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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

NSF provides cloud computing grant exceeding $100,000

The National Science Foundation has provided the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a prestigious grant exceeding $100,000 to obtain the first cloud computing instrument dedicated to research and education in the state.

The three-year grant, “MRI: Acquisition of a Cloud Computing Infrastructure for Research and Education,” provides funding of $108,125.

“With the revolutionary technology of cloud computing, this instrument will significantly boost research at UALR and across the state of Arkansas,” said UALR Chancellor Joel E. Anderson.

Cloud computing is synonymous with the ability to run a program on many connected computers at the same time. It relies on shared resources to achieve coherence and economies of scale in much the same way as the electricity grid provides a vast network of power to multiple users at the same time and at competitive rates.

According to Anderson, the award will enhance education at UALR and beyond, and it will provide hands-on opportunities for students to learn about the innovative techniques of cloud computing. It will also enable and promote training for technical and high-end workforce to achieve the state’s mission in economic growth.

Cloud computing

Dr. Shucheng Yu, the grant’s principal investigator, is joined by co-investigators Drs. Mengjun Xie, Chia-Chu Chiang and Kenji Yoshigoe in the UALR Computational Research Center where the new cloud instrument will be placed.

UALR Computational Research Center

Anderson credited the efforts of UALR’s Department of Computer Science faculty for their hard work in obtaining funding for the grant. Assistant Professor Dr. Shucheng Yu, the grant’s principal investigator, was joined by co-investigators Drs. Mengjun Xie, Kenji Yoshigoe, and Chia-Chu Chiang in submitting the grant.

Yu and his collaborators have ensured the instrument is accessible to the campus, as well as collaborators at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, University of Central Arkansas, and researchers at other universities in the state.

Over half of the projects slated for cloud computing use will be dedicated to researching cyber-security issues, said Yu.

According to Yu, the curriculum at UALR will be enhanced with the unique computing capability of the cloud not previously available, and will help scientists in diverse research areas undertake complex calculations even as their needs and specific research requirements may change over time.

The instrument will help support hundreds of simultaneous virtual machine instances, and handle large-scale parallel tasks in the era of big data enabling researchers to carry out various cutting-edge research projects, spanning areas of social networks, cloud computing security, cryptography, biomedical computing, and data stream analysis according to Yu.

Photo caption: Dr. Shucheng Yu, the grant’s principal investigator, is joined by co-investigators Drs. Mengjun Xie, Chia-Chu Chiang and Kenji Yoshigoe in the UALR Computational Research Center where the new cloud instrument will be placed.