College of Engineering

New research network to launch July 26 at Tennessee Tech

People working on installing new server

A new research network called Science DMZ is set to launch at Tennessee Tech.

The official opening and an orientation session for users will take place July 26 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. at Stonecipher Lecture Hall room 126. Researchers and administrators are invited to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony and learn about accessing this specialized network.

“The Science DMZ is an advanced network architecture designed to optimize data transfer and collaboration among researchers, institutions and external partners,” Computer Science Assistant Professor Susmit Shannigrahi said. “It offers an efficient, secure and high-bandwidth pathway for transferring large datasets.”

The network was funded through a two-year, $263,000 grant from the National Science Foundation and implemented by Tech’s Information Technology Services Assistant Director for Network Operations David Hales and HPC Systems Administrator Mike Renfro. Shannigrahi serves as the principal investigator alongside co-PI Mike Rogers, associate professor of computer science.

The Science DMZ addresses the network performance limitations that Tech’s researchers have faced in the past. It operates alongside the university’s existing network and “brings numerous benefits to faculty, student researchers and other campus research and teaching centers,” Shannigrahi said.

The goal is to migrate most researcher and experimental teaching use cases to the new network, as the Science DMZ is specifically designed for high-performance applications as compared to the university’s general-purpose network.

“It provides dedicated systems for data transfers, as well as performance measurement and network testing tools,” Shannigrahi said. “It also provides a more flexible infrastructure for research while maintaining robust security measures.”

The introduction of the Science DMZ at Tennessee Tech is the culmination of efforts that began in 2020, when Shannigrahi and Rogers conducted a survey among campus researchers. The survey aimed to identify the ways in which network restrictions hindered their work, including activities like software development, experimentation and device usage.

“With the launch of the Science DMZ, these limitations will be alleviated, fostering a more conducive research environment,” Shannigrahi said.

The Science DMZ also holds promise for future applications. For example, it is expected to play a vital role in the Ashraf Islam Building, a forthcoming 100,000-square-foot facility for the College of Engineering.

“As the first ‘smart building’ on campus, it will leverage the Science DMZ’s capabilities to support innovative research, experimentation and data analysis within its premises,” Shannigrahi said.

The network’s impact extends beyond specific use cases, Shannigrahi noted, as it has the potential to facilitate groundbreaking research across multiple disciplines, including physics, biology, chemistry and computer science. 

“As the Science DMZ gains momentum, it will foster collaborations not only within the university but also with external partners, enabling seamless data sharing and joint research endeavors,” Shannigrahi said. “This will strengthen Tennessee Tech’s position as a leading hub for cutting-edge research and innovation, attracting top talent and driving transformative discoveries.”

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