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Ed Cloutis

e-dition - January 12, 2007

UWinnipeg to Benefit
from Major Boost
for Research in Western Canada

Researchers from universities across Western Canada, including The University of Winnipeg, will benefit from a groundbreaking $88 million federal investment in national high performance computing (HPC) resources addressing some of the most complex and socially relevant research problems in the world today.

UWinnipeg is a partner in WestGrid, one of Canada’s seven major HPC consortia that together are creating a pan-Canadian network of HPC facilities. A National Platforms Fund (NPF), announced in support of this unified HPC strategy, has been created from $78 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and $10 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). Matching funds from provincial and industry sources will bring total NPF funding to nearly $180 million.

Historic Announcement
"This announcement is historic for Canadian research,” said Jonathan Schaeffer, a WestGrid co-principal investigator who led WestGrid’s participation in the NPF proposal. “When combined with provincial and industry matching funds, WestGrid will acquire more than $50 million of computing infrastructure to support research in areas such as climate modeling and prediction, deciphering the human genome and solving compelling problems in science and engineering."

This investment marks the first time CFI has identified a specific research infrastructure of strategic priority for the country and brought together all stakeholders — universities, provincial and federal funding agencies — to collaborate on the development of a purposefully shared pan-Canadian resource. UWinnipeg is one of more than 60 partners across Canada.

Opens Doors for UWinnipeg Researchers and Students
“This investment opens the door for UWinnipeg researchers to have better access to powerful computing resources, allowing them to compete on a more level playing field with the rest of the world,” said Randy Kobes, Chair of UWinnipeg’s physics department and the University’s WestGrid representative.

UWinnipeg will also receive a new high-powered state-of-the-art computer, visualization software, ongoing technical support and funds toward modification of facilities at the University to house the new system. Equipped with web cameras, the new system will enable faculty members and students to participate in video conferencing in real time, facilitate interfacing between HPC facilities and encourage collaboration between universities.

University of Winnipeg President Lloyd Axworthy applauded the sharing of resources among Western Canada’s post-secondary institutions. “This approach particularly benefits smaller universities such as The University of Winnipeg by equipping our researchers with the latest technological innovations to facilitate their research capabilities and also ensure UWinnipeg faculty and students have equal access to the computer technology as those at the larger universities,” he said. “This investment will also complement UWinnipeg’s new Science Complex and Richardson College for the Environment when it opens in 2009.”

In addition, the $88 million is expected to be matched by provincial and industry sources to bring the total NPF funding to nearly $180 million.

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