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Research Computing Center Supports Sponsored Research and More

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
May 13, 2009

There was a time when UNH researchers had to “time-share” a computer to get their research done. That was before Research Computing Center moved from downtown to Morse Hall.

Launched in 1979 by Bill Lenharth, who retired in 2008, RCC’s initial focus was on engineering and science needs.

Today RCC dedicates approximately half its time to developing software in support of research activity. The other 50 percent is divided between non-research entities, such as the Housing Office and the Alumni Association, and government grants and private industry.

“We have the expertise and innovation to solve very complicated problems but we also do a lot of innovative things,” says Patrick Messer, acting director of RCC.

Since its inception, the computer center has grown from a starting group of three to 12 full-time employees whom Messer describes as highly motivated and talented. Three students round out the staff.

Throughout the years, RCC employees have developed expertise in particular areas, making the center a natural choice for certain projects. An example is the Housing Office’s new feature that in April allowed students to make their room selections online.

Wildcat World is another example. The integrated Web site and database allows UNH alums to do such things as create their own virtual yearbooks, and search for other alums. In 1998, RCC developed the first online directory for the Alumni Association.

Carbon Solutions New England’s New Hampshire Decarbonizer is another of RCC’s Web projects. It’s an online tool used to compare and combine the various reductions in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from individual potential solutions. 

And then there is What’s on TV? Take a stroll by the room 336 in Morse Hall and you’ll see a 50-inch Plasma screen running Web pages and movies related to happenings at the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, as well as other high profile work such as Project 54.

The Events Management System allows users to register for USNH events and pay for those registrations online using a credit card or E-check.

In simple terms, people tell the folks at RCC what they need and RCC takes it from there.

“Basically, they want us to make the computer do what they want it to do,” Messer says. “It’s ‘we need to design this piece of equipment to talk to this piece of equipment.’”

The process involves working hand-in-hand with clients to ensure they are getting exactly what they want, he says. And the nature of the business is such that those needs change as they go along, and when they see the result of their request electronically.

“Once they see it they say ‘wow, now I realize I want to be able to do that, or this,’” Messer says. “Seeing it triggers a whole new thought process. And that’s how it should be.”

Additionally, RCC runs a 2,000-square-foot data center housing hundreds of computers and networking equipment.

The RCC Web applications team develops and maintains numerous Web sites for research groups and departments across campus.

For more information on RCC go to https://rcc.sr.unh.edu/about/.


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