CHAPEL HILL, NC, October 25, 2006–The Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) today announced plans to expand its reach to Western and Eastern North Carolina by opening sites in Asheville, affiliated with the University of North Carolina Asheville, and in Greenville, affiliated with East Carolina University.
RENCI at UNC Asheville and RENCI at East Carolina University (ECU) initially will focus on disaster research, including planning for and responding to natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods, and developing more comprehensive disaster plans by studying storm data. In partnership with the RENCI anchor site, each site will take a unique approach to disaster research, focusing both on issues of regional importance and on contributing expertise and resources to a statewide disaster research effort that could become a prototype for other states and regions.
“This is our next step in creating a statewide virtual organization that can address issues of state and national importance,” said RENCI Director Dan Reed. “These sites will bring a new core of university and community expertise to bear on important problems that can’t be solved by one campus, one discipline or one region of the state.”
- RENCI at UNC Asheville will work closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climate Data Center (NCDC) to develop high-resolution, near real-time weather models for disaster planning and response in mountainous areas that are often plagued by floods and mudslides. Equally important, the site will bring resources and expertise that enhance the economic development efforts of the HUB project, a community collaboration formed to leverage educational and technological assets.
- RENCI at ECU will work to build and maintain an integrated North Carolina coastal informatics system that includes public health records, records of geological, biological and chemical processes, information about human activity, attitudes, social networks and population densities, and inventories of disaster response resources. The site will be closely aligned with ECU’s Center for Coastal Systems Informatics and Modeling (C-SIM).
“UNC Asheville’s partnership with RENCI provides the high-end computing resources and infrastructure that will enable us to address important environmental problems threatening our region and other regions of the state,” said UNC Asheville Chancellor Anne Ponder. “Of equal benefit is the opportunity this collaboration presents to further develop a new economic sector organized around environmental research and planning, one in which our faculty and students are already at work.”
“Preserving the Carolina coastline is key to the environmental and economic health of the region,” said ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard. “ECU’s partnership with RENCI will help our researchers synthesize valuable data and continue to make a difference in the lives of people in eastern North Carolina.”
The sites—RENCI at UNC Asheville and RENCI at East Carolina University (ECU)— are due to be fully operational by early 2007. Each will be equipped with high-resolution displays for scientific modeling and visualization, advanced audio/video collaboration capabilities, and network connections to other RENCI sites and national research networks. Each site also will operate a mobile outreach vehicle designed to showcase new technologies and bring educational, economic development and training programs to surrounding communities. RENCI will fund the sites for three years, at which time the programs and goals will be evaluated.
RENCI is expected to announce additional sites outside the Triangle in late 2007. A RENCI location on North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh will open before the end of the calendar year and locations on the campuses of Duke and UNC Chapel Hill will open in 2007. RENCI’s anchor site is at 100 Europa Drive, Chapel Hill.
RENCI brings together computer and discipline scientists, artists, humanists, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, state leaders and educators for collaborations designed to reshape science, the economy, the state of North Carolina and the world. RENCI leverages its expertise and resources in leading edge computing, networking and data technologies to ignite innovation and find solutions to previously intractable problems. Founded in 2004 as a major collaborative venture of Duke University, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the state of North Carolina, RENCI is a statewide virtual organization. For more, see www.renci.org.