Gannon University’s Institute for Health and Cyber Knowledge recently received a $402,500 boost by way of the Lake Erie Center for Medical Research Inc.
The center, which promotes medical research and medical product development predominantly in Pennsylvania, was recently awarded a $402,500 grant in partnership with Gannon from the Orris C. & Beatrice Dewey Hirtzel Memorial Foundation to create a super-computing facility in Erie.
Gannon has agreed to host the facility at its newly formed I-HACK, and the University will be contributing nearly $2 million to cover construction costs and ongoing staffing of the super-computing center.
“This funding will make it possible to create the region’s only super-computing center capable of servicing academic, industry, and community needs,” said Steven Mauro, Ph.D., vice president for Academic Administration and lead investigator on the grant. “The interest and support from local organizations for this initiative has been overwhelming, and demonstrates the need for such a center. This is the beginning of the many services that I-HACK is anticipating providing as a beacon of Erie’s growing cybersecurity presence.”
The super-computing center will serve academic, healthcare and environmental researchers across the region with data storage, processing and analysis.
This is the first grant to be awarded for work to be done at I-HACK, which is designed to educate and train a premiere workforce; recruit businesses and facilitate industry-academic interaction; and create a data center that serves the region.
“Gannon is proud to be a driving force for innovation in downtown Erie. The University is moving quickly to create a community asset that will help Erie become a secure, smart city while training a workforce for design, integration, and protection of the intelligent systems of tomorrow,” said Keith Taylor, Ph.D., president of Gannon University.
Gannon’s I-HACK initiative was announced in November, and facility design work began shortly thereafter to transform the former Verizon call center building. Those architectural plans continue to be refined.
Student recruiting efforts for two new majors – cybersecurity and cyber engineering -- were simultaneously launched and a talented group of pioneer students have been enrolled in the program’s first class this fall.
In addition, Dr. Susantha Herath was appointed as associate dean and director of the School of Engineering and Computing. He will lead the overall initiative, bringing his expertise in cybersecurity and engineering to the Erie community.
A Virtual Hackathon event was held in April, with scholarships offered to its top performers. Gannon’s next Virtual Hackathon will be held in November with a final on-campus competition to be held in February 2020.
The University continues to plan for a fall 2020 opening of the first phase of I-HACK at 131 W. Ninth St. Eventually, the entire six-story building will be used in a mix of classroom space, collaborative space where students and businesses can work together, commercial space, and a data center on the building’s sixth floor. The total development cost could reach $25 million.
Gannon administrators have been in ongoing talks with potential regional and national business partners, which could maximize I-HACK’s economic impact on the region while creating substantial real-world experiences for our students.
Gannon is expecting to make additional announcements soon.