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Lehigh Awarded $385,000 NSF Cyberinfrastructure Grant

Lehigh University has been awarded $385,000 by the National Science Foundation for the construction of a Science DMZ to improve campus connectivity to the growing national research cyberinfrastructure. The grant will vastly improve the movement of high-volume and time-critical engineering and science data flows in support of structural and civil engineering research at the Imbt Lab on the Mountaintop campus.

The Imbt Lab is comprised of two nationally recognized research facilities: The Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems (ATLSS) Engineering Research Center, and the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES@Lehigh) Facility. These labs conduct data- and computationally-intensive research like the simulation of earthquake effects on large-scale structural systems. The increasing use of numeric and fast hybrid simulations in these areas require massive data transfers, which require high-capacity network availability. Enhancements planned for on-campus connectivity include an upgrade to 20Gb/s of bandwidth to the Imbt Lab paired with several network connections capable of running at 10GbE, along with up to 50 gigabit ethernet connections for labs and offices. According Bruce Taggart, Vice Provost of LTS and Principal Investigator on the grant, “graduate students and faculty at Imbt Lab depend upon the LTS central high-performance computing facilities for their simulation work, and this upgrade will provide much-needed bandwidth boosts (up to 100x) to enhance their productivity”.

A good way to understand a Science DMZ is to compare it to your daily commute. Faced with congestion on roadways, traffic planners employ "special handling" to encourage better use of our highways. High-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes allow carpools to reach their destinations more quickly. The same is true for the movement of high-volume and time-critical engineering and science data flows. The Energy Sciences Network of the U.S. Department of Energy is promoting Science DMZs, a reference architecture providing improved handling of large datasets traversing research networks like Internet2 and PennREN. For example, instead of attempting to filter out spam and viruses from terabytes of scientific data, as is the current method, a Science DMZ uses trusted network connections to provide special handling for these flows. Specific research requirements for the Imbt Lab upgrades include:

  • • Real-time video streaming from multiple HD cameras in lab facilities to remote collaborators,
  • • Improvements for lab facilities' access to the university data center facilities, including the corona Linux cluster and central research storage resources, and
  • • The ability to construct real-time hybrid experiments in which physical experiments are merged with computational simulations.

The Principal Investigator (PI) on the NSF grant is Bruce Taggart, Vice Provost of LTS. Co-PIs are Richard Sause, Director, Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems (ATLSS) Center and Professor of Structural Engineering; and Peter Bryan, IT Manager for ATLSS.