The Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet) held its fall 2023 Member Meeting in conjunction with the national meetings of The Quilt and the National Science Foundation’s Campus Cyberinfrastructure (CC*) program, held in downtown Columbus on Sept. 26.
Pankaj Shah, OARnet executive director, provided updates on major initiatives. OARnet recently completed significant connectivity upgrades for all higher education members as well as several urban K-12 school districts and the Information Technology Centers (ITCs) that serve hundreds of school districts in Ohio, spanning all 88 counties. In addition, OARnet is working on aggregate purchasing of cybersecurity services to meet member needs.
Mark Fullmer, OARnet chief technology officer, highlighted a new internship program, created in partnership with The Ohio State University’s 5G and Broadband Connectivity Center, designed to help train more college students in the skills needed to join the fast-growing broadband networking and wireless technology field.
Denis Walsh, OARnet chief relationship officer, discussed how OARnet is supporting several major projects across the state. OARnet provided a new fiber connection to the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport, which is the site of the new National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence (NAAMCE) that will support research in aircraft innovation. In addition, BroadbandOhio recently awarded a grant to Ohio State’s Molly Caren Agricultural Center, which advances precision agriculture and autonomous farming technologies, that will allow OARnet to expand high-speed connectivity to the site.
The meeting, attended by more than 75 members, partners and staff, also featured a panel discussion, “The Role of the Research & Education Network.” In addition to Shah, the panelists were Tracy Doaks, president and CEO of MCNC (North Carolina), Steve Corbató, executive director of Link Oregon (Oregon), and Doug Alexander, director of community engagement and government relations for OSHEAN (Rhode Island).
The guest speakers provided an overview of their individual networks and discussed their current initiatives in the areas of research, cybersecurity and broadband networking.
Immediately following the meeting, OARnet hosted a social networking hour in celebration of its 35th anniversary. OARnet featured a video that spotlighted milestones in its years of service to Ohio, with statements from stakeholders across the state and nation.
The Ohio Department of Higher Education spotlighted the 35th anniversary event in its weekly “Higher Ed Highlights” video.
The next OARnet Member Meeting will occur in conjunction with the Ohio Higher Education Computing Council (OHECC) annual conference, to be held at the University of Akron, May 22-24, 2024.
By Andrea Gibson
Since 1987, OARnet has delivered technology-based solutions that reduce costs, increase productivity and improve customer service. As a division of the Ohio Department of Higher Education's Ohio Technology Consortium (OH-TECH), OARnet serves Ohio's education, health care, public broadcasting and government communities. Other members of the consortium include the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) and the Ohio Library and Information Network (OhioLINK).