The University Record, January 28, 2002

U-M key to Internet2 development

By Theresa Maddix

(Graphic courtesy of the Visible Human Project)
“The University of Michigan and the state had a strong role in the development of the Internet and did not take credit for it. We don’t want that to happen again,” says Susan Lackey, president of the Washtenaw Development Council.

To cement that visible role, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Washtenaw Development Council, with support from Governor John Engler, are moving forward with plans to create a facility in Ann Arbor for next generation Internet (I2) technology research and development. The center would house the University Center for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID), Merit Network and the Ann Arbor IT Zone.

UCAID is a non-profit consortium, led by members from more than 190 universities in partnership with corporations and affiliates members, working to provide leadership and direction for advanced networking development.

“The Michigan Technology Center will be a visible facility that anchors Michigan’s image as a center for the next generation of Internet technology development and commercialization,” says Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Internet2 is developing and deploying advanced network applications and technologies for research and higher education.

As with the development of the first Internet, U-M is a key partner, ‘loaning’ employees and facilities to the I2 project.

In return for U-M’s assistance with research and facilities, the campus is reaping many of the Internet2’s cutting-edge technological rewards. Benefits include access to supercomputing sites; viewing capabilities for high quality, full motion, large screen, interactive video; remote control of scientific instruments from telescopes to electron microscopes; and access to the nation’s six supercomputing centers. What’s more, every networked computer user at the University has access to the Internet2 network.

One of the University’s loaned employees, Theodore Hanss, director of applications development for Internet2, says that at the University, “many people use it [I2] on a regular basis without thinking about it.”

Highlights for major initiatives include:

  • The Visible Human Project, http://vhp.med.umich.edu/, led by project director Brian D. Athey, assistant professor of cellular and molecular biology

  • The Global Business Partnership, led by Prof. Noel Tichy as director

  • A new digital signal processing technology emerging to advance musicology and music theory, led by Mary Simoni, associate professor of music and director of the Center for Performing Arts and Technology

    U-M’s leading role in Internet development dates to 1985, when the first precursor to the Internet, the Department of Defense’s ARPAnet, was transferred to Merit Network, headquartered at the U-M, with partners MCI WorldCom and IBM. The new network, NSFnet, worked to provide architecture control of its growing Internet child as it grew explosively.

    In April 1995, the NSFnet backbone service quietly turned itself over to the commercial network as we know it today. The main goal was a quiet transition, unnoticeable by users.

    Today, that smooth transition has provided a springboard for a quiet phase-in of Internet2 technologies, again in close collaboration with U-M.