Industrial firms in the Southeast have an opportunity to use the computational resources of a Department of Energy national lab to solve their difficult scientific problems. Through the Computational Center for Industrial Innovation (CCII), part of DOE's Center for Computational Sciences at ORNL, industry can gain access to the Laboratory's high-performance computing resources by doing collaborative research with ORNL researchers who use CCS supercomputers.
in 1994, CCII initially offered a place for ORNL and industrial researchers
to work together, often face to
face, to solve complex industrial problems.
Thomas Zacharia led CCII researchers in developing computer codes to facilitate the design of a stronger beverage can using less aluminum and to help car companies and the Department of Transportation model car collisions using supercomputers. Because a fuel-efficient, pollution-free car made of lightweight materials has been a national goal, car companies are interested in using computer modeling to determine whether a car made of materials lighter than steel could be designed to be as resistant to damage in a collision as today's heavier vehicles.
when Zacharia moved from his position as head
of CCII to director of ORNL's Computer
Science and Mathematics
Division (CSMD), he focused on
developing a close relationship between CCS
and supercomputer vendors.
Today Alex Fischer, director of ORNL's Office of Technology Transfer and Economic Development, and Jeff Nichols, current director of CSMD, believe that CCS could give Tennessee a competitive advantage, similar to what the state enjoyed during the mid-20th century when manufacturing prospered because of low labor costs and the ability to ship goods cheaply on railroads. When the interstate highways were built, Tennessee had a similar goods distribution advantage because of its central location in the nation; the state is within a day's drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population.
The American economy in the 21st century may be driven by information and knowledge. Industry and businesses will seek greater access to tools for making better use of information. Just as railroads and interstate highways provided Tennessee and the Southeast with ways to ship large volumes of products quickly to customers, the telecommunications infrastructure will be essential for moving large amounts of data at high speeds.
CCS will be a hub linked by high-speed networks with Chattanooga and Atlanta to the south, Nashville and Memphis to the west, the Research Triangle to the east, and Chicago to the north. A contract has already been signed with Qwest to build the network south from CCS to a university simulation center. CCS will have high-speed connectivity around the nation.
The biomedical industry in Memphis and the health care industry in Nashville have expressed an interest in using the powerful supercomputers and electron microscopes at ORNL. These industries will likely have access to a high-speed network to ORNL because the Laboratory is partnering with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to use the excess 'dark" optical fiber that the nation's largest public utility installed with its power transmission system. ORNL would provide the lasers and repeaters to turn TVA's unused fiber into a high-speed network connecting Oak Ridge with Nashville and Memphis.
According to Fischer, "If we can connect the dots of industry in the Southeast to ORNL's powerful supercomputers, Tennessee would have a strategic advantage for economic development for the 21st century."
Web site provided by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Communications and External Relations