratory director for Computing and Computational Sciences, said the new facility would be "crucial" to the lab's efforts.

"The expanded partnership with UT will strengthen ORNL's ability to compete for a variety of new research programs in areas such as genomics, climate change, and national security that require enormous computing capabilities," said Zacharia.

The Center for Advanced Studies is expected to bring together scientists and educators from leading institutions across the nation to form the "intellectual core" of a 21st-century think tank, according to the press release.

"Our purpose is to bring together some of the greatest minds in the world to work on scientific challenges that are too big for any single laboratory or university," said Madia. "The program will be comparable with facilities like the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico and the Aspen Institute in Colorado."

Madia added that "visionary thinkers" from the Center will meet this fall in Washington, D.C., with researchers from the National Academy of Sciences and key universities and industries to address energy infrastructure assurance.

"The results should help us understand energy assurance implications for future energy systems," he said. "This symposium provides an excellent example of how ORCAS can enable our scientists, and those of many other institutions, to concentrate their expertise on issues crucial to our nation."

The University of Tennessee established the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences in 1991 to encourage and facilitate the effective use of high-performance computing resources in the state.

The relationship with ORNL expanded when UT joined Battelle in April 2000 to manage the laboratory.

The building contractor for the new facility is CMC Construction of Oak Ridge. Completion is expected in January 2004.

R. Cathey Daniels can be contacted at (865) 220-5515 or danielsrcd@oakridger.com.
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