Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
Sept. 20, 1996

ISU, U of I team to get
NSF computer link

by Diana Pounds
Researchers at Iowa State and the University of Iowa are among the initial group of scientists who will have access to the National Science Foundation's new high-speed computer network.

The NSF recently announced that it is extending access to its new network, known as the Very High Speed Backbone Network Service (vBNS) to researchers at the two Iowa universities and at approximately a dozen other campuses throughout the nation. The network was started last spring to connect super- computers at a handful of universities throughout the country. Now, the NSF is extending it to a second group of universities, with more institutions to be connected later.

High-speed data transfer
The network is very useful to researchers because it transmits data at extremely high speeds and is less congested and more reliable than the commercial Internet, said George Covert, associate director of the ISU Computation Center. Researchers need the high speeds to work with complex computer models, exchange large amounts of data and link to supercomputers throughout the nation.

"NSF selected Iowa and Iowa State for connection to the vBNS because of the quality of the research projects for which it will be used, and the networking capability of the Iowa research universities," Covert added.

ISU and U of I researchers plan to use the network for simulating climates throughout the world, developing virtual reality environments, medical research requiring analysis of large amounts of genetic information and a number of other projects.

Institutional partnership
"The NSF connection opens the door to us for some significant research opportunities," said Bill Decker, associate vice president for research and director of information technology at the University of Iowa.

"It also is a wonderful example of a partnership between two state institutions. Most of the other proposals to the NSF came from single institutions."

The high-speed network, the vBNS, is operated by MCI Telecommunications Corp. Iowa and Iowa State's link to the network will be carried through the Iowa Communications Network (ICN).

The ICN is a state-owned fiber optic network that provides video, data and voice services to educational institutions and other public sector agencies throughout the state.

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