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Originally appeared in June 4, 2004

TVA, ORNL Partner To Help Link Valley Universities

TVA and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have 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 Director Bill Baxter and ORNL Director Jeffrey Wadsworth announced the partnership at the Tennessee Valley Corridor Summit in Knoxville. ORNL is developing world-class capabilities in neutron sciences, biotechnology and computational sciences. The National Center for Computational Sciences at ORNL was recently chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy to lead a partnership with a goal of developing the world's fastest supercomputer.

TVA has a fiber telecommunications network throughout the Valley that will enable area institutions to link directly to the National Center for Computational Sciences at ORNL and to other major national research and education networks.

"Initially, the effort between ORNL and TVA takes advantage of the TVA fiber infrastructure that is not being used for TVA purposes to help the Southeast deploy the world's best communications network for scientific and clinical research, technology development and education," said Thomas Zacharia, associate lab director for the Computing and Computational Sciences Directorate at ORNL. "We have unique intellectual and technological strengths in the valley and a world class network will allow us to pool these resources to maximum economic advantage."

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.

"This partnership with ORNL is a perfect fit," Baxter said. "It will not only help provide Valley universities access to valuable research, but it will also help the region capitalize on economic development based on the existing technology sector."

The University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University in Nashville are scheduled to gain access to the National Center for Computational Sciences through a Knoxville-Oak Ridge-Nashville connection later this summer. This represents a substantial increase over the communications link currently available to UT Knoxville researchers. Previously, ORNL provided the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga access to the Oak Ridge facilities.

A meeting will be held this fall with prospective institutions that are close to TVA's fiber network to discuss how other institutions can take advantage of this new opportunity. Potential collaborators include Tennessee Technological University, the University of Memphis, UT Health Sciences Center at Memphis, St. Jude Research Hospital, the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, the University of Alabama at Huntsville, NASA Research Institute, East Tennessee State University, Western Kentucky University, the University of Louisville and universities in the University of Kentucky system.

"We are delighted that we have the opportunity to provide access to ORNL's unique national user facilities," Wadsworth said. "It is a great example of how we are leveraging our resources for the collective good of the region."

ORNL is a DOE multiprogram research facility managed by UT-Battelle. TVA is the nation's largest public power provider and is completely self-financed. TVA provides power to large industries and 158 power distributors that serve approximately 8.5 million consumers in seven Southeastern states.

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