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The new North Carolina Shared Research & Education collaborative infrastructure (NCShare) has received a pair of grants from the National Science Foundation. The awards total $1,382,425.

NCShare, which was unveiled with the announcement, is aimed at boosting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for minority-serving and small and mid-size institutions of higher education in North Carolina.

NCShare will offer a parallel research network to provide networking, scientific and statistical computing services. It is a cooperative effort of Davidson College, Duke University, North Carolina Central University and MCNC, operator of the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN).

The first NSF award, for $984,868, will establish a parallel science network infrastructure interconnecting campus researchers to external sites with the “speed and style of connectivity” typically only available at large research universities.

The networking infrastructure means that participating institutions will not have to build their own science network infrastructure. They will have access to a shared, regionally-based network operating on MCNC’s existing state-wide research and education network.

The second NSF award, for $397,557, complements the first award. It focuses on creating a shared computing environment supporting a common set of software and services, with priority use by Davidson, NCCU, and other North Carolina minority-serving and smaller institutions.

“The NCShare partnership is an important step towards addressing historical IT infrastructure inequities at minority-serving institutions such as North Carolina Central University and preparing a diverse STEM/high computing workforce of the future,” Deepak Kumar, Ph.D., who also serves as interim associate provost and dean of Research and Sponsored Programs at NCCU, said in a press release. “The proposed infrastructure will foster collaborative and multidisciplinary research in areas such as big data and high-performance computing in genomics, drug discovery, clinical care and public health.”

In 2018, MCNC announced 22 Community Anchor Institutions with direct connections via fiber network facilities extending from Greensboro to Hamlet.

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