CORVALLIS - A facility that will improve access and research on some of the world's most sophisticated computer network technology made its official debut in special ceremonies on May 27 at Oregon State University.

The open house for this new, 3,500 square foot computer science laboratory, office and research facility helped university deans, department heads and researchers learn more about its capabilities in aiding scientific research and expanding the frontiers of computer science, officials said.

The facility is a primary part of OSU's leadership in several new initiatives in this field, which include the Northwest Alliance for Computational Science and Engineering(NACSE), directed by OSU professor of computer science Cherri Pancake; the $30 million National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI); and the Network for Engineering and Research in Oregon (NERO).

A broad goal is to assist scientists and engineers around the nation, identifying the obstacles, eliminating the stumbling blocks and making it easier for them to use high performance computers without having to be on the "bleeding edge" of computer science.

"There will be many uses for these new computing and networking capabilities in our research on the environment, computer science, physics and other fields," said Tad Reynales, director of NERO.

At the open house, university officials and researchers saw demonstrations of web-based computer applications, web access to high performance computers and multidisciplinary databases, digital video and multimedia.

The new facility will be able to assist scientists in their research, test different types of software for use in computational science and engineering, develop multi-media applications and serve as the center for NERO operation of the statewide "backbone" for the Oregon University System, Reynales said.

Extensive collaboration in many of these computing fields is growing, Reynales said.

For instance, OSU and its collaborators in NPACI will help revolutionize high performance computing and networking, helping researchers solve large, complex, national problems - like climate and weather prediction or the development of sophisticated drugs.

It also will be a catalyst for development among computer vendors, and provide new and faster electronic delivery mechanisms among elite research centers.

OSU will play a unique role in the growth and operation of this national alliance, developing and improving World Wide Web software so scientists can access data from different locations around the country.

Such software will make it possible for researchers to link information without mastering the details of how it's organized and stored at each site. OSU is the only university in the nation which has targeted its research efforts in evaluating and improving Web usability. As a partner in NPACI, the university will provide research facilities and conduct distributed tests of software prototypes.

In NERO, a high speed computer network links engineers, computer scientists and private industry all across Oregon, allowing them to work together, address problems, and collaborate on instruction or research.

The new facility housed in the LaSells Stewart Center has been operational since March 1 and is continuing to expand.

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Tad Reynales, 541-737-5235