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Technology Imperatives

"If we don't change direction soon, we'll end up where we're going."
Prof. Irwin Corey


Our fathers built infrastructure with bricks, mortar, concrete and steel.  They built roads, bridges, ports, railroads, airports, public utilities, waterworks, sports facilities and museums, and they invented ways of paying for them.  Their infrastructure involved huge capital commitments and employed thousands of people.  Such projects were a source of civic pride and symbolized the best that our society had to offer.

The new infrastructure of the 21st Century is less tangible but no less real.  Instead of super highways built of steel and concrete, we are building super highways built of fiber optic cable.  Instead of interconnecting cities and states, we are interconnecting the global community.  Instead of carrying goods from place to place, the new infrastructure carries services from place to place.  Distance in this information age has become technically irrelevant.  Now, instead of sports arenas, we are in need of world-class research institutions, massively parallel computing and storage facilities, redundant and affordable wet and dry laboratory spaces and virtual worlds in which to experiment and produce, and ubiquitous access to ultra-high speed wired and wireless communications networks.   And finally, in the spirit of those risk-taking entrepreneurs of the industrial revolution, we need a more open and tolerant culture that once again encourages entrepreneurship and risk-taking and tolerates failure in the pursuit of excellence.

Today, technology on all fronts is advancing faster than our ability to think of ways to capitalize on its use.  The widespread availability of sophisticated high speed computing and communications systems and services within our community will accelerate and transform the rate and means of adoption of other far-reaching technologies now embedded in our local economy but that remain trapped there by old fashioned ideas, lack of access, and the barriers of fear and ignorance.  These barriers must be removed to make room for economic development in the region based on 21st century opportunities.

Our new infrastructure will not be built with muscle and bone, but with minds and hearts.  This modern infrastructure can kindle in our community a "creative madness" that will enliven all aspects of our regional community, from urban centers to suburban and rural enclaves.  It will bring together every thread of possibility, now hanging loosely in this community, into the fabric of a new vibrant, high technology-based economy.  Our infrastructure will usher in a more optimistic spirit, a spirit of cooperation, a spirit of invention and entrepreneurship, one that encourages and enables those who may have been excluded from the old economy of the region but who nevertheless desire to participate in the high technology-based economy of the future.


The mission of the Milwaukee Institute is to assist SE Wisconsin to better compete in a global economy, an economy that is simultaneously driven and enabled by high-speed computational systems and the services they provide.  Consequently,  one of the Institute's core objectives is to support development of a regional "cyberinfrastructure" that can reliably host computational and service-oriented application systems supportive of industrial segments (clusters) where we have regional strengths.  One such service-oriented application system, a key enabler of our mission, provides "collaboration services" that allow people and processes to interact in a semi-structured manner for the purpose of creating value through alliances and "virtual organizations."

Our anticipated first users of these collaboration services are local university researchers conducting federal agency-funded and foundation-funded research projects.  The first objective is to assist them in working together, both within their own departments and colleges, across their universities, and among cooperating universities interconnected by the internet.  The principal goal is to increase the number and size (scope) of research proposals generated and, through the benefits of formal collaboration services, the probability of achieving success in winning competitive grant awards.

We see such collaboration systems and services as equally useful in enabling local businesses of all sizes in discovering and responding to opportunities and working together on product and service development and deployment activities that would otherwise be difficult without a regional cyberinfrastructure.  Educational activities, from K-12 through universities, from medical research to hospitals and their clinics, and throughout city, county and state government are all expected to realize corresponding benefits.

Consumers of the products and services of the region's traditional industry segments are increasingly global, requiring diversity in their designs, production and support processes.  This diversity requires increasing dependence on real-time and secure interactions among producers and consumers along "horizontal" supply chains and among stakeholders and subordinate organizations along "vertical" asset chains.  All of these elements must interact in a dynamic and constantly changing economic environment that is simultaneously global and regulated by local, regional, and national forces.  These forces include financial, labor and resource concerns as well as competitive market forces governing requirements, designs and support for products and services.

All of these moving parts place increasing demands on institutional agility and speed, factors that require improvements in "interconnectedness" and, once connected, the ability to effectively collaborate.  This is especially true for people: business executives, engineering and marketing personnel, government staffs, researchers in universities competing for funding, and educators attempting to translate this dynamic and changing global ecosystem into practical, informative and coherent curricula for our next generation.

"All of the books in the world contain no more information than is broadcast as video in a single large American city in a single year. Not all bits have equal value."
Carl Sagan


Institute Technology Imperatives
The Institute has identified four primary technology imperatives required to support the level of creativity and innovation needed to drive regional economic development: Computational Systems Science, Educational Outreach, Cyberinfrastructure, and Collaboration Services.  Relationships among these four key technology imperatives form the basis of our icon--a viable high performance cyberinfrastructure around which we offer service-oriented software that enables research in computational systems sciences, creativity through web-based collaboration services, and educational outreach through rich interactive media based on modeling, simulation and visualization services.

"Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes."

E.W. Dijkstra


Computational Systems Sciences
The principal research objectives of the Institute, beyond achieving and maintaining competence in essential aspects of cyberinfrastructure systems and collaboration services, include focusing on computationally demanding systems modeling and simulation sciences that directly support our Industry Clusters: Healthcare, Manufacturing, Financial Services, Transportation, Defense, and Media.

The Institute's focus on these clusters shows a distinct regional sensitivity.  The Great Lakes, long thought to be the center of the decline in US manufacturing, has been transformed in the past 20 years into a more diversified economy that is home to many established and emerging global competitors in both traditional and high technology industries.  This is particularly true in Wisconsin, which stands in the middle of the Illinois-Wisconsin-Minnesota (I-90/94) corridor, a thriving metroplex of scientific research and technological innovation.

Built on its historic agricultural and food processing industries, the region has emerged as a bio-fuels center and as an international center of excellence for the manufacture of heavy machinery and mobile equipment for mining, materials processing and construction, and for specialty heavy-duty vehicles.  It has also seen growth of other knowledge-intensive industries such as financial services, healthcare, logistics, defense and digital media.  Industry leading companies in the fields of money management, diagnostic equipment, electronic medical records, bio-pharmaceutical reagents and specialty chemicals, high performance computing and military avionics are now headquartered in the region.

Top executives from these companies recognize the need to invest in the region's technical infrastructure, which can invent and sustain the competitive technologies needed for their industries now and in the future.  The infrastructure they imagine includes engineering design centers, non-destructive and simulation-based testing centers and laboratories built on 21st century cyberinfrastructure capable of supporting inter-disciplinary and inter-organizational resource sharing and creative collaboration.

To that end, executives working with the Institute have identified key elements of the infrastructure described throughout this website needed to encourage the discovery and development of shared technology solutions to common business problems of their respective industries.

"...teams that work collaboratively can obtain greater resources,recognition and reward when facing competition for finite resources."


Educational Outreach
The Institute plans to use its interest in and support of new media and animation technology to create visually rich educational materials based on the modeling and simulation of systems of interest to participants in our Industry Clusters.  Through these dynamic simulations we hope to excite students in activities in these economic sectors and moreover, in the sciences and technologies driving developments in these markets, developments highlighted by simulations.

"Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities,because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled,can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation."
John F. Kennedy


Cyberinfrastructure consists of networks, computing systems ranging from visualization workstations to supercomputers, to data storage and retrieval systems, to content management systems, middleware binding disparate systems together to integrated information systems, suites of software engineering tools, modeling, simulation and visualization tools, physical-chemical-biological property sensors and control actuators, and libraries of application software components.

"Communication protocols, programming languages and operating systems have created platforms for innovation unlike anything in human history."
Vinton Cerf


Collaboration Services
The Institute will provide collaboration services through its advanced website, initially allowing researchers in public and private sector commercial, (.com), educational (.edu) and governmental (.gov) organizations to cooperate on joint R&D projects requiring expertise from a potentially wide range of disciplines.  Ultimately, the Institute will include its own staff to work with partners requiring high performance computing in support of their software development, project management, and system administration requirements.

The Institute's use of the term "collaboration" has two complementary meanings.  The first describes the tools and processes for "casual" or "loosely-coupled" interactions among people associated with Web 2.0 services such as blogs, wikis, calendaring, document repositories, email, and social networking sites.  The second describes tools for more "structured" or "tightly-coupled" interactions among people who require higher levels of security, planning and scheduling of shared resources, program management, financial accountability and audit and reporting services to support inter-disciplinary and inter-organizational programs and projects.

The Institute plans to support these two aspects of collaboration through its website-based services.  Version 0.5 of the site is intended to support informational content without the need for user accounts.  V1.0 of the site will provide Web 2.0 loose collaboration services with user accounts.  Version 2.0 will add the tight-coupling services required of secure program management.

"No one wants advice, only collaboration."
John Steinbeck