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3 US universities working with academic institutions in India to install new CPUs on campus

Will allow for remote access by researchers around the world.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: Three of the leading universities in the US have teamed up on a project to help expand the computing capabilities of educational institutions in India, as part of a larger effort to connect scientists and facilitate resource sharing between the US and India.

The University of Chicago (UC), the University of Illinois (UI), and Indian University are the three US-based schools spear-heading the project, with UC researcher Rob Gardner at the helm. The three schools are working with scientists at the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai, and colleagues at Delhi University, to install new Central Processing Units (CPUs) in computers on-campus, which will allow for remote access by scientists and researchers on other campuses, and even in other countries.

The collaboration is just now getting off the ground, and is being done in conjunction with the Large Hadron Collider project at CERN, in Switzerland. Technical support is coming from CERN, whose scientists Young-Kee Kim – a faculty member in UC’s Department of Physics and Enrico Fermi Institute – initially proposed the idea of connecting scientists in India and the US. Some of the project’s funding may even come from the US National Security Agency (NSA).

The initiative is just the latest in UC’s growing involvement in India. Mere weeks ago, the school opened up a brand-new facility in New Delhi entitled the India Centre, its first in India and just its third internationally after Paris and Beijing. The initial investment cost for it was $3.45 million, and the center’s purpose will be to promote advancement in the fields of business, law, science, and the humanities.

UC was also part of a delegation that visited India last month, along with representatives from Indiana University, New York University, and other esteemed institutions, to forge ties with Indian schools and companies with the intent of fostering joint education and research initiatives. That delegation, led by Indiana University president Dr. Michael A. McRobbie, established an agreement with Internet2 president/CEO H. David Lambert and India’s National Knowledge Network (NKN) to help further that goal.

And this is all mere months after a UC student, studying abroad in India, came back and published a scathing blog post on CNN about her time on the subcontinent, saying she was sexually harassed and inappropriately ogled by Indian men.

With regards to the CPU-sharing project, although it is being run primarily by those in the physics departments of the involved institutions, it will not be relegated solely for physics-related research. The idea is that scientists from all fields and departments will have an easier way to communicate, collaborate, and innovate solutions for some of the world’s biggest problems. The goal is to have the initial stages of the project operational by early next year.