Blue Collar Computing

By David Bruggeman
June 19, 2006

The name refers to a program at the Ohio Supercomputer Center that seeks to connect industries that lack the time or resources with high-performance computing (HPC) software, technology and expertise. They seek to lower barriers to entry for firms and industries that can benefit from HPC.

This program has inspired Senator Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) to introduce legislation this past week to encourage similar efforts nationwide. The Blue Collar Computing and Business Assistance Act of 2006, co-sponsored with Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wisconsin), is aimed toward small businesses and manufacturers that could benefit from HPC by encouraging transfer of HPC knowledge, software and technology to these firms. Both Sens. DeWine and Kohl have worked toward maintaining and expanded manufacturing competitiveness programs like the Manufacturing Extension Program, and this legislation should be viewed as a high-tech version of those efforts.

The proposed legislation would establish, through the Department of Commerce, up to five Advanced Multidisciplinary Computing Software Centers at non-profits, consortia of non-profits, or partnerships between private and non-profit entities. Selection criteria for these centers would include (but not be limited to) the ability of the applicants to partner with academic institutions and small businesses, the ability to educate workers on the applicability of HPC to their fields, and the ability to access and utilize HPC software, networks and technology. Grants under the program would not exceed $5 million per fiscal year per center.

The legislation has just been introduced, and as noted in this week’s Hill Tech Happenings, Sen. DeWine held a briefing on it today. USACM will monitor the legislation as it proceeds.