The Air Force Research Laboratory announced today that the University of Hawai'i (UH) has been awarded the contract to operate and manage the Maui Supercomputing Center, located at the Maui Research and Technology Park in Kihei. The contract, which will begin October 1, 2001, may be extended for up to 10 years and has a potential value of $181 million. This is the largest single contract award in the history of the University of Hawai'i.
The University of Hawai'i team for the Maui Supercomputing Center consists of UH, Boeing Rocketdyne Technical Services and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) along with the Ohio Supercomputer Center, New Mexico Tech and Textron.
"The University of Hawai'i appreciates the Air Force's vote of confidence and we look forward to this opportunity to fulfill the vision of Senator Daniel K. Inouye," said Kenneth P. Mortimer, president of the University of Hawai'i. "Through this project we will be able to simultaneously meet critical national defense requirements and advance the university's research enterprise in emerging technology areas, while continuing to advance the State's overall high tech capacity. We are especially grateful for the encouragement of Joseph Blanco and the Governor's Office as we pursued this project, and to Maui Mayor Kimo Apana for his unwavering support and financial assistance to our proposal effort."
"We have long encouraged the University of Hawai'i to expand its high technology and biotechnology research programs," said Governor Ben Cayetano. "This contract is a proud achievement toward that end. It caps off months of hard work by the UH, the State, our Congressional delegation, and Maui County. Most importantly, it continues to enhance the university's reputation as a strong research institution and to attract interest in its sophisticated research."
The University of Hawai'i competed for the contract against the University of New Mexico (UNM), the incumbent operator of the facility that was formerly known as the Maui High Performance Computing Center.
Harold S. Masumoto, executive director of the Research Corporation of the University of Hawai'i, who was instrumental in the UH initiative to win the contract commented, "The University of Hawai'i has the utmost respect for the work done by the University of New Mexico to establish the Center over the past eight years. We look forward to continuing our collaborative research activities with UNM in the years to come."
David Lassner, UH director of information technology and principal investigator for the UH effort said, "Our approach was to try to understand the Air Force requirements, assemble the best team possible, and prepare a plan and proposal to meet their needs."
Boeing, a major defense contractor, operates the Maui Space Surveillance System (MSSS), the other major Air Force research & development facility on Maui. SAIC, one of the country's leading information technology contractors, has the most extensive experience in business development for the Maui Supercomputing Center.
The center is home to some of the country's major high performance computing resources. The new IBM "huinalu" cluster was unveiled in February as the most powerful Linux Supercluster in the world. Overall, the center is ranked in the top 20 supercomputing sites in the world and is the second most powerful supercomputer center in the Department of Defense.
"I am most pleased that the University of Hawai'i has been awarded this supercomputer contract by the Air Force," said Senator Daniel K. Inouye. "It has long been my hope that the University play a greater role in concert with the Department of Defense in Hawai'i, in utilizing the supercomputer for the benefit of its faculty and students. The presence on Maui of a new world-class telescope at MSSS and a world-class supercomputing center offers tremendous opportunities to advance the frontiers of scientific inquiry and positions Hawaii at the forefront of high tech research and development."
Today's announcement is the culmination of over a year of formal procurement activity, which began last May with an initial request by the Air Force for statements of capabilities from qualified contractors. The competitive process included multiple written submittals, formal oral presentations, oral and written question & answer sessions, and meetings on Maui and in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the headquarters of the Air Force Research Laboratory's Directed Energy Branch.
The University of Hawai'i expects to begin a phase-in process on July 1 to ensure that it is ready to assume operational responsibility on October 1. According to Lassner, "We look forward to working with the current staff on Maui and hope that most of them will choose to remain with us to help take the center to the next level of achievement as required by the Air Force under the new contract."
The university plans to integrate the center even more closely into the Maui and statewide high tech community. Plans include building on the many educational outreach programs implemented by the University of New Mexico and placing a stronger emphasis on workforce development across a broad range of technologies and at all levels -- from high school internships and community college training -- through graduate education and post-doctoral appointments. The UH Team also plans to develop a number of new programs that leverage the center's resources to advance scientific research and development within the state and to contribute to the self-sustainment of the Maui Supercomputing Center.