IBM donates computing cluster to N.Y. college

computer lab

IBM has announced plans to donate an Intelligent Cluster computing solution to Schenectady, N.Y.-based Union College. The computing cluster, which is expected to be installed this summer, consists of 88 servers and more than 1,000 individual processors.

"The gift, said to be worth in excess of $1 million, will give the Schenectady school the greatest computing capacity of any undergraduate liberal arts college in the country, according to Union officials," writes The Business Review's Robin K. Coomer.

Dr. John E. Kelly III, a Union College graduate and IBM's senior vice president and director of research, announced the gift this past weekend at the dedication of the college's new Peter Irving Wold Center, a $22 million, 35,000-square-foot building housing interdisciplinary research facilities, classroom space, faculty offices, and an advanced computing lab.

"We always envisioned the Wold Center as a catalyst for innovation, creativity and the integration of disciplines," Union College President Stephen C. Ainlay said in a statement. "The computing cluster not only complements the exciting work going on at the Wold Center, it advances our role as a pioneer in liberal education. Partnerships with global leaders, such as IBM give Union students access to the kinds of hands-on opportunities that prepare them to tackle real-world problems."

According to the college, initial users of the computing cluster are expected to include faculty and students in biology, chemistry, classics, engineering, geosciences and physics. Areas of study will include three "Smarter Planet" courses focused on energy, sustainability and buildings, analytics, and open building environments. The college will collaborate with IBM on joint research projects focused on neuroscience imaging, as well as installing sensors and collecting environmental data along the Mohawk River.

"This gift will provide a robust infrastructure to support and enhance current faculty research, enabling faculty to ask broader or deeper questions and work with larger amounts of information," Ellen Yu Borkowski, the college's chief information officer, said in a statement. "It also supports Union's efforts to integrate computation in creative ways throughout our curriculum."

Union College was founded in 1795 as the first college chartered by the New York State Board of Regents. The college serves 2,100 undergraduates with programs in the liberal arts and engineering.

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