Supercomputer Center ‘Topped Off’

University representatives and government officials, including Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick ’78, gathered yesterday morning with the Holyoke community to celebrate the placing of the final steel beam on the structure of Massachusetts’s latest state-of-the-art research computing initiative.

The “topping-off” ceremony marked the completion of the steel structure of the $168 million Massachusetts Green High-Performance Computing Center, a unique partnership between five of the state’s major research universities—Harvard, MIT, Boston University, Northeastern, and the University of Massachusetts—as well as the state government, and two firms in the technology industry.

“We are delighted with the progress the topping-off ceremony represents for this terrific collaboration,” said Associate Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications Kevin Casey.

The 90,000 square-foot-facility directly responds to the needs of the universities for greater computing power, according to Casey.

The high-speed “supercomputers” at the Center will be able to parse through a trillion bytes of data on a daily basis, allowing researchers to perform advanced analyses relevant to many fields, including environmental modeling, health, and education.

Researchers will make use of the Center’s computing power remotely through fast-fiber connections and virtual networks.

The Center will promote a “green” mission through its use of energy-efficient technologies including hydroelectrically generated power. It will also facilitate research into clean energy and advanced computing technologies, including cloud, virtualization, and information integration, according to the Center’s website.

The facility will eventually house the entirety of Harvard’s computing hardware.

The final 18 foot, 800 pound beam was signed by officials and adorned with an American flag, Massachusetts Commonwealth flag, and an evergreen tree before being placed on the structure by an Iron Workers Union local.

The research facility will create 13 permanent Holyoke jobs and approximately 130 research positions at the universities.

At the ceremony, Governor Patrick praised the center’s ability to spark collaboration amongst the research institutions involved and throughout the state.

“We turn to each other rather than turning on each other,” Patrick said.

The construction site itself will function as a public classroom, inviting students from Holyoke schools to develop their building skills while participating in the construction process.

“We have to be about building our future, inventing our own destiny,” Patrick said.

Construction of the Center, which began on August 25, is expected to be completed in 2012.

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