The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is seeking $75 million in federal relief funds to advance two proposals: a $50 million expansion of its Holland Computing Center and $25 million for a related facility to advance public-private agricultural partnerships.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln was among dozens of other organizations requesting allocations from the Nebraska Legislature this past week, all seeking to advance major priorities through use of COVID-19 relief funds allocated through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which came into effect in March of this year.
The Act is anticipated to allocate around a billion dollars to Nebraska in support of repairing the economic and societal damage caused by the pandemic. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, for its part, is pitching its proposals as cornerstones in the advancement of Nebraskan industry – particularly its agricultural sector.
“Our proposals will directly support the future of agriculture in Nebraska by supporting cutting-edge research to advance precision agriculture and crops that are more resilient,” said Ronnie Green, chancellor of the University, in an interview with the University’s Troy Fedderson. “We will also provide additional high-speed computing resources to Nebraska businesses and our researchers, focusing specifically in growing opportunities in the use of artificial intelligence and critical cybersecurity needs.”
The two projects would be sited on the University’s Nebraska Innovation Campus. The $50 million investment in HPC capacity would integrate with the University-hosted National Strategic Research Institute, which is a “non-profit research institute sponsored by U.S. Strategic Command that works to ensure the United States’ safety and preparedness against increasingly sophisticated threats.” The University says the supercomputing expansion could also benefit areas like machine learning, data science, manufacturing research and medical research.
The $25 million agricultural facility, meanwhile – which would also make use of matching funds – would be connected to the USDA National Center for Resilient and Regenerative Precision Agriculture and host researchers and startups.
“The companion facility will allow us to take our cutting-edge research and make it commercially viable more quickly, getting it into the hands of Nebraska’s crop and livestock producers,” Green said. “And, when coupled with the Holland Computing Center expansion, we will have vastly enhanced capabilities in precision agriculture, allowing producers to harness data and make real-time decisions.”
The last time the University of Nebraska-Lincoln hit the Top500 list was in 2013, when its 150-Linpack teraflops “Crane” system briefly soared into 475th place. Eight years later, Crane is still in service, alongside the “Rhino” HPC cluster (itself using nodes from two prior systems), the “Red” cluster (equipped with over 10PB of storage) and the “Anvil” cloud platform.
Header image: the Nebraska Innovation Campus. Image courtesy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.