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Gov. Richardson praises 20 NM supercomputer gateways as boon to economy, education

Community leaders, educators and political officials gathered May 26 at 20 interconnected supercomputer gateway sites around the state, including New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, to join Gov. Bill Richardson, the New Mexico Computing Applications Center and Intel in celebrating the economic development, clean energy and collaborative educational opportunities the gateways offer New Mexico and its local communities.

Shaun Cooper, New Mexico State University Las Cruces associate vice president and chief information officer, listens to a question from the audience in NMSU's supercomputer gateway laboratory during the "New Mexico Connect 20" event May 26. In the background is one of the lab's two 63-inch, high-definition, stereo TVs. Cooper said for local businesses, governments and individuals, the gateways' fully interactive teleconferencing capabilities, which can now interconnect 20 sites around the state and are available for public use, will be especially beneficial. (NMSU photo by Christina Pheley)

The live teleconference event was beamed to 19 statewide gateways from the host site at Intel's new Energy Research Center in Rio Rancho. The gateway sites are computer and teleconferencing labs with large, high-definition, 3-D TVs interconnected through the state's supercomputer, Encanto, the world's fastest public-access supercomputer, which is housed at Intel.

Richardson kicked off the teleconference with an address taped Monday praising the addition of 12 new gateway sites to the eight that went online in January. He emphasized the gateway system's potential for bringing high-paying jobs and collaborative educational opportunities to rural and urban communities around the state.

"Our efforts in high-tech economic development are critical to providing a diverse and stable economy for the state," Richardson said. "They are also central to creating thousands of well-paying jobs. The fact that I am able to connect to 20 sites around New Mexico today demonstrates our commitment to taking a statewide approach to high-tech economic growth.

"The supercomputer has bolstered New Mexico's place in a high-tech world, and like today's event, has connected people from all over the state?from school children to community leaders," Richardson said.

Other speakers focused on important areas of emphasis for the supercomputer and gateways. Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Fred Mondragón discussed the opportunities for developing the state's high-tech economy and a technologically advanced workforce?in urban and rural areas alike?to fill new high-tech jobs.

"By connecting our universities and community colleges, we are enabling our students to get a head start in the emerging skills necessary to compete in a global marketplace," Mondragón said. "By bringing together these supercomputer gateways, which are linked together already, we are literally melting away the miles that separate us, metaphorically and physically. From Carlsbad to Farmington, we are connected across the state."

Guy Allee, manager of Intel's Energy Research Center in Rio Rancho, said that Intel located its new center in New Mexico specifically because of state government policies?including ongoing support for Encanto and the New Mexico Computing Applications Center?and the state's colleges and universities, now interconnected through the gateways.

"New Mexico is really the perfect storm in energy research in terms of the New Mexico Green Grid Initiative and expanding New Mexico's clean energy," Allee said.

Lorie Liebrock, associate professor and chairman, department of computer science, New Mexico Tech, stressed the important role the gateways can play in collaborative education and distance delivery across the entire state. Making college credits transferrable among the different higher education institutions is another crucial goal for distance education, she said.

Lenny Martinez, chief operating officer, New Mexico Computing Applications Center, addressed the need to extend broadband access to all areas of the state, including sparsely populated, remote areas. A recent survey found redundancies in some areas and gaps in other places, and Martinez said that a systemic approach, including efforts from the public and private sectors, was needed to address the problem.

Shaun Cooper, NMSU associate vice president and chief information officer, said the supercomputer is used mostly for research, digital media and other high-tech applications like 3-D animations for film and 3-D modeling for design.

Cooper believes that for local businesses, governments and individuals, the gateways' fully interactive teleconferencing capabilities, which can now interconnect 20 sites around the state, will be especially useful.

The supercomputer gateway laboratory in Las Cruces, located in NMSU's Jacobs Hall, offers two 63-inch, 3-D high-definition stereo TV monitors, electronic 3-D glasses, webcams, wireless microphones and access to desks and PCs. Lab use, which is available to the public, is free for some purposes, but more extensive use may require a fee, Cooper said.

Other public-access gateway sites are at the following institutions: University of New Mexico-Albuquerque, NMSU- Alamogordo, NMSU Dona Ana, NMSU Carlsbad, NMSU Grants, New Mexico Tech-Socorro, Eastern New Mexico University-Portales, Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell, Eastern New Mexico University-Ruidoso, Western New Mexico University-Silver City, Western New Mexico University-Deming, New Mexico Highlands University-Las Vegas, Northern New Mexico College-Espanola, Luna Community College-Las Vegas, Santa Fe Community College-Santa Fe, San Juan Community College-Farmington, New Mexico Junior College-Hobbs, and the New Mexico Military Institute-Roswell.

For information about using the gateway laboratories at the above sites or gaining access to the supercomputer from them, contact the institutions directly.

Those interested in using the gateway laboratory at NMSU in Las Cruces should contact Shawna Arroyo at (575) 646-4401, shawna@nmsu.edu.