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Interdisciplinary Team Receives GAANN Award

A team of faculty researchers, headed by UTC Chair Professor of Computer Science & Engineering Dr. Sanguthevar Rajasekaran, has secured a nearly $400,000 Department of Education Graduate Assistantship in Areas of National Need (GAANN) grant in the area of cloud computing. The interdisciplinary proposal was submitted by collaborators from the Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) and the Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) department along with the Booth Engineering Center for Advanced Technology (BECAT).

images/ecomm05172010/GAANN2.jpgThe GAANN programs seek to train U.S. students to conduct research and teaching in areas deemed strategically important to the nation’s competitiveness. The program’s focus is on engaging doctoral students in multidisciplinary, transformative experiences that will help them become leaders in research and education.

Dr. Rajasekaran, who directs BECAT, explained that the focus of this graduate research program is rooted in the increasingly data intensive nature of today’s scientific and technological challenges. He said that, with the enormous proliferation of data, unless researchers have access to advanced computational capabilities, they are limited to conventional computing devices, which are both time and compute-intensive. Powerful computing platforms are needed.

According to Dr. Rajasekaran, the high cost of supercomputers renders them out of range for many researchers. For this reason, he said, cloud computing is an attractive alternative. “Cloud computing refers to the provision of dynamically scalable and typically virtualized resources over the Internet. The user does not have to be concerned with details on where the resources are and how they can be accessed. Not only data intensive but also compute intensive problems, such as biological problems, can benefit from cloud computing.”

Collaborating with Dr. Rajasekaran are co-investigators Reda Ammar, Department Head of CSE, Jun-Hong Cui, Assistant Dean for Graduate Research & Diversity, Ian Greenshields, associate professor of CSE, and Peter Luh, SNET Professor of Communications and Information Technologies.

The GAANN fellows participating in this program will first explore the basics of cloud computing before they undertake focused research work. In particular, Dr. Rajasekaran said, they will be taught how to use cloud computing to solve various fundamental problems arising in varied application domains, and they will gain valuable hands-on experience in employing techniques needed to create an effective cloud computing environment. He noted that a number of specific aspects of cloud computing will be explored, including network issues, virtualization, security aspects, mapping a problem to a distributed platform, scheduling and routing of tasks, reliability, fault tolerance, performance issues, visualization and distributed storage.

GAANN fellowships are reserved for graduate students who are U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. residents and who have excellent academic records as well as a demonstrated financial need.

For details of the GAANN in cloud computing, contact Dr. Rajasekaran at rajasek@engr.uconn.edu or (860) 486-2428.