The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and OneNet a $414,595 Campus Cyberinfrastructure (CC*) grant to connect two more campuses to the OneOklahoma Friction Free Network (OFFN).

Administered by NSF’s Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure, the CC* grant program invests in campus-level cyberinfrastructure improvements for science applications and research projects.

The two-year grant award will connect Cameron University’s Fires Innovation Science and Technology Accelerator (CU-FISTA) campus and Oklahoma City University (OCU) to the OFFN network.

“The State Regents are pleased to add more Oklahoma higher education campuses to the OFFN network,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “These connections will expand research and education initiatives for faculty and classrooms at these campuses. The grant also has a significant educational impact for a diverse student population, including first-generation college students.”

OFFN is a 10 and 100 Gbps research network that provides higher education institutions with a dedicated route to internet and research networks that is much faster than traditional internet highways. This alternate pathway allows researchers to bypass slower traditional networks and transmit data at higher speeds. Previous NSF grant awards connected 17 Oklahoma research and regional universities to OFFN. This new award specifically targeted smaller institutions to expand their research and education initiatives.

“Cameron University is thrilled to partner with OneNet to join the OneOklahoma Friction Free Network to improve our cyberinfrastructure,” said CU President John McArthur. “This opportunity will expand educational access for our students and faculty while increasing support for area defense industry partners.”

“We are excited to join OFFN and for the potential it offers to our university for research and collaboration with other universities in the region,” said Gerry Hunt, OCU’s chief information officer. “The infrastructure from this grant provides exciting opportunities with many of our programs on campus. We are developing virtual reality projects in our Game Design and Animation program and elaborate data analytics projects in our business school, all of which require the transmission and sharing of enormous amounts of data. This network provides us the resources to pursue these projects and others in the future.”

The award will be managed by OneNet, the comprehensive digital communications initiative of the state system of higher education. Vonley Royal, OneNet executive director and State Regents’ chief information officer, will serve as principal investigator. Kelly McClure of CU will lead campus technology, and Jeff Price of OCU will lead research and education application adoption. Brian Burkhart and Sky Pettett of OneNet will manage network technology implementation and training.

The project will make advanced cyberinfrastructure tools and services available to the two campuses and support a wide range of scientific disciplines, including engineering, economics, machine learning, game design and animation. The grant award also will fund optical fiber builds to both campuses, providing CU-FISTA with a 100 Gbps connection and OCU with a 10 Gbps connection to OneNet and the OFFN network.

“With this new funding from NSF, OneNet is bringing cyberinfrastructure resources to two more Oklahoma institutions to support scientific discovery and innovation,” said Royal. “The high-speed connections, supercomputing resources and data transfer capabilities of the OFFN network will be a game-changer for researchers and students at these two campuses.”