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OCU connects to Oklahoma’s Research Network

Oklahoma City University is now connected to a statewide cyber network dedicated to improving teamwork and data sharing amongst researchers in various disciplines.

The OneOklahoma Friction Free Network (OFFN) is funded through a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant awarded to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and OneNet. OFFN is a high-speed research network that provides higher education institutions with a dedicated network route that is much faster than traditional internet highways. This alternate pathway allows researchers to bypass slower traditional networks and transmit data at higher speeds.

The connection makes advanced cyberinfrastructure tools and services available to OCU. Faculty and researchers will utilize these tools for research and education initiatives in areas such as economics, game design and cybersecurity. Projects initially supported by the new connection will be led by OCU’s information technology team. 

“We are excited our university is now connected to OFFN and that our faculty and researchers can utilize the extraordinary resources offered through this network,” said Gerry Hunt, chief information officer for OCU.  “This will offer many new opportunities to further enhance the great research already taking place at OCU and innovate in new ways not possible prior to this grant award.” 

In September 2021, NSF awarded the state regents and OneNet a $414,595 Campus Cyberinfrastructure grant to connect two higher education campuses to OFFN. Administered by NSF’s Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure, the grant program invests in campus-level cyberinfrastructure improvements for science applications and research projects. The grant award connects OCU and the Cameron University FISTA campus to the network. 

Previous NSF grant awards connected 17 research and regional universities to OFFN. This new award specifically targeted smaller institutions to expand their research and education initiatives. Additional grant funding awarded since 2021 will soon bring the number of connected campuses to 30.

“The State Regents are pleased to connect OCU to the OFFN network,” said Chancellor Allison D. Garrett. “The new connectivity enables research collaborations across Oklahoma’s campuses and advances STEM education for Oklahoma’s students.” 

The OFFN network and the new connections are managed by OneNet, a comprehensive digital communications entity of the state system of higher education and Oklahoma’s research and education network. Brian Burkhart, OneNet chief technology officer, is providing oversight for all aspects of grant implementation.

“OneNet is OCU’s partner in research and education. OneNet is leveraging the NSF awards to advance scientific discovery, innovation and educational initiatives for our state’s smaller institutions,” said Burkhart. “Expanding access to supercomputing and cyberinfrastructure resources for OCU faculty and students creates new opportunities that weren’t possible prior to the grant award.”

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