HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – Northern Kentucky University broke ground recently on a new, $55 million, ultra high-tech Center for Informatics that will house the university’s new College of Informatics, which combines all information-related disciplines under one college. The Center, largely funded with state dollars, will be built to provide the ultimate intersection of education and economic development, and is a key strategy for the region’s 2015 goal to create 50,000 new jobs.
The Center, expected to drive information-related business growth within the region, will house some of the most advanced technology in the Midwest region. The facility will feature a Computer Assisted Virtual Environment (CAVE) that will be available for businesses to use for product development. While several large corporations boast their own CAVEs for research and development, the CAVE located at NKU’s Center for Informatics will be one of only a few CAVEs available for public use in the world. With the help of federal funding secured by Senator Mitch McConnell (R_KY), the Center will also boast a Digitorum that will be capable of running complex simulations in homeland security, computer security and financial security. It will also support other industries. The Digitorium can double as a Network Operations Center (NOC) that will allow broad use by a variety of private and government sectors.
The facility is being designed by Goody Clancy, which has designed stunning university buildings throughout the United States, including on the campuses of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan, Harvard University and the University of Chicago. “I am often asked, ‘Just what exactly is informatics, anyway?’” NKU Dean of Informatics Dr. Douglas Perry told a group that included Kentucky Governor Steven Beshear and leaders of two of the world’s most respected tech companies – Dell and SAP Public Services. “Informatics is the digital intersection of the arts, sciences and professions, where digital tools are used to extend these fields and bring them together. Informatics achieves this by developing and applying the theories and technologies of computation, information, and communication to new situations and environments.”
Frank Muehleman, vice president and general manager, Dell North America Public Business Group, said the Center’s impact will be felt for generations. “The Center for Informatics at NKU exemplifies how business and academia can partner to maximize the impact of technology on student learning and achievement,” Muehleman said. “The Center’s progressive model, coupled with a fully integrated curriculum and mobile technologies, will help prepare NKU students to compete and excel in a global workforce.”
“The digital technology incorporated into this stunning building – most notably the Digitorium – will bring informatics to our students through demonstration, development, collaboration, simulation, representation and performance,” Dr. Perry said. “The Center for Informatics will be an entirely new environment in which students can learn, grow and play in the best sense of the word.
“But there is more,” Dr. Perry continued. “By intentional design, the Center for Informatics will transcend the College of Informatics. Its facilities will be available to the larger university to enhance and extend the expression of the tremendous pool of talent on campus. But it won’t stop there. The Center for Informatics will be a natural attractor to the community at large, providing a new venue for engagement. Companies can partner with our Infrastructure Management Institute to make use of our unique facilities to develop products and foster new business. Residents can come to be enlightened, enriched and entertained. Professionals can convene to enhance their skills and expand their network.”
Steve Hunt, CEO and partner of CIO Partner, Inc., in Fairfax, Va., said the new NKU Center will be a key tool in the development of the next generation workforce in the technology sector. “If you are a junior or senior in high school and are interested in an informatics-related field, then the College of Informatics at Northern Kentucky University is the place for you,” Hunt said. “NKU’s current curriculum in media informatics, healthcare informatics, Web 2.0, iPhone development, SAP/ERP and business intelligence and analytics demonstrate that the College intends to stay current and, in fact, stay on the cutting edge of business requirements for workforce talent. With this curricular experience at NKU and the unique and applied nature of the program, [students] will maximize their ability to enter and be successful in a competitive workforce for the 21st century.”
In addition to being home to some of the most advanced digital technology available, the Center for Informatics will be the first “green” building on NKU’s campus, having been designed for LEED Silver certification.
NKU College of Informatics: http://informatics.nku.edu