The new 52,000-square-foot building establishes a unique partnership between one of the world's leading research laboratories and the state's flagship university, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. It will also improve access to the world's most powerful supercomputers for America's scientists, universities and businesses.
"The joint institute launches a new era for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and UT," Matt Kisber, Tennessee Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, said. "It's also an essential step as we position ourselves as a technological leader."
The joint institute is an advanced computing collaborative formed in 1991 to promote joint education and research between UT and ORNL.
The new building was funded by the state and represents a growing partnership among ORNL, UT and the State of Tennessee.
Friday's dedication follows the Department of Energy's decision last week to build the world's largest supercomputer at ORNL. The plan calls for a machine that will achieve 250 trillion calculations per second by 2007.
"It is critical that the high-performance computing industry, universities and national laboratories combine their vast resources and make computing the foundation for solving science's big challenges," ORNL Director Jeff Wadsworth said. "With the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences, ORNL is leading the way in that effort."
Wadsworth said the laboratory's university partners are in a great position to both benefit from and contribute to the computational facility.
In addition to UT, ORNL's "core" university partners are Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Thom Dunning, UT-ORNL distinguished scientist and director of the joint institute, said modern studies in biology, astrophysics, materials science, climatology and other fields rely on computational modeling and simulation.
Computational modeling and simulation also impact many industrial areas, including automobile and airplane design, pharmaceuticals, pollution prevention and weather forecasting.
Dunning said the joint institute will work closely with ORNL researchers and others to develop the software needed to take full advantages of the new computer and will use the new capabilities to solve some of the nation's most pressing scientific problems.
"The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences also will participate in the education of the next generation of scientists and engineers, ensuring that they have the fundamental knowledge of computational modeling and simulation they will need in the 21st century," Dunning said. "This will greatly increase the capacity and potential for breakthrough research and will spur industrial progress."
Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy.