The United State’s 44th President, Barack Obama, made a surprising and exciting stop at Boise State University on Wednesday as he kicked off his post-State of the Union cross-country tour. While a number of factors played into the President’s decision to visit Boise again, one piece of the trip revolved around the work happening at Boise State University. Along with touring the New Product and Innovation Lab, the President popped into the lab next door which houses the Kestrel High Performance Cluster, a resource that can crunch major data with a fast 64 TB parallel file storage system for large data sets, 2 TB of memory, 512 Intel Xeon 2.6 GHz computing cores, and 64 high end graphics processing units (GPUs).
The President was visibly impressed, telling Dr. Mark Rudin, VP of Research, “you guys are doing great things here.” To that, Dr. Rudin replied, “I tend to agree with you on that!”
The day following the president’s tour, local media were invited to participate in the same tour and Dr. Tim Andersen, Department Chair in Computer Science, was on hand to discuss Kestrel. Dr. Andersen, a co-investigator on the grant that was awarded to build this cluster (National Science Foundation Award No. OCI-1229709), was filmed and quoted by local news stations KTVB and KIVI about what the President’s visit means and why this computing power is so impressive.
On the focus it can bring to research, Dr. Andersen notes that super-computing allows one to access millions of compounds which is simply not possible in a wet lab, and have a pretty good assessment of what you ought to look at in the wet lab.
In regards to the Presidential visit, Dr. Andersen shared his excitement in seeing this [Kestrel and other research] come to fruition and to see people recognize it.” That sentiment was echo’d by many Boise State leaders, faculty, staff and students on Wednesday which will undoubtedly go down as one of the biggest spotlights to be put on Boise State to date.