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iSchool Professor Lee McKnight receives two-year $600,000 NSF grant for wireless grid project

October 08, 2009

Margaret Spillett
(315) 443-1069

Lee McKnight, associate professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) and co-founder of Wireless Grids Corp., and a team of researchers at SU have been awarded—along with Virginia Tech—a National Science Foundation (NSF) Partnership for Innovation (PFI) two-year grant totaling $600,000 for the Wireless Grid Innovation Testbed (WiGiT).

The WiGiT will assist in refining transformative technologies to create markets, bridge the gap between wireless network middleware and grid application layers, and accelerate commercialization and adoption of new products and services. WiGiT serves industry needs for intra-system, or crossover, work bridging the world of grid or cloud computing and wireless Internet by contributing to open standards and application programming interfaces for wireless grids.

This initiative will initially include faculty and students from SU, Virginia Tech, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University and Instituto Superior Tecnico in Lisbon, Portugal, with plans to include other world leading academic institutions. McKnight and Virginia Tech Professor Tamal Bose will serve as principal investigators of the WiGiT, which will also include leading researchers in wireless, grid and entrepreneurship fields.

Participants and partners at the inception of the project, in addition to the academic institutions, include private sector organizations and corporate partners such as Clear Channel Radio; Qualcomm, Syracuse Research Corp.; SenSyr LLC; Center for Advanced Engineering & Research, Inc.; MOD-ECO; and Wireless Grids Corp. (WGC). Governmental and intergovernmental organizations involved in the Testbed project include Knowledge Society Agency Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Portugal; and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Paris.

“The expansive collaboration driving this project is truly breathtaking,” says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “It transcends disciplines, spans institutions and crosses sectors—as well as oceans—to bring the best minds together to create game-changing technologies whose impact will be felt worldwide. Catalyzing creativity and innovation in this way is exactly what our vision, Scholarship in Action, is all about and we’re thrilled that Lee McKnight is spearheading this project.”

The main goal of the project is to evaluate specifications for possible industry standards in order to scale and integrate the transformative innovation of wireless grids developed in a prior Partnership for Innovation project, with specifications and protocols developed in Virginia Tech’s NSF I/UCRC Wireless Internet Center for Advanced Technology, meshed with technologies and ideas from students, faculty and companies worldwide.

“This NSF funding bears testimony to the exciting, forward-looking research that will be conducted by a stellar team that will be investigating the issues regarding standards that must be addressed to enable the bridging between wireless grids and cloud computing,” says iSchool Dean Elizabeth D. Liddy. “Our faculty and students thrive on conducting research on leading-edge technologies and software. We see great potential in the contributions WiGiT can make to society.”

WiGiT will determine the extent to which wireless grid computing may augment communication networks and standards such as the Internet, Bluetooth, WiFi, WiMax and mobile WiMax for data transmission communication, collaboration, research and commercial purposes. WiGiT will test the Varsity Media Group proprietary “edgeware” software that resides beyond the cloud, across edge networks and devices, both wired and wireless.

“The award received by Syracuse University and Virginia Tech and its corporate and other partners from NSF’s Partnership for Innovation program is a significant milestone in the path of wireless grids from basic research to innovative standards, and has tremendous commercial opportunities for a wide variety of firms,” McKnight says. “I am pleased that Wireless Grids Corp., born as a result of a prior Partnership for Innovation award, is now a key partner contributing its expertise and software to WiGiT.”

In September, Varsity Media Acquisition Corp. completed its merger with Wireless Grid Corp., which was spun out of SU to commercialize research concepts and intellectual property produced in its School of Information Studies Wireless Grid Lab. The WGC software-based solution is a next generation application that transforms computer networking and wireless infrastructures (all devices) ability to interact seamlessly with zero to little configuration. WGC has been recognized as one of the “9 Wireless Companies to Watch” by Network World in August 2008.

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