Office of Research Computing applies video conferencing to needs of researchers

RIT Access Grid allows faculty to communicate “face-to-face” with sponsors

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David Bond, director of sponsored research (left), and John Schull, associate professor of information technology, discuss research projects with Jennifer Schopf, a program officer with the National Science Foundation (on screen). The live video conference focused on the development of collaborations between RIT and the foundation’s Office of Cyber Infrastructure. The conference was broadcast over the Access Grid, a research and computing infrastructure developed by RIT’s Office of Research Computing.

RIT’s Office of Research Computing is applying new video conferencing technology to enable face-to-face meetings between faculty and students and research sponsors, without the need for travel or the transportation of equipment.

The project currently utilizes RIT’s research computing and network infrastructure, the Access Grid, and the research networks NYSERNET and Internet2. It allows for real time video conferencing and communication between researchers at RIT and program officers at the National Science Foundation, who have access to compatible technologies located at the National Center for Super Computing Applications’ ACCESS Center in Washington, D.C.

Ultimately, the technology could allow for video conferencing with numerous sponsors, virtual tours of RIT labs and campuses and technology demonstrations based on current research projects.

“The Access Grid allows for high-performance, real-time video technology that can allow sponsors and researchers to conduct full meetings with presentations, demonstrations and question and answer sessions without having to bring people to campus,” says Gurcharan Khanna, director of research computing.

“Our ultimate goal is to utilize this technology to expand opportunities for communication and collaboration between RIT and a host of funding organizations, while also increasing communication and research opportunities between RIT and its satellite campuses at the American University in Kosovo, RIT Dubai and the American College of Management and Technology in Croatia.”

Earlier this month, Khanna hosted a live virtual meeting utilizing the Access Grid that featured a presentation by Jennifer Schopf, a program officer for the National Science Foundation’s Office of Cyberinfrastructure. Schopf discussed current funding opportunities being offered through the office and possible areas of collaboration with RIT. The meeting was attended by two representatives of Rochester General Health System, numerous faculty members and members of the RIT administration, including Donald Boyd, vice president for research, and David Bond, director of sponsored research.

Research Computing also hosted a demonstration of the RIT Global Collaboration Grid during the 2009 Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival, which included a direct video conference with RIT staff in Croatia and Kosovo as well as live connections to Rochester General Health System and Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

“This technology can allow principal investigators to conduct small meetings with NSF program officers and collaborators, meetings that would otherwise require costly and often time consuming travel,” adds Bond. “It will also allow for greater partnership opportunities between researchers and students at our Henrietta campus with their counterparts in Kosovo, Dubai and Croatia.”

For more information about the project and additional programs, visit The Office of Research Computing.