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Majors & Degrees

New network will create new research opportunities

June 13, 2019

A new high-speed, research-dedicated network is coming to Dakota State.

In May, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded a $1.46 million grant to Dakota State University to help establish a high-speed research network.

This investment, located in a federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act designated Opportunity Zone, will be matched 1:1 with local funds, which will come from private donations and Future Fund monies that are part of the university’s funding for the Madison Cyber Labs, or MadLabs. 

SDBoR recently upgraded the portion of the state’s Research and Economic Development (REED) Network along the I-29 corridor to multiply its capacity tenfold (from 10Gbps to 100Gbps). This will benefit the state’s universities “but only gets it as far as the campus door,” stated Dr. Peter Hoesing, director of Sponsored Programs with DSU Research and Economic Development Affairs. 

The grant funding will provide for equipment to “set up fully customizable research environments” in the new MadLabs building, the Heartland Technology Center (a campus business incubator) and the Beacom Institute of Technology, Hoesing said. DSU Research and Economic Development Affairs staff anticipates most of the actual work will be done within the next year.

This on-campus network will provide an avenue for research traffic that is separate from the day-to-day traffic of the university, he stated, with the benefits of security, speed, and dedicated access for research.

“This is important to Dakota State because it facilitates a capacity we did not have before, making us competitive for a whole range of ambitious funding mechanisms we couldn’t pursue previously,” Hoesing said.

These new opportunities for research and partnerships are important for faculty, but funding sources are also interested in student research, Hoesing said. Employers in the private sector care what students can do for their company or enterprises, Hoesing said. With the new physical research and development space, connectivity, and data management space, undergraduate and graduate students will have a level of access to technical experiences that will be distinctive, and make graduates more competitive.

For the EDA, “it’s about job creation,” Hoesing said. “The local impact of something like this can appear to be indirect,” he stated, “but research and development efforts will create partnerships which will produce jobs, and we also expect to see new companies which will create their own new jobs. The EDA is counting on that.”

The grant was supported by several partners, including local businesses such as East River Electric Power Cooperative, Heartland Consumers Power District, Sanford Research, and organizations including First District Association of Local Governments.

South Dakota’s governor and three U.S. Congressmen touted the grant as a huge benefit. Governor Kristi Noem stated that the grant will “…create opportunities and help generate cutting-edge research that will shape the future of cybersecurity and business in South Dakota.”

To learn more about the Opportunity Zone program, see the Treasury Department resources page here.