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Rensselaer/NYSERDA News Announcement

Remarks by
Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.
President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations (CCNI)
Rensselaer Technology Park, Troy, New York

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Good morning everyone, and thank you for joining us today at the Rensselaer supercomputing center, the Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations.

Allow me to extend a warm Rensselaer welcome to our friends from NYSERDA and IBM, in addition to Rensselaer students, faculty, and staff, our partners in government, our CCNI research partners, and all of you who have joined us today.

I would like to take a moment to recognize some of our elected officials who took the time to join us today:

  • New York State Senator Kathleen Marchione (43rd Senate District)
  • New York State Senator Neil Breslin (44th Senate District)
  • New York State Assemblymember John McDonald (Assembly District 108)
  • New York State Assemblymember Steven McLaughlin (Assembly District 107)

Thank you for all that you do for your districts on behalf of your constituents.

All of us gathered here today know that our health and prosperity, our security, and the availability of good jobs depend upon our advances in science and technology.

As I have said many times, in a range of venues, these critical scientific discoveries and technological innovations long have been driven by a strong collaboration among business, government, and academia. 

This three-way partnership is an essential component of a strong “innovation ecosystem,” which can drive our economy, our prosperity, and our well being.

Today we are here to celebrate a success story of just such a successful collaboration—a very productive partnership among Rensselaer and IBM, and New York State—in this case, NYSERDA.

Rensselaer researchers are at the forefront of applying high performance computing to today’s most challenging and complex problems including energy security, health, food, water, and national security, and the linked challenges of climate change and allocation of scarce resources.

Finding solutions involves massive amounts of data, and requires complex modeling and computations, driven by ever-more powerful supercomputers.

As we dramatically increase the computational power of our supercomputers, we also must reduce the energy requirements.

We, at Rensselaer, are working both sides of this equation by partnering with IBM to use more powerful and more energy efficient computers, while benefitting from the support of NYSERDA to upgrade the power and cooling systems required to handle the increasing computational capacity here at the CCNI.

We recently transitioned our supercomputing research platform to a powerful new IBM Blue Gene/Q system. This new system already is four times faster and uses half the amount of energy as our previous system.

These energy efficient new Blue Gene/Qs are water cooled, whereas their predecessors required massive amounts of air conditioning. To accommodate this technology, we needed to install an advanced new water and cooling system.

The $1.8 million in funding from NYSERDA will support the critical upgrades to this center’s electrical and mechanical infrastructure.

The result is that, working in partnership with IBM and NYSERDA, we will increase our computational capabilities per watt of power.

That represents critical cost savings for the university and energy savings for the environment. And it enables ever greater computation capabilities going forward.

We live in a data-driven, web-enabled, globally interconnected world. At Rensselaer we are working to maximize the value of these new tools—through research, and through our work with business partners. At the same time, we are preparing the next generation of scientists and engineers to take full advantage of these new tools.

All of this—the critical discoveries and innovations that are happening now, and those we can only dream about and work toward—are made possible because each sector in our strong innovation ecosystem has played its role. We thank IBM and NYSERDA, and all of my colleagues here at Rensselaer for the strong partnership that is driving us into a better future.

As many of you know, for more than a decade now, we have led a transformation at Rensselaer that was guided by the Rensselaer Plan, and that effort brought us new platforms, including our supercomputing center. We now are moving to a new era, guided by a refreshed strategic plan—we call it The Rensselaer Plan 2012-2024—that will position us for our 200th anniversary. We are moving from transforming Rensselaer to becoming increasingly transformational. Advances like the one we celebrate today, made possible by our creative partnerships, will enable our future success.

Let me conclude with a word of thanks to the team that who worked together to make this possible. At Rensselaer, Chris Carothers, the Director of the CCNI, Jackie Stampalia, and John Fisher from the Division of the Chief Information Office have guided our efforts. Of course, I applaud the leader himself, John Kolb, who is our CIO. I thank Michael Hennesy of IBM and the team led by Frank Murray at NYSERDA for their partnership as we drive discovery and innovation.

Thank you.


Source citations are available from the division of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Statistical data contained herein were factually accurate at the time it was delivered. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute assumes no duty to change it to reflect new developments.

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