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UA to develop fastest computing system in state

The University of Alabama will be home to the fastest computing system in the state, thanks to funding from the state and federal governments.

Sen. Katie Britt said a $44.5 million investment from the U.S. Department of Commerce will go toward the High Performance Computing and Data Center. The funding is provided by the department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The center will help research particularly in the areas of water, transportation, cybersecurity and human well-being.

“The hydrological research conducted at the University of Alabama is critical to our country’s national security and future,” said Britt (R-Montgomery). “This targeted, strategic federal investment will enable researchers across the University of Alabama System to continue to make ground-breaking discoveries and contributions to our state and nation.”

University President Stuart Bell spoke about the significance of the new endowment.

“This funding will greatly enhance UA’s ability to make scientific and engineering advances that support critical work in water security, as well as research in a variety of areas of water related science,” said Bell. “Not only will it strengthen collaboration across the UA system and between our students and key players in the growing water industry and other scientific research areas, but it will also develop the technical skills that our students can then apply in valuable careers that will support new industry opportunities in our state.”

Most of the funding for the $96 million project comes from the Commerce Department and a $46 million supplemental appropriation from the state’s Education Trust Fund, as approved by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Kay Ivey this year.

“We are grateful to Sen. (Katie) Britt and the Alabama Legislature for their support of this project, which is critical to the UA System’s longstanding priority of fostering a knowledge-based economy in Tuscaloosa and across the state,” said UA System Chancellor Finis St. John IV.

Funded by the millions in increased funding, a new facility will be part of the Office of Research and Economic Development, will house state-of-the-art supercomputers and research equipment for modeling and simulation.

“The High Performance Computing and Data Center touches every discipline on campus and is an opportunity to incorporate technology in the University’s entire fabric to engage and prepare students for their careers,” said Dr. Allen Parrish, interim vice president for research and economic development. “This center will be a driver for developing a highly skilled workforce that will spur economic development for the 21st century in Alabama.”

The HPC center is planned for completion in August 2024.

Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.

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