Symposium Celebrates Hutchins, Community Innovation

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Ron Hutchins

Symposium Celebrates Hutchins, Community Innovation

Alyson Powell
June 22, 2015
A symposium last week provided an inside look at the planned high performance computing center in Tech Square and celebrated the center’s visionary, Georgia Tech associate vice provost for research and technology and chief technology officer Dr. Ron Hutchins.

The Board of Regents recently approved proceeding with the center lease agreement. This follows the recent selection to move forward with Portman Holdings as project developer.

Portman Holdings CEO Ambrish Baisiwala said his company is “thrilled” to be working on the project with Georgia Tech.

The development includes a data center and two towers, which will feature retail and office space. It’s estimated that once completed, the high performance computing center will add 50 percent more people to Tech Square. Infrastructure is only one part of the equation, though. Georgia Tech and developers also envision creating an environment for supporting innovation.

“Creating a sense of neighborhood is important,” said symposium panelist Joe Bankhoff, chairman of both Georgia Tech’s Sam Nunn School of International Affairs and the Midtown Board of Directors. “You will not find innovation until you find coffee shops.”

The proposed 750,000-gross-square-foot center will be located between Spring Street and West Peachtree Street behind Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business. The Institute will serve as an anchor tenant, using the space for research programs in computing and advanced big data analytics. The remaining space will be available for corporate entities and partners. The center is scheduled to open in 2018.

The man who pioneered the vision for the high performance computing center, Dr. Ron Hutchins, was also celebrated during the symposium. After 34 years of service to Georgia Tech, Hutchins is leaving at the end of June to take on a leadership role at the University of Virginia.

“What you’ve taught us, what you’ve put in place will propel us forward,” said Steve Cross, Georgia Tech Executive Vice President for Research.

The evening ended with a “Roast n’ Toast” reception where guests shared stories about working with Hutchins.

The symposium also featured a look back at the history of Georgia Tech’s community innovation ecosystem, including what it means for the campus to be a living laboratory.

IPaT Executive Director Beth Mynatt’s opening remarks focused on Georgia Tech’s cumulative 30+ years of experience in creating successful “living labs” ranging from tracking buses to future home technologies to cross-Atlantic school broadband connections.  Mynatt remarked about the excitement for the Institute's newest living laboratory.

“We’re experimenting with the future of high performance computing in an urban context. The HPC building will propel our investments in community-based innovation through a multitude of local and industry partnerships."

Panelists discussed the GT Journey initiative, which relies on campus as well as community partnerships.

“It’s not just researchers and students who benefit,” said Matt Sanders, GT-RNOC associate director. “The campus as a living lab is really valuable to industry partners.”

Another panel focused on how new collaborative partnership models for research, industry, and community engagement spur innovation.

“It’s no longer about coming in and doing just one project,” said Kevin Wozniak of the Georgia Tech Research Corporation.

Panelists said Georgia Tech strives to engage partners in as many ways as possible, including: talent, research, economic development, professional education, and vending.

Georgia Tech's office of the Executive Vice President for Research is looking for research ideas in data science and engineering in the HPC building. The office will award six grants of up to $150,000 to groups within Georgia Tech. Faculty can apply here before the June 30th deadline.

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