High Performance Computational Center Coming to Campus

New Construction And Renovations By 2015

by Clifford Michel

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Early in the month of April, State lawmakers have budgeted $10 million for the College of Staten Island’s plan for an Interdisciplinary High Performance Computational Center on the Willowbrook campus.

“It’s so important for us to expand because right now all my classes are crowded and we definitely could use a brand new building. Especially since it’s going to be for business, really puts me at ease because sometimes I wonder if coming to CSI is the best decision for me,” said freshman and Business Major Marie Devito. “The School of Business is brand new and I wasn’t sure if it would equip me for the skills I need to succeed.”

The high performance computers will be housed in a 175,000 square foot facility. The facility will contain space for scientific computing hardware, laboratories for visualization, computer labs, high-tech instructional laboratories, general-purpose classrooms and student work areas. The state-of-the-art research and learning facility will also serve as a university wide resource for computer-based modeling and simulation. CUNY also claims that the construction of the facility will create 1,460 construction jobs.

“Hearing about this really puts me at ease because we live in a data driven society and being able to make meaning of all that information is important. Having hands on experience with big data could be what pushes me over the hump for a job,” said Devito.

Though the total cost of the facility is priced around $50 million, CSI’s President Dr. William J. Fritz said that the $10 million will cover the design phase and the beginning of the bidding process.

The facility will be the first academic space to be built on campus since the institution moved to Willowbrook in 1993.

“We have far outgrown our initial campus design, nearly doubling our enrollment. The new building will support the entire campus by providing new classrooms, faculty offices, laboratories, and research areas, and will also allow us to reconfigure existing spaces,” wrote President Fritz to the college community.

CSI administrators worked with Iris Weinshall, Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning, Construction, and Management at CUNY, to secure the deal with lawmakers.

President Fritz, staff members, and Student Government President Andrea Curry, all went to Albany to advocate for funding for the Computational Center.

CSI held its annual Legislative Forum on January 31, where every local legislator was represented. The college demonstrated that construction of the Computing Center will lead to the success of several other initiatives. This includes renovation of building 2M to provide ten new classrooms by 2015 and a Big Data Analytics Center for the School of Business.

The construction of the computational center also holds Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Start-UP NY initiative at stake. The program is intended to attract new high-tech businesses to the CUNY campuses by establishing tax-free areas for the businesses to develop. CSI is one of the five CUNYs involved in the state wide program and has promised partnerships with internet-related companies and startups specializing in big data analytics.

Though the State’s budget was in surplus this year, CSI wasn’t the only CUNY to ask for capital funding. Baruch College, Bronx Community College, Brooklyn College, Guttman Community College, Hostos Community College, Lehman College and York College all appealed to the state as well.
The college community has also reached out to local City Council members and Staten Island Borough President, James S. Oddo, for funding to create a new Media Culture Center and other campus improvements.

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