Indiana University and Purdue University Win 2003 EDUCAUSE Award - Department of Computer Science - Purdue University Skip to main content

Indiana University and Purdue University Win 2003 EDUCAUSE Award


Indiana University and Purdue University are one of two sets of winners of the 2003 EDUCAUSE Award for Excellence in Networking,for I-Light: Indiana's Optical Fiber Network. This prestigious award recognizes strategic, innovative networking programs or practices that improve the quality of campus network services through new or enhanced network architectures, infrastructure, integration, management, and/or operational practices. The award-winning Indiana initiative drew on a remarkable collaboration between university, city, and state entities to create a powerful system with a high level of shared functionality and potential for future use.

To meet the dramatically increased demand for network capacity to support teaching, learning, and research, Indiana University and Purdue University collaborated to create I-Light, a cross-state, university-owned fiber optic network linking Indiana University at Bloomington, IUPUI in Indianapolis, and Purdue University in West Lafayette, to each other, the Internet, and Internet2.

Funded in 1999 by an initial state appropriation of $5 million and completed in 2001, I-Light quadrupled the available Internet bandwidth without increasing operating costs. It supports significant high-end collaborative applications and faculty research programs in such areas as grid computing, human genomics, remote instrumentation, and visualization. For the Indiana Genomics Initiative, for example, I-Light provides high-speed access to huge DNA and protein databases for scientists analyzing genetic and protein sequences. By allowing the three campuses to pool their advanced computational and data storage resources, I-Light has enabled the development of a distributed supercomputing grid with an aggregate theoretical peak capacity of 1.5 TFLOPS (trillions of mathematical operations per second), providing an unparalleled platform for collaboration, research, and distance education. Local economic development has also benefited: the city of Bloomington has leveraged the initiative by adding two empty conduits connecting its new carrier hotel to the regional facilities in Indianapolis, and the greater Lafayette area is developing a comprehensive plan for fiber infrastructure in that region. The ongoing operating budget is about $175,000 per year, largely offset by savings of nearly the same amount for annual circuit lease charges through local carriers that previously provided drastically less connectivity. There are no additional, ongoing staff requirements.

In addition to research applications, I-Light also supports voice communications, e-mail, and videoconferencing between the campuses, and presents countless possibilities for collaborative research and an unparalleled platform for distance education. Future plans include implementation of eleven additional points of presence across Indiana,which will greatly expand access to high-performance networks. The university ownership of this high-power network provides at least two clear advantages: a fungible asset on which to build tomorrow's technology at marginal cost, and the freedom for creative thinking generated by being able to work in that dream environment, "What if networking were free?"

Also receiving a Networking Award this year is the State University of New York, Cortland. Winners of the Award for Excellence in Networking are chosen by the EDUCAUSE Network Award Committee, whose members are selected for breadth of professional experience. The award is sponsored by Cisco Systems, Inc., An EDUCAUSE Bronze Partner.

Indiana University and Purdue University-represented by Dave E. Jent,Associate Director, Network Infrastructures, Indiana University; Stephen Mayo, Associate VP for Telecommunications, Purdue University; and Brian D. Voss, Associate VP for Telecommunications, and COO Pervasive Technology Labs, Indiana University-will be honored with a commemorative plaque at a recognition breakfast and a general session of the EDUCAUSE annual conference in Anaheim, California, on Thursday, November 6. The conference draws more than 6,000 professionals involved in the management of information resources in higher education. Later that day, the IU and PU representatives will describe the I-Light infrastructure development at a track session.

With a membership of nearly 1,900 colleges, universities, and education organizations and more than 180 corporations, EDUCAUSE is one of the preeminent associations addressing the complex issues of incorporating information technologies and resources into the higher education mission. The association has offices in Washington, D.C., and Boulder, Colorado.

The Excellence in Networking Award is sponsored by Cisco Systems, Inc.,An EDUCAUSE Bronze Partner. For more information, see

Last Updated: Mar 30, 2017 1:54 PM

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