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Univ. of Nebraska Seeks $50M Fed Funding for HPC Center Expansion

Nebraska Innovation Campus (Craig Chandler / University Communications)

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln is seeking $50 million in federal dollars via the American Rescue Plan to fund supercomputing expansion at the university’s Holland Computing Center.

According to an article on its Nebraska Today news site, the university’s proposals seek $75 million in total — $50 million for the computing center and $25 million for the public-private partnership companion facility connected to the USDA National Center for Resilient and Regenerative Precision Agriculture; the article added that the “two projects … could work in tandem to grow innovation and feed economic growth statewide.”

HPC expansion within the Holland Computing Center will include “infrastructure designed to enhance artificial intelligence computing and cybersecurity, allowing for greater collaboration with the NU-based National Strategic Research Initiative and other cutting-edge partners,” along with machine learning, data science, manufacturing and medical, according to the Nebraska Today story.

Both of the proposed facilities would be based at Nebraska Innovation Campus, allowing for greater collaborations between federal and university researchers and industry partners. Their combined work could directly benefit the state’s important ag industry.

The Holland Center currently offers, among other resources, an Intel Xeon-based cluster with 7232 cores in 452 nodes and an AMD-based cluster intended for large RAM computing needs.

Funding would come from the American Rescue Plan, also referred to as the COVID-19 Stimulus Package, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill that went into effect last March.

“The companion facility will allow us to take our cutting-edge research and make it commercially viable more quickly, getting it into the hands of Nebraska’s crop and livestock producers,” Green said. “And, when coupled with the Holland Computing Center expansion, we will have vastly enhanced capabilities in precision agriculture, allowing producers to harness data and make real-time decisions.

The USDA’s national center would house up to 60 federal research scientists in partnership with the university’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The proposed companion building would serve as a startup space, allowing for important collaborations between university, federal, state and private-sector experts.

The proposals were outlined by NU system President Ted Carter during Oct. 5 testimony before the state legislature’s Appropriations Committee.

“Our proposals will directly support the future of agriculture in Nebraska by supporting cutting-edge research to advance precision agriculture and crops that are more resilient,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said. “We will also provide additional high-speed computing resources to Nebraska businesses and our researchers, focusing specifically in growing opportunities in the use of artificial intelligence and critical cybersecurity needs.”

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