Senators DeWine, Kohl Introduce Blue Collar Computing Bill, an OSC Initiative, to Support Businesses, Manufacturers

Columbus, OH -- June 16, 2006 – Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) have introduced the “Blue Collar Computing and Business Assistance Act of 2006,” an initiative championed by the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) to make high performance computing (HPC) resources available to small businesses and manufacturers.
The bill creates the Advanced Multidisciplinary Computing Software Institute (AMCSI) with a threefold purpose to:

  • Develop and compile HPC software and algorithms suitable for applications in small business and manufacturing,
  • Effectively transfer new computational science and HPC technologies to small businesses and manufacturers, and
  • Actively assist small businesses and manufacturers in utilizing HPC.

“Small businesses and manufacturers are critical to growing our economy and we need to do all we can to support them,” said Senator DeWine.  “This bill would help small businesses become even more productive and competitive by allowing them to harness the cutting-edge supercomputing technology that our larger corporations are already using. With this technology, small businesses in Ohio and across America will be able to compete even better in the expanding global marketplace.”

OSC launched the Blue Collar Computing initiative with support from the Ohio Board of Regents to provide industrial users that lack HPC resources, training, and expertise with HPC tools to enhance their competitiveness.

“I envision the widespread use of high performance computing by companies that want to become more competitive in the global economy,” said Stan Ahalt, OSC executive director. “The benefits reaped from Blue Collar Computing to these companies will be many.  They will be able to increase return on investment, deliver products to the marketplace faster, or produce more sophisticated products with a higher profit margin.”

At an SC2004 keynote speech in Pittsburgh, PA, Ahalt proposed that a fundamental shift in the HPC market -- the inclusion of Blue Collar Computing -- needs to take place to revitalize the nation’s leadership in computational science, engineering and product design.
HPC’s advantages to science and engineering, according to Ahalt, have not transferred to many of the industries that would benefit dramatically from an infusion of computation. Rarely discussed is how engineering design or manufacturing might use HPC to produce radically improved products. These are areas in which using HPC as a competitive tool can help create new markets, new opportunities, and new jobs.

Several barriers in industry must be removed for industry to effectively use HPC. These barriers include the relative lack of HPC tools such as readily available and easy-to-use software for widespread industrial HPC use, an adequately trained workforce, and lack of clarity on HPC’s return on investment .
The Blue Collar Computing and Business Assistance Act would authorize up to $25 million per year for five years for the Department of Commerce to create up to five new supercomputing centers across the country. Staff from these centers would help small businesses find areas where supercomputing would help them stay competitive, and then link the businesses with existing supercomputing labs to execute those plans.  The centers would also develop software specifically designed to meet the needs of small businesses. 
OSC has already implemented needed technology infrastructure and programs to complement Blue Collar Computing for greater productivity and economic development in Ohio, including:

  • Third Frontier Network – The TFN is the premier 1,600-mile high-speed research network that links Ohio’s colleges and universities, K-12 schools, public television stations, and economic development centers. Serving widespread and often remote areas of Ohio, the TFN links key regional rings to the world (www.tfn.oar.net).
  • Ralph Regula School of Computational Science – As the nation’s first statewide school of computational science, the Ralph Regula School of Computational Science draws on Ohio’s educational strengths. This program’s focus is direct outreach and training for Ohio industries and businesses (www.osc.edu/education/regula).

OSC is actively fostering partnerships with industry to help develop high productivity software and radically changing the computer science education needed for business use of HPC.
"The Regents have long been committed to high-tech solutions, such as Ohio's dedicated, fiber-optic Third Frontier Network, to generate economic growth in Ohio," said Garrison Walters, Ohio Board of Regents interim chancellor. "We are excited by the potential that Blue Collar Computing offers to further spur collaboration between the state's colleges and universities, commercial research partners and OSC to make Ohio a leader in computational science."
More information on Blue Collar Computing is available at www.bluecollarcomputing.org.

About the Ohio Board of Regents
The Ohio Board of Regents is the coordinating body for higher education in the state of Ohio. Created in 1963 by the Ohio General Assembly, the 11-member public board has a direct, non-governing relationship with all Ohio's colleges and universities. Please visit www.regents.state.oh.us for more information.

About OSC
OSC is Ohio's high performance computing, networking, and research center. Established in 1987 by the Ohio Board of Regents, OSC provides scientific computing, networking, research, and educational resources to a variety of local, state, national and international computing and networking groups. For more information about OSC, visit www.osc.edu .

Media Contact
Kathryn Kelley, OSC Director of Outreach 614/292-6067 or kkelley@osc.edu
Jamie Abel, OSC Assistant Director of Communications, 614/644-1988 or jabel@regents.state.oh.us