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Originally appeared in Wednesday, June 2, 2004 Oak Ridger

ORNL has key role in security effort

GOVERNOR: '[The lab] is tightly woven into the fabric of science and defense.'

By: Paul Parson, Oak Ridger Staff

KNOXVILLE - Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen sang the praises of Oak Ridge National Laboratory during Tuesday's portion of a technology summit.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge chimed in, too.

As Jeff Wadsworth sat quietly and listened to their words, the look on the lab director's face was similar to that of a proud father who was watching his son score a home run or his daughter deliver a valedictorian speech.

Tom Ridge and Zach Wamp
Marie Moffitt/Staff
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, left, and U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-3rd District, laugh at one of the lighter moments from Tuesday's technology summit at the Knoxville Convention Center. Wamp was presented the first 'Corridor Champion' award for all his work involving the Tennessee Valley Corridor, which runs from North Alabama through East Tennessee into Southwest Virginia.

One might say that ORNL played a major role in the Knoxville/Oak Ridge Technology Summit, given that the federal research facility was at the heart of several big announcements during the second day of the three-day event. On top of that, the summit's theme was turning technology into jobs, and that's something ORNL is developing a reputation for.

ORNL is managed by a partnership between the University of Tennessee and Battelle - a global science and technology enterprise that develops and commercializes technology and manages laboratories. Bredesen said the state is only beginning to realize the economic development potential of this partnership.

"We've only scratched the surface," he said.

According to the governor, around 40 companies have been created from lab-related technologies since UT-Battelle took over as ORNL's manager in April 2000.

"It's clear and convincing evidence," Bredesen said.

The governor and Ridge also noted ORNL's participation in a partnership dubbed the Tennessee Homeland Security Consortium. This effort also involves the state's six Carnegie I research institutions, an honor reserved for the nation's top research universities.

"It's a smart way to improve collaboration," said Bredesen, who described ORNL as a key player in the consortium.

"[The lab] is tightly woven into the fabric of science and defense."

Vito Gambino
Marie Moffitt/Staff
Remotec employee Vito Gambino demonstrates how one of the company's robots can be used for explosives handling on the battlefield.

According to the governor, the consortium will enable the state to "effectively marshal" its resources. The goal, according to other officials, is for the consortium to provide leadership, visionary solutions, training, education and technology for the Homeland Security challenges facing the nation.

Ridge said one vital element to combating terrorism is to develop "new means" for preventing future attacks.

"All knowledge does not reside in Washington, D.C.," he said "Everyone must be freedom's protector."

The high-ranking security official also noted that the communities and states that think regionally will outpace those that think locally.

A key example, according to Ridge, is the Tennessee consortium.

Maj. Gen. Jerry Humble, Tennessee's Homeland Security director, said the consortium represents a distinct advantage for the state of Tennessee, drawing upon an exceptional array of intellectual resources, experiences, and perspectives from the state's top research institutions and ORNL.

Signing a memorandum of understanding for the consortium were Wadsworth; Joe Johnson, UT's interim president; Shirley Raines, president of the University of Memphis; Colleen Conway-Welch, dean of the School of Nursing at Vanderbilt University; Tom Cheatham, dean of the College of Basic and Applied Science at Middle Tennessee State University; and Michael Woodruff, interim associate vice president for Research of East Tennessee State University.

U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-3rd District, said the Tennessee congressional delegation looks forward to working with the Tennessee Homeland Security Consortium to ensure that priorities support the overall Homeland Security goals of the state and the nation.

During Tuesday's summit activities, Wadsworth and Bill Baxter, director of the Tennessee Valley Authority, announced that the two entities had formed a partnership that will soon allow researchers and scientists at colleges and universities across the Tennessee Valley to connect to ORNL's supercomputer center to further strategic collaborations, enhance academic excellence and leverage economic impact.

TVA - the nation's largest public power provider - has a fiber telecommunications network throughout a significant portion of the valley that will enable institutions to link directly to ORNL's National Center for Computational Sciences and to other major national research and education networks. The network is aimed at providing superior research resources to foster education and technology development, grow new business ventures and assist in developing the overall economy of the Tennessee Valley.

The National Center for Computational Sciences at ORNL was recently chosen by the Department of Energy to lead a partnership with a goal of developing the world's fastest supercomputer.

This summer, UT's Knoxville campus and Vanderbilt University in Nashville are scheduled to gain access to the supercomputer through a connection that represents a substantial increase over the communications link currently available to UT Knoxville researchers. A meeting will be held this fall with prospective institutions that are near TVA's fiber network to discuss how they can take advantage of the opportunity.

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